A sober living home represents a transitionary phase in one’s recovery. It is an essential step between leaving an intensive substance abuse treatment program and reentering the world on your own.
Choosing the right sober living home is a crucial element of the recovery process. It is an important determinant of the success of achieving long term sobriety. Many people in recovery recognize the utility of sober living. However, they are often at a loss when it comes to how to go about choosing a quality sober living home.
Selecting a sober living home that is the right fit requires the same amount of due diligence as choosing an intensive drug rehab facility. It is not something to be taken lightly. Realize that your choice represents a decision that will decide where you call home for the next 30 days to 6 months.
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What should you look for in a sober living home?
If you are looking for a quality sober living home, the following are features that you should consider before you start your search:
1. Location, location, location
When you begin your search for a quality sober living home realize that location will be one of the key factors to consider. You’ll want to find a sober living home that is in a safe, clean, and convenient location.
Your daily routine is a crucial factor in maintaining your sobriety. It will, in large part, determine the area you choose to live in.
You’ll want to make sure the sober living home is close to such activities as:
- Your support network,
- Community resources,
- 12-step meetings,
- Therapy sessions,
- Other resources that you will require to maintain a solid foundation while in recovery.
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2. Low resident to staff ratio
Quality sober living facilities typically have a low resident to staff ratio. Having an adequate staff count will help maintain a safe, comfortable, and orderly sober living environment. The integrity of the household also relies on having adequately trained staff.
Experienced staff members will be able to maintain a drug-free environment. They can help mitigate conflict that might emerge between fellow residents.
Additionally, low patient to staff ratios means that staff will be better able to provide you the personal support and attention that you will need to continue working your program of recovery.
3. How long can you stay?
In general, sober living homes provide the structure needed for you to maintain your sobriety. In addition, it should also help you build stability and confidence in your recovery.
With that being said, your length of stay will, in large, part be determined by your personal progress. It also depends on how stable you feel in your recovery before branching out on your own.
Most sober living homes will allow you to stay as long as you need. However, some may place strict guidelines on length of stay.
Additionally, sober living staff may do periodic evaluations to gauge your progression. You need to find a sober living home whose staff is attentive to your progress and offer you the support you need to help guide your recovery.
Everyone is different so you may require more or less time than someone else. You’ll want to make sure the sober living facility you choose is flexible regarding the length of stay.
Transportation is often a significant factor for those in recovery. Substance abuse comes with many negative consequences including often the loss of driving privileges. A major factor to consider is whether the sober living house offers transportation options or is close to local resources or transportation sources.
The recovery process may require attending many daily obligations, including, attending court dates, recovery-based meetings, or an outpatient treatment program. Being in a location that allows you the ability to conduct your day to day activities while relying on alternative forms of transportation should be one of the primary considerations when choosing a sober living home.
5. Zero-tolerance policies
A quality sober living space must have a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs and alcohol on the premises. Sober living facilities need to have policies and guidelines in place and be proactive and vigilant in its enforcement.
If anyone is caught with substances on or off premises, staff should have measures in place to immediately remove those in violation of that policy. This type of enforcement helps protect the safety and well-being of both residents and staff.
6. Who will be your housemates?
Depending on the cost of the house, location, and general philosophy and culture of a sober living establishment the type of residents in the home may vary. While the occupants of a sober living house are typically composed on a diverse group of people based on age, occupation, etc., it’s essential to get a general feel for the type of people you would be rooming or sharing a house with.
Some sober living homes are designed to cater to specific demographics such as
- Gender-specific homes
- Houses that support alternative lifestyles such as LBGT homes
- Houses that help those with co-occurring disorders that require staff with additional training or credentials.
Touring multiple houses is always recommended so you can get a feel for the general vibe of a sober living environment and determine whether it suits your needs.
Overall cost is a huge consideration when looking for a sober living home. While it is possible to find affordable sober living options, it’s important to understand that you often get what you pay for.
Sober living is an essential step in the recovery process. It should be considered an investment in your future happiness and well-being.
There are many factors that contribute to the cost of a sober living house. They include:
- The location of the house
- Quality of the house
- Amount of structure, management, and services that will be provided to you.
Depending on your personal needs and desired level of comfort the price of a stay at a sober living house can vary quite dramatically. It’s crucial that you to get clear on what resources you will need during your stay and to visit multiple homes to get a feel for the house, staff, and residents.
The cost of sober living is influenced by the number of residents, programs and house amenities as well as other factors. While a sober living facility may be inexpensive, the cost shouldn’t be your only consideration. A low-cost facility may not be worth it if it does not provide you with the support, amenities, and services you need.
7. Is the sober living home geared for your needs?
Much like drug treatment itself, the sober living facility you are looking at needs to be structured to fit your unique needs and recovery goals.
There are sober living homes that are set up to accommodate the needs of specific demographics such as women or men. Additionally, there are also homes set up to meet the needs of those in the LGTBQ community and others who may have special needs.
Do your research and find a home that can
adequately address your needs.
The bottom line
While other considerations can factor into your decision, these basic guidelines will get you moving in the right direction. If you have completed a drug treatment program, consider transitioning into a sober living program before deciding to head straight back into living on your own. The extra support and resources you receive will help strengthen your recovery for the long run.
Robert Tropp is a functional nutrition practitioner whose primary focus is substance abuse and mental health disorders. Robert used functional medicine to help heal his mind and body, and now uses the lessons he learned in his journey to wellness to help others to regain their mental and physical well-being. Robert is an advocate for the importance of nutrition in addiction recovery and works as the health and wellness director at NuView Treatment Center in Marina Del Rey, CA.