Sober living homes offer a safe and comfortable solution for people who have completed their addiction treatment. These homes usually host a number of like-minded people who share the goal of staying sober and continuing their wellness plans. They are a great asset to those who worry that a direct return to their old environment may lead to relapse, as sober living homes offer more support, structure, and accountability than typical home environments.1
People may choose sober living homes if they:
- Do not feel comfortable living independently in sobriety
- Do not have a supportive home to go to right away
- Would like more therapeutic support and guidance
- Would like more time to find a home, a job, and therapeutic support
Sober living rarely comes with clear instructions. Therefore, many people are unsure how long they should stay in a sober living environment before moving out into the community. What is right for you?
“Before I got sober, I had a job, 401K and insurance — everything that looked good on paper,” writes Stephanie A. at HeroesInRecovery.com, “but I did not know how to live in reality. Sober living taught me how to live in the real world sober. I went to meetings, I got a sponsor, and I worked the steps. I had people that supported me. I learned how to build relationships with other people but also learned about myself.”
Like every part of your recovery, the length of time you spend in a sober living home should be determined based on your unique needs. Some people will not enroll in a sober living home at all while others will spend a year or more in a sober environment before moving out on their own. Your choice should be made based on whether or not you:
- Have a home to move into that is safe and supportive of your recovery (e.g., all other people living in the home are clean and sober or will agree not to bring substances into the home)
- Have employment that will cover the cost of rent, utilities, a car payment, gas, insurance, groceries, etc.
- Feel like you will be able to avoid relapse when you are without round-the-clock support
- Have all your treatment needs in place within the community (e.g., regular 12-Step meetings, a trusted counselor, etc.)
If you have all of those things, and you feel comfortable and ready to take on your new life in recovery, then you are ready to leave sober living. If any of these things is not in place, it may be a better choice for you to stay until you have everything you need to thrive in recovery.
Transitioning Out of Sober Living
There are a number of ways you can make your time in sober living more beneficial. By taking these steps, you will help yourself move back into a successful new life sooner. These include:
- Establish your treatment schedule: If you choose sober living near where you will live in the future, you can find a therapist, find the most comfortable support groups, and meet and start seeing the doctors you need to see for your best health.
- Establish well-rounded treatments: If you enjoy yoga, find a yoga class near you and attend regularly. If you need to find an acupuncturist or a masseuse to help you lower stress and thrive in recovery, do this before you leave sober living.
- Make positive lifestyle choices: Get into the habit of getting good sleep, eating well, and exercising so you can maintain an even keel when you move out on your own.
- Find a job, or find a better job: Take the time to interview for positions and get comfortable in a new job that suits your new life. Finding stable income will help take the stress off your move.
- Find the right place to live: A safe, budget-friendly living arrangement that does not risk your recovery isn’t always easy to find. Make sure you have the right place before you get ready to move out.
There is no set time to stay in sober living, but once you feel confident and have the support of your friends and treatment team, you will know when the time is right. The most important thing in recovery is to take progressive steps at your own pace as you feel ready. Get the guidance you need to make positive choices in treatment when you contact Black Bear Lodge today.
1 Polcin, Douglas L. et al. “What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?” Journal of psychoactive drugs42.4 (2010): 425–433. Print.