Long-term sobriety has little to do with willpower and more to do with having adequate support for each step of the journey. In early recovery, medical detox is an essential step in stabilizing the newly-recovering addict, and formal adult drug and alcohol rehab allows an individual to undergo counseling and therapy in a safe environment. What happens after someone leaves treatment and is left to fend for themselves? The prospect of re-entering daily life, in which familiar environments provide temptations and triggers for relapse, can be extremely frightening.
Sober Living is an excellent option to explore after formal drug treatment has ended. Whether it is a halfway house, three-quarter house, or therapeutic community/transitional living environment, sober living arrangements allow someone the freedom to go to work and take care of family obligations, yet they live with and are supported by those who are also in recovery. This peer support, along with supervision by experienced staff, can be one of the most important pieces to the puzzle of long-term recovery.
Options for Sober Living
The most commonly-known sober living option available is a halfway house. In simple terms, halfway houses are transitional living residences that are typically managed by staff are in recovery. Ideally, these houses have a live-in manager who enforces house rules and has the proper licensing and accreditation. Most halfway houses are equipped with breathalyzers as well as various drug screening tests. It is typical for halfway houses to employ a zero-tolerance policy regarding substance use.
Living in a halfway house is not seen as idle time. Those who live in halfway houses are typically required to attend twelve-step meetings, get a job, attend school, and are working toward independent living. Most halfway houses will accommodate residents from six months to two years of continuous sobriety or clean time.
The main difference between three-quarter houses and halfway houses are structural. Those who live in three-quarter houses will have more freedom in regard to:
- Structure—while three-quarter houses still have the foundation of bans substance use, overnight guests, and curfews, the rules are generally more lenient and place more responsibility on the individual.
- Personal Accountability—with the lessening of rules and regulations, those who live in three-quarter houses have to show more in the way of responsibility and being held accountable for their actions. This includes attendance of twelve-step meetings, volunteer work, and finding gainful employment.
- Support staff—while there may be the presence of support staff from the treatment facility who may be running the house, they may not be as hands-on regarding living in the house around the clock, supervising, or ensuring the rules of the house are being enforced.
In general, transitional housing programs may offer short-term housing options for those who are in early recovery from substance abuse, or who may be struggling with addiction. These types of housing may include shelters for those who may not have made a full commitment to recovery and include those who are attempting to stay sober. Transitional housing environments may offer very little in formal interventions, on-site, but offer the following:
- Relapse and crisis intervention
- Home and office visits
- Daily & life skills training
- Advocacy services
- Referrals for vocational training
- Financial and budgeting assistance