In a study of sober living houses, the National Institutes of Health found that drug addicts and alcoholics who cycle directly out of inpatient treatment into their old lives face a greatly elevated chance of relapse. Without sober living homes or other ways to bridge the gap between total-immersion residential care facilities and the unrestricted environments that they came from before entering care, compulsive substance abusers are far more likely to revert to their old patterns of use very soon after being discharged.
Longer stays at inpatient facilities are impractical for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the high cost of full-service treatment. Unfortunately, staying in residential care is often just too expensive and resource intensive to be practical for the vast majority of patients. There is also the undesirable outcome of a patient who undergoes an extended stay in a rehab clinic becoming acclimated to the intensive therapeutic environment and eventually facing discharge without having acquired the necessary skills for long-term sobriety outside of the clinical environment.
A Supplement to Recovery
Fortunately, there is an alternative to release straight back into the patient’s usual environment. Sober living houses, also known as halfway homes or halfway houses, occupy the space between inpatient care and returning home. They supplement the formal treatment and recovery process by creating an intermediate sober living environment with less supervision than found in a clinic but with more structure and peer support than can be expected in the patient’s home environment.
What to Expect
Making the decision to seek help for an addiction can be frightening. The world of use, abuse and addiction doesn’t let go easily, and it takes courage to pick up the phone and reach out for help. When inpatient treatment concludes, a new and equally scary vista opens up: facing the world again, but now sober.
A sober house is more than just a place to sit and wait passively. Spending time in a sober home can give a recovering addict the space to get a head start on a new sober lifestyle. Some of the things people in recovery can do from the support base of a sober living home are:
Organize a job search Looking for employment will never be easier for a person in recovery than when a support system is in place and a schedule is provided that allows adequate time for the application process, including interviews and pre-employment drug screenings.
Adjust to sobriety While housed in a residential inpatient program, a patient often has very few liberties. Back at home, the sudden burden of making responsible decisions can be too much to handle. A sober living program will have rules to follow, but these rules always have an emphasis on the eventual transition back to independence.
Arrange housing Many residents come to their sober living house without any other homes to speak of. Others have homes but are rightly afraid that returning to their old stomping grounds will lead to temptation. After all, it can be difficult to resist a craving when the recovering addict knows every place within walking distance to get drugs. Time spent in a halfway house can be put toward an apartment search with lots of feedback from other residents and the staff regarding what to look out for.
Mend fences An important step in the recovery process is to make amends to those who have been affected by the addict’s actions. This process can be liberating. The support one finds in the community of fellow addicts will help guide the resident through the process of rebuilding shattered relationships and putting back together some kind of outside support network.
Putting It All Together
In 2010, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published the results of an exhaustive study on the statistics for former residents of sober living houses. The research found that at six-month intervals ranging up to 18 months post-treatment, recovering addicts who passed through some kind of structured halfway house environment were significantly less likely to face relapse, arrest and homelessness. One of the key findings of the study was that a major factor in the improved outcomes for the subjects was the large and mostly positive community of support that was established in the very early days of sober living.
It’s never easy to change a lifetime of addiction. The work is hard and sometimes the goal can seem very far off. To make the difficult decision to go through the work of detoxing in an inpatient environment, only to relapse soon after completing the program is disheartening. A strong community of fellow addicts in recovery can make all the difference in the world. For information about starting your journey to recovery, please call 888.302.6790 to learn about how Westport House can become your sober living home in Fairfield County today.