In 2016, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 28 million people over the age of 11 used an illegal drug in the last 30 days, which represents approximately 1 in 10 Americans but is as high as 1 in 4 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. Despite age, the estimate for illegal drug use in 2016 is primarily driven by marijuana use and prescription pain reliever misuse. Among individuals over the age of 11, 24 million currently use marijuana, and over 3 million were misusing prescription pain relievers. Smaller numbers of people were regular users of hallucinogens, methamphetamine, heroin cocaine, or inhalants. Addiction is considered a chronic brain disease with rates of relapse between 40-60%, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Relapse is returning to alcohol or drug use after a period of sobriety or abstinence. Relapse is often considered an inherent component of addiction recovery and treatment, as relapse rates have been demonstrated to be in-line with those of other chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma, and diabetes states the NIDA. Aftercare services post-inpatient addiction treatment can be vital to assist in preventing, or at least minimizing, relapse episodes.
What Are Sober Living Homes?
Sober living homes, frequently referred to as recovery homes, halfway houses, or transitional living facilities, are a step-down from residential addiction treatment programs. Sober homes can present a gradual transition alternative for people after completing a substance abuse treatment program and prepare them for an eventual return to their schools, careers, and homes. This supportive transition can offer structure, guidance and an opportunity to develop and practice new skills and tools preparing them to navigate the world as recovered individuals and learning how to be alcohol and drug-free in a community living environment.
A referral to a sober living home can originate from family and friends, from an inpatient or residential treatment program, or from the criminal justice system. In a report published by the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 25% of people in sober living homes were referred by the criminal justice system, 23% by friends or family, 20% were self-referrals, and 13% were referred by an inpatient residential substance abuse treatment center.
People in sober living homes are required to refrain from using alcohol and drugs and are typically required to attend support group meetings, therapy and counseling sessions, and taker advantage of other support services. Sober living homes house a variety of people, but all are in recovery and are motivated to stay abstinent. The community within a home or homes provides a built-in peer support network of people with similar experiences and goals.
The homes could be residential homes, apartments, condos in family neighborhoods. Depending on the size of the home, there are varying degrees of residents who live in each particular house. Each sober living home may be configured differently, although residents are usually expected to contribute to the upkeep of the house, and in many cases, there is a chore schedule. Some homes have implemented democratic voting systems or a resident leadership hierarchy. There are usually rules about guests, mealtimes, lights out, and a curfew in most sober living homes. The rules may be determined by the individuals living in the house or, in more structured environments, the house manager or program director. The golden rule across all homes stipulates complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs. Sober living homes might be affiliated with local treatment providers. Substance abuse treatment programs can provide oversight in some instances, although this is not typical.
Sober living homes may not require individuals to take part in treatment, but they may actively recommend participation in 12-Step support groups or similar programs. An Oxford House is a self-governed form of sober living home, and a report in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs indicates that more than 3/4 of residents in this kind of transitional home attend 12-Step groups at least once a week. Even if it is not a requirement, this style of support is often recommended during recovery and while residing in a sober living home. Residents of sober living homes may also attend individual and group therapy and counseling sessions in addition to receiving treatment for co-occurring disorders while residing in the home.
How to Choose a Sober Living Home
Individuals who struggle with alcohol and drug abuse might benefit from living in a sober living home. Although those who are diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders, have been through multiple treatment programs, lack a supportive home environment, or are resistant to treatment and recovery may get the most benefit from long-term addiction treatment that includes sober living homes as part of their treatment planning, indicates Psych Central. Sober living homes can be an effective component of a treatment plan when a person transitions between levels of care. In many cases, it is the last step before returning home and back to life. People often return to the workforce, go back to school, and begin the process of reintegrating back into their lives while residing in a sober living home. Most sober living homes will require residents to spend at least five nights a week in the house while allowing them to gradually spend time at their homes. This is a good way to ease the transition back into living at home and taking on the inherent obligations, and potential triggers, of home life.
- Many of the best resources for finding a sober living home are substance abuse treatment programs, 12-Step meeting, or addiction and mental health experts. A few tips on how to choose a sober living home for you include:
- Find a home that is located near 12-step meetings, outpatient treatment services, and transportation (if you do not have a vehicle).
- Be sure to review the rules and requirements of the home. Make sure you understand them and that they seem reasonable.
- Find a sober house that has a variety of individuals in recovery. For instance, those who have been clean for more than 30 days.
- Speak with people who have lived, or who are living, at the sober living home. They can provide the best insight. Any quality home should be able to provide a list of references.
Find a Sober Living Home
Sober living homes may or may not be accredited or licensed. It can depend on the state that they are located in. The National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) sets national standards to certify sober living homes and that people can utilize to find a sober living home with a reputation for quality care.