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How Can I Choose the Right Sober Living Program?


group of young adults in a sober living home

A sober living program helps people who are newly in recovery abstain from drug and alcohol use. Sober living programs were built off the idea of halfway houses, which gained popularity during the latter half of the 20th century. These homes provide safe and supportive alcohol- and drug-free living environments.

The History of Halfway Houses

During the 1960s and 1970s, addiction recovery experts realized how critical a person’s environment was to their ability to stay sober. The number of halfway houses increased as a result, but these living environments had their limits.

Typically, people were only allowed to stay for a particular period of time in a halfway house, even if they were not quite ready to manage their recovery on their own. Also, since these spaces received funding from the government, they were often vulnerable to budget cuts.

Because of these limitations, addiction professionals developed an alternative known as sober living programs. These living spaces were designed to work around some of the drawbacks connected to halfway houses.

Main Characteristics of Sober Living Programs

While every sober living environment is unique, all sober living programs should address several main needs during the recovery process.

First, they should provide a safe living environment for individuals seeking to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Sober living programs don’t offer any formal treatment services, but they often strongly encourage attendance at self-help groups, such as 12-step programs.

Another common characteristic of all sober living programs is that residents must adhere to house rules. These typically include maintaining abstinence, paying rent and other fees, participating in house chores, and attending house meetings.

All costs associated with the sober living program are the responsibility of the residents, who may stay as long as they want if they abide by the rules of the sober living program.

One of the main advantages of a sober living program is that it gives a person additional time to develop their coping skills and learn to navigate everyday life without using drugs or alcohol. They offer the individual valuable time to readjust to the world after detox or inpatient treatment without all the stress associated with daily life. These programs can be especially helpful for anyone who may not have a supportive or stable home environment to return to.

What to Look for in a Sober Living Program

Each sober living program will be different and may offer various benefits. Anyone considering these houses needs to consider what programs will give them the best shot at long-term recovery. One of the main benefits of a sober living program is the peer support it provides residents, since everyone living in the house shares in the recovery experience. Living amongst like-minded individuals helps provide motivation and promote a positive outlook as each resident learns how best to maintain their recovery.

Other aspects of sober living programs to consider include:

  • CertificationIs the program certified by any sober living coalitions/networks, such as CARF, NARR, or another credible agency?
  • Level of supportDoes the home offer 24-hour supervision by clinically certified staff? Typically, the more structure, the better your chance for long-term sobriety.
  • Services offeredDoes the sober living program provide what you need, such as medical access, complementary therapies, or other services?
  • Specialized sober livingDoes the home offer services geared toward specific or vulnerable populations, including the LGBTQ community or veterans?
  • Licensed clinical staffWhat is the resident to-clinical-staff ratio?
  • Mandatory support groupDoes the home require residents to attend a 12-step group or other supportive program?
  • Program sizeHow many residents live in the home, and would a smaller group provide more individual focus?

The decision to choose a sober living program is a personal one. However, for many, choosing a sober living program can be more helpful than living alone. Addiction is a chronic disease, and often the person has accumulated habits that have contributed to their addiction. A sober living house is a safe space to learn to break those bad habits while embarking on a new life of recovery. Another advantage of these living spaces is that they provide a supportive environment to learn new behaviors to help manage triggers that lead to relapse.

Building on a belief that spiritual development and healthy recovery can bring inner peace to clients overcoming addiction and substance abuse, Into Action Recovery Centers takes a people-centered approach to addiction treatment. Our rehab centers are conveniently located in Houston, Texas, and our programs are led by experienced Master’s level counselors and medical professionals who specialize in personalized treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.

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