As you prepare to transition from residential or inpatient addiction treatment back to “the real world,” you may hear people talking about sober living. These communities can be an invaluable asset in early recovery, and the people who have stayed in them cite group support and accountability as major benefits they’ve experienced throughout the process. Read on to learn if a sober living community is right for you.
What is Sober Living?
Transitioning from inpatient treatment back to normal life can be one of the most challenging components of early recovery. After putting in so much work and thriving in treatment, some find the lack of structure present in their day-to-day lives difficult to process. Instead of going straight from treatment back to the home environment that encouraged substance misuse, there is a growing movement of people seeking a transitional step in between. Many individuals in recovery benefit from increased accountability and gender-specific sober living programs.
Sober living environments are best for those just leaving residential addiction treatment, or those who have experienced relapse before. They’re a housing model that prioritizes a balance of structure and independence – you are able to attend work or school, while also keeping your focus on your sobriety. You will be surrounded by others who are on the exact same page, building bonds of mutual understanding and accountability in early recovery.
While in residence at a sober living facility, you can fully immerse yourself in your recovery while also adjusting to life outside of the center. You can begin working or attending classes without fear of outside influences, responsibilities, or distractions that may create undue stress during this delicate time.
Types of Sober Living
Sober living communities may be high accountability or traditional in structure. Most include random drug and alcohol testing as a safety net for those in early recovery. All are created to provide structure, discipline, community, and support. The goal is to build strong habits that will foster long-term recovery for years to come.
These communities provide a high level of structure and discipline, which are integral components of effective, lasting recovery. Sober living typically involves immersion in local 12-Step programs, plugging you into a community of people in recovery who support your sobriety and understand what you’re going through. By building this sober support network, you set yourself up for success through any challenges ahead.
Effectiveness of Sober Living Communities
The early stages of recovery are critical. Research shows that the first 90 days after treatment are the most vulnerable time for newly sober people – this is when the risk for relapse is at its peak. Studies show that stressors associated with drug use (people, places, things, and moods) and access to substances are the principle catalysts for relapse. It’s critical to remove oneself from these influences while in early recovery.
Some people believe that completing an inpatient treatment program will flip a switch and create a lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol. However, we know that the real work of recovery begins after treatment has concluded. Outside factors like stress, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, getting bored, or isolating oneself can quickly lead someone back to familiar coping mechanisms – specifically substance use.
Studies also indicate that social support can be the deciding factor between relapse and sustained recovery. A large component of this is one’s living environment. Imagine how it would feel to be surrounded by a group of people who all intimately understand the hard work required in recovery, and who meet regularly to support one another. The difference between this and one’s standard home environment – where others may be unsupportive or using drugs and alcohol themselves – cannot be understated.
A study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment calls sober living houses “underutilized” and explains that, regardless of why someone entered the home, all participants experienced positive improvements in their substance use and addiction severity. They found that many people stayed longer than the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s recommended 90 days, and that they stopped their substance use and maintained this through the six-month checkup. Notably, these positive results continued on after participants left the sober living homes, meaning that they were able to maintain sobriety, gain employment, and experience improvements in psychiatric symptoms overall.
Is Sober Living Right For You?
At Segue Recovery, we believe in bridging the gap from treatment to independence. Our sober living experience also includes ongoing case management, recovery coaching, accountability, monitoring, and family involvement. Together, these elements combine to build lasting recovery. Our approach is holistic, encompassing everything from sober transportation to long-term aftercare for residents and families.