Typically, sober living houses function as structured living environments for patients leaving a rehabilitation program who are not quite ready to begin living on their own again. These houses vary greatly in format and size, though most are affiliated in some way with a 12-step alcohol, drug or other addiction program. A typical stay at a sober living house might range from a few months to as long as a year. The length of stay may or may not be set and generally depends on several factors:
The rules of the particular house. Some houses specify time lengths; many do not.
The resident’s financial resources. Sober living, while not as expensive as rehab facilities in general, is not cheap and will likely not be covered by insurance. After a short initial period, most residents will be expected to work at a job.
Standards of living. A sober living house is not like a single-family house or apartment. It is more like a college dormitory, with important differences, primarily having to do with rules. A resident must be able to live with those differences.
Personality similarities or differences. Residents will be living with others, whom they may or may not know beforehand. It is important that any disputes can be handled fairly without lasting bad feelings.
A Day at a Sober Living House
Every sober living home is different, but in general, the following may be expected:
Generally, residents are expected to get out of bed at a reasonably early hour, perhaps 7 am. Residents are required to make their beds, and some time for morning meditation may be set aside before breakfast.
At some houses, residents will prepare their own meals; others employ a cooking staff. Residents will generally be expected to attend breakfast together.
Since most residents will usually work or attend classes, after breakfast they dress for the day and leave for their job or school. Houses will sometimes maintain a van for commuting residents.
After work, residents will return to the house and perform their assigned chores. These will usually involve daily tasks such as routine housework.
A house meeting may be called near the end of the day, where the house manager will discuss issues, both good and bad, and work to resolve any disagreements or disputes between residents or between residents and staff.
Often, following the evening meal, residents will attend together a nearby 12-step meeting. These meetings may occur as frequently as nightly and residents will be required to attend.
Upon returning to the house, residents will have free time until lights out, in which they may talk, watch television, read or write letters.
Houses will typically reward well-behaved residents with more liberties and additional free time.
The most important rule at any sober living house is to participate in one’s own recovery. This means that drugs and alcohol, even alcohol-based mouthwash, for example, are absolutely forbidden and their use or possession generally results in immediate eviction. Beyond that, here are some typical rules:
No romantic relationships among residents. Some houses are coed; those that are enforce this rule strictly.
Pay rent on time. Houses are not charities; they depend upon paying guests.
Perform required chores. House staffs may work with residents on this one for a while, but continued lack of cooperation generates ill feelings among other residents and is disruptive of recovery.
Is a Sober Living Home the Right Choice for You?
Sober living houses permit residents to ease back into ordinary life while remaining in a safe, recovery-supporting environment. If co-occurring disorders and/or substance abuse are a problem for someone you love and you believe that a long-term supervised living arrangement could help him or her practice the principles of sober living, contact us at 858-952-1077.