Sober living for men has been around for several decades, dedicated to providing a safe and temptation-free environment for people struggling with addiction. To set themselves apart from many other addiction treatment facilities, sober living homes advertised a different model of drug-free living, one where the focus was on helping tenants learn how to live a sober life in the real world without the temptations that might normally be there. This approach proved to be effective and is part of what makes a good sober living.
Unlike many residential treatment programs which focus on detoxification, early rehabilitation, and therapy, sober living treatment focuses on preparation, self-discipline, and helping tenants get on their own two feet so they can lead sustainable lives out of treatment.
Sober living communities are either gender-specific or co-ed. While there are clear differences between the two types of communities, the general tenets of sober living remain the same.
The Tenets of Sober Living
Sober living revolves around helping tenants adjust to living normal lives without drugs. Typically, sober living homes work alongside residential clinics and other addiction treatment providers to help people transition from primary addiction treatment into sober living as a way to prepare them for normal life.
Too often, people seem to head in and out of rehab, patching up the symptoms of a problem that is not being adequately addressed. A slower approach focused on helping people build themselves up and create a sober life of their own rather than thrusting them into the responsibilities of sober living with no alternative to relapsing can tremendously alleviate that issue.
At its core, sober living involves creating an environment that is very much true to a normal real-life community. Tenants are required to seek work or continue their education, and regularly contribute to the community. Schedules and events are formed to provide a sense of structure and help foster self-discipline. You must learn to manage stress and being self ware of your emotions, as this is what makes a good sober living experience.
To ensure that tenants don’t become miserable, sober living facilities also focus on teaching stress management techniques. From therapy to exercise and the pursuit of private hobbies, there is plenty of ways to have fun and blow off steam without getting hurt or relapsing. Finding out what is most effective for you is an important part of sober living treatment, which is why many communities feature a wide variety of amenities, events, and associated facilities.
Typical sober living communities are female-only, male-only, or coed. Coed facilities have split private quarters, with gender-specific dorms, and a common area where both genders can mingle.
Addiction and Gender
Regardless of what kind of a sober living community you choose to stay at, it’s important to understand that there are statistical differences between men and women when it comes to addiction, but these differences do not necessarily dictate your experience, or are meant to perfectly represent your individual journey. Your gender is a part of your identity, but it does not define you.
On average, men are more likely to try drugs, while women get addicted much faster, and are more prone to cravings and subsequent relapse. The effects drugs have are greater on women due to physiological factors. Because women are in general more vulnerable, they also experience a faster rate of escalating drug use. There are also unique risks associated with addiction for women, including reproductive risks.
Societally, men are more prone to trying and experimenting with drugs than women, although that does not mean women are not as curious – simply that there is a greater stigma placed on drug use among women. That being said, this may be changing as addiction rates are rising across the board, and alcohol is becoming a fast-growing issue specifically for the female population.
In terms of treatment, however, men and women respond very similarly. Women have a greater societal barrier to breach to get treatment, because admitting addiction can be more harmful to a woman’s career and social status that a man’s.
A Good Sober Living for Men Isn’t About “Manning Up”
Perhaps the biggest issue men face when fighting addiction is that admitting weakness – and tackling pride – is difficult. Many men would rather deny their symptoms and hide their struggle to portray strength, than openly seek help, and appear weak or compromised. The appearance of vulnerability is something all men seek to avoid, and it becomes easy to encourage oneself and others to keep such matters completely private and even secret. Learning this while in treatment is what makes a good sober living for men.
Obviously, this does not work. It’s difficult but necessary to overcome pride in order to seek quality treatment. It may help to approach the idea of seeking treatment as a sign of security rather than weakness, a sign that you are willing to admit to your faults because you are confident that your actions prove your strength, and that a disease or a setback is not enough to undermine your character.
What Makes a Good Sober Living for Men?
Unlike residential treatment programs which usually follow a strict schedule and time limit, sober living homes are designed to keep tenants monthly, for as long as they want. Some people find themselves struggling to stay clean more than others, and it would be unfair to limit them to a certain number of days or weeks – instead, most sober living communities let tenants stay with them as long as they need to, until they feel ready to move on and return to their families or neighborhoods, and out into the rest of the world. Support and being there for patients is what makes a good sober living home.
Even if you plan to stay in a sober living home for several months, the goal of these communities is to eventually help people transition past them, into a similar but different environment. A sober living home encourages you to find and maintain a job, discipline yourself to perform daily chores and obligations, amass and meet social responsibilities, and create a new life for yourself separate from your addiction, defined solely by your passions, skills, and ambitions.
From there, it’s just one move away from your sober community into your own home, and that’s about it. Many sober living communities even encourage tenants who have achieved a certain level of self-sustenance to go out more often, and other sober living homes schedule regular team-building events and outings outside the community.
Even so, that does not mean the transition is necessarily easy. It can still take time to adjust to life outside of treatment, and outside of the community, especially if you find yourself surrounded by old friends engaging in old habits.
It’s important to understand that addiction is not about self-control – it’s a brain disease, a compulsion with triggers, and while time and treatment can help you get it under your control, it’s wise not to tempt yourself too much once you’re back outside. Avoid your triggers – which can mean avoiding excessive stress, drug and alcohol use, and old friends and neighborhoods.
Instead, make it a point to pursue new interests, make new friends, and create a new and sober-focused life for yourself. Remember, knowing you have a support system and wanting to change in itself is what makes a good sober living experience within a community that will help you.