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For many who complete an in-patient drug or alcohol treatment program, making the transition from the treatment facility back into the “real” world is fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. This is particularly true if the person in recovery is expected to return to a stressful home environment or to a home where others with a substance use disorder also live.

According to a study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, the lack of a stable living environment that’s free of alcohol and drugs is a major obstacle to long-term recovery. Enter the sober living community, a drug- and alcohol-free living environment for people who have completed recovery but aren’t ready to return to their former living environment.

Features of a Sober Living Community

In general, sober living communities don’t offer counseling, but residents are usually required to attend a certain number of 12-Step meetings each week as well as attend mandatory weekly house meetings where residents share how things are going and set goals for the following week, according to another study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Other requirements common to sober living facilities typically include:

  • Maintaining complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
  • Obtaining a sponsor through AA or a similar program.
  • Sleeping at the facility at least five nights a week.
  • Being accountable for your whereabouts when away from the facility.
  • Conducting yourself in a manner consistent with recovery.
  • Agreeing to random drug and alcohol tests.

Residents of sober living homes usually pay their rent and utilities out of pocket, and they’re expected to share in household tasks like cleaning and maintaining the lawn.

Benefits of a Sober Living Community

It’s been well-established that social support is crucial for successful long-term recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, and numerous studies also show that the best outcomes are predicted by social supports that specifically discourage drinking or drug use. But the benefits of a sober living facility transcend abstinence alone. Sober living environments also:

  • Promote the development of healthy relationships with other non-users.
  • Offer a safe environment in which to develop social skills.
  • Promote learning or re-learning essential life skills, such as maintaining a home, paying bills, and cooking.
  • Offer a structured environment that promotes a healthy lifestyle, such as adequate sleep and a healthy diet.

After recovery, a sober living environment is an effective way to transition back to your “usual” life in a way that better prepares you to cope with the stress and other triggers that may still be present in the environment you left when you entered treatment. An addiction counselor can help you find a sober living community that’s conveniently located and assist you with the application process.

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The Benefits of a Sober Living Community
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