Sober living homes and communities are different from most residential treatment facilities our outpatient drug recovery clinics. The first line of recovery is usually the inpatient or outpatient facility that helps an addict get back on their feet, make it through the detox and withdrawal phase, and come to terms with the basics of living a sober life before the program ends. But sober living communities are facilities that specialize in a different form of treatment – specifically, sober living.
Sober living on its own can be a form of treatment if planned out right. Sober living homes in Los Angeles usually consist of a property close to the beach or close to nature, with staff, various amenities, and a completely drug-free environment. Yet what sets these communities apart from rehab facilities is that they offer a greater degree of flexibility, and don’t rely on programs. Instead, patients pay monthly to stay at a sober living home, while obeying the rules of the house, often including:
- A form of employment or enrolment
- Monthly rent
- Shared chores
- A strict drug-free policy
Some sober living communities have other rules, such as keeping gender-separate areas with a joint common area and requiring that all tenants/patients attend scheduled group meetings as a form of therapy, or that tenants seek one-on-one therapy for their recovery outside of the sober living environment.
However, all sober living homes are structured around giving recovering addicts a set of responsibilities and rules to follow, while giving them the freedom to spend their free time as they see fit. In this sense, sober living homes are meant to help people who have just gotten out of rehab slowly readjust to living a drug-free life. Sober living is an even better idea if you’ve just relapsed and need a place to get back to working on your recovery. While your schedule is quite flexible, and you can stay as long as you can afford to, there are quite a few things to do at a sober living community.
Most sober living homes require that you either find work or enroll at a school. It’s okay if you’re not immediately getting employed, as long as you’re actively looking and can pay your monthly dues.
Work is a great way to kickstart your sober life, if you find something engaging. Working or learning a new craft is a good way to be productive during the day, while giving you a better sense of structure for your day. A proper job will also help you improve your sleeping habits, and help you work on your ability to uphold and maintain responsibilities and be accountable to others. When you have a job as an employee, you’re going to have to show up to work on a set time, do your work, and meet your employer’s standards.
Everyone knows this – but the lesson behind it is that a job is a good way to work on your ability to gain another person’s trust. The simple honesty of a job is that you do what you say you’re going to do and build a reputation for yourself as someone who works hard and maintains a sense of integrity. This significantly helps with drug recovery, because a simple and honest job can keep you on the straight-and-narrow.
It’s important to try and find something engaging. You might not get your dream job right away, but find something that interests you nonetheless.
It’s known that getting a job is, of course, easier said than done while recovering from addiction. Often this isn’t because an addict is less likely to look for work, but because employers are much less likely to hire former addicts. However, resources exist to help you seek work. If you have any positive referrals from your past, or long years of work experience, that will make your task much easier.
Get a Hobby
A job is one thing, but as we know, all work and no play is a bad idea. Sober living isn’t meant to be boring, and it isn’t meant to punish a person for addiction. Instead, sobriety is a chance at a better life, one filled with actual joy rather than an artificial euphoria that cycles back into dread after each high.
Finding ways to enjoy yourself is an important part of the equation. This is where a hobby comes into play, but this is meant to be more than just something you’ll do to arbitrarily pass the time after work. Hobbies – things we genuinely enjoy doing in our free time – are important for the human psyche. We need to engage in relaxing and stress-relieving behavior on a regular basis and finding ways to have fun while sober is critical especially during early recovery, when it can be very difficult to adjust to a sober lifestyle.
Take up a creative hobby, or a form of exercise, or even seek to compete. A great way to commit to sobriety is by finding some form of incentive to stay sober – competition is a great incentive, as you have stay clear-headed to practice, train, and win. Many make it out of their addiction by way of a sport, or by way of a personal challenge, such as completing a marathon. Lifetime commitments are important for recovery, because they give you more reasons to stop using forever.
Connect with Others
This may be the most important piece of the puzzle – real human connection. Being in a real and meaningful relationship with another human being is almost impossible when you or the other person is stuck struggling with a severe addiction. Relationships are built on trust, and addiction tears that down, often making it difficult to remain accountable and responsible. As an addiction progresses, it continues to push others away. Learning to make friends, working with your family through family therapy, and even start or continue a romantic relationship takes time, and emotional stability. Rehab, therapy, and sober living can help you better come to terms with yourself, and be happy around others.