More Opiate Addicts Recover with Sober Living Housing

More Opiate Addicts Recover with Sober Living Housing | Transcend Recovery Community

There have been a few recent studies that confirm the incredible value that sober living homes have in a person’s ability to stay sober.

One study done in 2012 found that this is particularly true for opiate addicts, those who are addicted to either heroin or prescription pain relievers. The study found that the inclusion of sober living homes and day treatment programs in a person’s treatment plan greatly improves the chances he or she will recover from opiates. Typically, those who have completed detoxification struggle when they enter the early stages of their sobriety. For those who use detox as their only means of treatment tend to have extremely high relapse rates. Relapse rates within a month of undergoing detox are between 65 percent and 80 percent, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Yet, the study found that opiate addicts who were provided with drug-free recovery housing and day treatment programs right after detox were up to 10 times more likely to remain drug-free.

To arrive at these conclusions, researchers examined the experiences of 243 opioid addicts, primarily those with heroin addictions, after their release from detox. Of those in the study who had no follow-up housing or treatment, only 32 people were able to stay drug-free compared to 90 men and women who were able to stay drug-free with housing, and 121 men and women who remained drug-free who received both housing and day treatment. It makes sense that those with supportive living environments after detoxification would have more of a chance to stay sober. Environment, support networks, and mental health professionals around you can greatly improve the probabilities of staying sober.

Another study done 2011 found that sober living homes are an effective means for achieving sobriety when certain factors are in place. The study found that for 300 individuals a sober living home was an effective option for those in need of alcohol-free and drug-free housing. When individuals were involved in 12-step programs, had a strong network of support and were living in a drug-free environment, they tended to reach sobriety with few or no relapses. The study reaffirmed the importance of social and environmental factors in recovery.

In the lives of participants of the study, improvements were seen in the areas of alcohol and drug use, arrests, psychiatric symptoms and employment. It was clear from the study that there are certain factors that predict better recovery outcomes, such as high involvement in 12-step meetings, little alcohol and drug use among peers, and a low severity level for any presenting mental illnesses. The study also found that for those who were referred to sober living homes from the criminal justice system, they experienced similar outcomes when these same factors were present. However, they had a harder time finding and keeping work and had higher re-arrest rates. Of course, sober living homes are effective for almost any kind of addiction.

These research studies reveal the advantages of staying in a sober living home, extending treatment beyond simply detox. Here are some of the clear benefits of residing in a home for sober living:

  • Sober living homes are affordable, alcohol and drug-free environments that provide a positive place for peer group recovery.
  • Sober living homes facilitate individual recovery by providing an environment that allows their participants to become self-supporting.
  • Quality assurance in homes is maintained through a membership in a sober living coalition or network. Sober living homes must abide by a particular code of ethics. For instance, the Los Angeles County Sober Living Coalition has established regulations on how sober living homes run their businesses in Los Angeles.
  • Sober living homes are typically single-family homes in quiet, residential neighborhoods.
  • Sober living homes typically have regulations that ensure the safety and sobriety of its guests, of which the single most important rule is zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol.

Certainly, addiction is a challenging cycle to break. However, once treatment is done, the benefits of continuing to live in a supportive environment could be the one factor that makes or breaks long-term sobriety.


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Sober Living: Types of Medication Assisted Treatment for Opiate Addiction

Sober Living: Types of Medication Assisted Treatment for Opiate Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

Most people who are addicted to opiates cannot simply walk away from that addiction. The psychological and physical dependence is so strong that it requires a transitional drug to slowly facilitate sober living.

In fact, less than 25% of people who quit the use of opiates (painkillers and/or heroin) can remain sober for a full year. For this reason, physicians and substance abuse treatment centers have used medication assisted treatment options such as methadone, naltrexone, and suboxone to treat opiate addiction. These federally approved treatment drugs help reduce the side effects of withdrawal and curb cravings which can lead to relapse. These medications are not just for “detox,” but for long-term use in order to sustain sober living.


Methadone has been the standard form of sober living treatment for opioid addiction for over 30 years. It is legally only available from federally-regulated clinics for regular use in order to slowly wean an individual off the opiate addiction. When taken properly, medication-assisted treatment with methadone suppresses opioid withdrawal, blocks the effects of other problem opioids and reduces cravings.


Naltrexone is an opioid blocker that is also used as a way to medically treat opiate addiction. There are some advantages and disadvantages to using Naltrexone. It does not have any addictive properties and there’s no addiction to Naltrexone that develops. However, it has several disadvantages. It does not stop cravings making it difficult to continue to use Naltrexone as a regular treatment method. The use of this treatment drug cannot begin until an individual has stopped using painkillers/heroin for at least two weeks, which is difficult for most addicts to do. Lastly, if an individual relapses while using Naltrexone, there is a high risk of overdose and death.


Suboxone, the synthetic opiate buprenorphine is used to treat heroin addicts during their drug detox and even for some time after detox to facilitate sober living. The drug was approved in 2002 and has many advantages over methadone and Naltrexone. For instance, it suppresses withdrawal symptoms, curbs cravings, and blocks the effects of other opioids in an individual’s system for 24 hours. Sober living rates are much higher (up to 40-60%) with the use of Suboxone than with methadone or Naltrexone. Furthermore, treatment does not require daily participation in a highly regulated program, as with methadone treatment. Lastly, the potential for abusing Suboxone is substantially lower than the other two treatment medications discussed here.

Naloxone – An Emergency Drug

Naloxone is a treatment drug to be used in emergencies and not a long-term treatment drug. It is potentially lifesaving treatment to use on someone who is in the middle of a heroin overdose. When used on someone experiencing an overdose, this medicine temporarily blocks the opiate effects, allowing a person to breathe again long enough for help to arrive. In fact, the drug has been used for decades among paramedics as well as within the drug community, and it has saved thousands of lives.

More and more physicians and treatment centers are leaning towards the use of Suboxone for its many advantages. It is a long-lasting drug that needs to be taken once per day. It comes in 2 mg or 8 mg doses. Those who take it should not eat, drink or smoke for 30 minutes before and after taking their daily dose. Food, beverages, and nicotine can block the absorption of Suboxone and get in the way of treatment.

Research has shown that the best combination of treatment include medication, such as those discussed above, to manage the withdrawal symptoms, as well as therapy to address the behavioral and psychological issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place. Long lasting sober living includes creating a new lifestyle in which different daily choices are made, creating a strong support system, and examining the thoughts and behaviors that might be contributing to the cycle of addiction.


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Sober Living News: The DEA Reclassifies Hydrocodone

Sober Living News: The DEA Reclassifies Hydrocodone | Transcend Recovery Community

Hydrocodone is an opiate and one of those painkillers that millions of Americans are addicted to. Read the news, especially reports having to do with New England, and you’ll hear addiction stories of those caught in the nation’s heroin epidemic.

Hydrocodone is not heroin necessarily. However, because it’s often prescribed to relieve pain and frequently a drug that is abused, many who are addicted to painkillers will eventually make their way to using heroin. Both pain medication and heroin are both opiates and can produce the same high. However, heroin is becoming less and less expensive, allowing for an easy switch to heroin from painkillers. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users almost doubled. In 2007, for example, 337 thousand people were addicted to heroin in America and in 2012 that number jumped up to 669 thousand.

In fact, there are thousands of people needing sober living treatment in America who simply aren’t getting it. Even though many lives could be saved by residing at inpatient treatment centers and later at halfway houses, those who are addicted to opiates often don’t see a problem until it’s too late. In America, nearly 24 million people are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Yet only one in ten will get treatment.

To help curb the problem, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) ruled that it would reclassify all medical products containing the hydrocodone to Schedule II, which is a more restrictive class for more dangerous medication.  Their intention is to allow a smaller amount of hydrocodone into the market, restricting it so that less people can get their hands on it.

However, the truth is, that anyone addicted enough to need sober living treatment can search in the medicine cabinets of friends and family members and find some. Hydrocodone is frequently prescribed and often in high doses. It’s important to note, however, that when opioids are taken according to the way they have been prescribed, they’re considered to be safe. They will relieve pain and rarely cause an addiction. Yet, when these drugs are not taken according to direction, when they are abused, that’s when an individual can become vulnerable to addiction. And for this reason, the ruling is meant to keep hydrocodone medication away from those who aren’t meant to be using it.

Sadly, addictions to opioids are easy to develop, especially with regular use of tobacco, alcohol, and/or marijuana. It’s common for painkillers to become a door to the use of other drugs, which speaks to the general drug problem in America. With so many teens and adults needing treatment and sober living, there’s a clear problem in our country which invites a deep look at the cause of this widespread social problem.

Although the recent DEA’s ruling is meant to help solve this problem, there are 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain who might be affected by the more restricted classification of hydrocodone. For instance, the reclassification will make this drug harder to get for those who actually experience pain and who need a way to get relief. When the ruling goes into effect in October, pain medications with hydrocodone will only be prescribed for a 90 day period and patients will have to be seen by a doctor to get a new prescription. Furthermore, refills will not be able to be called into the pharmacy.

There’s no question that there is a drug concern in America, and the fact that the majority of those who need sober living treatment aren’t seeking it also points to a social issue. Perhaps the DEA ruling will help. Meanwhile, friends and family members will have to find their own solutions to keep their loved ones safe.


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