The Benefits of Transitional Sober Living
Making the transition from inpatient drug or alcohol rehabilitation to regular daily life can be a difficult process. First, inpatient treatment is often very structured and limits the individuals freedoms in order to facilitate recovery. Second, the environment of drug rehab is free from the negative influences and triggers of the outside world. Inside, a person is protected, so to speak. Conversely, a person on the outside is left to society’s devices and influences (people, places, and things) that can trigger relapse.
What to Expect in Sober Living
In a sober living home, you’ll probably find a less-structured environment in which residents have more freedoms and can come and go at leisure…depending on the level structure and programming. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends living in a sober house for at least 90 days, although residents are usually invited to stay as long as needed. Most sober living homes do have rules, however, that enforce curfews and attendance at group meeting. Residents are surrounded by others who share the desire to stay clean from drugs or alcohol. The positive social network that exists from living together in close quarters can result in lifelong friendships. These new relationships are especially beneficial to recovering addicts who need support and understanding. Individuals who have experienced drug and/or alcohol addiction may often feel alone and isolated as they journey to recovery. Having a group of comrades who can empathize and identify with the struggle to abstain is a key component in abstinence success.
Other Benefits of Sober Living
Sober living homes offer a recovering addict a slow and gradual transition back into daily life at a pace each individual can learn to grow comfortable with. The flexible length of stay and positive social relationships encourage a strong support system that a person can utilize for a full and sustained recovery.
Residents are typically required to attend 12-step meetings everyday and possibly an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and therapy as a part of developing a sober lifestyle. Studies have shown that aftercare programs like this can better one’s chances at avoiding relapse and maintaining sobriety. In fact, a study highlighted in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs identified sober living homes as a crucial part of recovery. Abstinence rates for the residents studied dropped dramatically over a six- and 12-month period. Abstinence rates went from 11 percent to 68 percent over a six- and 12-month follow-up period for residents in one facility, while the other boasted an increase from 20 percent to 40 percent after six months.
Want to know more? Here are some other facts about relapse and sober living aftercare as presented on HBO’s investigative series on addiction:
- About 50 percent of recovering alcohol and drug addicts will relapse at some point after initial treatment.
- It takes an estimated four to five years to reach a full sustained recovery.
- The first 30 to 90 days after initial treatment are the most critical for preventing relapse, as most relapses occur within this time frame.
- Of the individuals who leave drug or alcohol treatment, over half will be readmitted into treatment within a five-year period.
Yes, these are sobering statistics. But with the help of a sober living home, you don’t have to be another number on a fact sheet. Sober houses are a great way to transition and begin your life anew. You may feel excited to get back home and sleep in your own bed again if you are getting out of inpatient treatment, but this is no reason to jump the gun. Take time to consider the benefits of sober living and how a few months can help you gain so much more in years, happiness, and fulfillment. By learning how to re-acclimate yourself to daily life and cope with your stresses and triggers, you can achieve abstinence for the long-term. It is absolutely possible.