The Truth about Recovery Success and Sober Living
The Sober Living Environment began on the West Coast (United States) and has spread around the country. People in the Recovery Industry will sometimes refer to a sober house as an SLE. These Sober Living Environments or SLE’s provide a lot more than other traditional living places. Many of them are structured around 12-step programs and sound recovery action plans. Since people normally share rooms, it can also be a cost-effective option, for someone who is just getting back on their feet.
Many are also certified. There are a few Sober Living Coalitions and Networks. Residents are normally asked to participate in a sobriety program (for example attending 12-step meetings). There is also some accountability like a regular drug test, curfew and the requirement of a job. These things all work together to show that the person is taking important steps to long lasting recovery.
What is Sober Living?
A sober living house is a short-term step on the path to sobriety. This is a safe place where drug addicts and alcoholics can live in a supervised and sober environment. There are typically going to have a structure and rules, i.e. curfews, chores and therapeutic meetings.
In many cases, successfully maintaining sobriety requires participants to change everything about their past lives when they were using alcohol and other drugs. This could include changing jobs, eliminating friends and even abandoning loved ones who are unsupportive and toxic to their sobriety.
Research Has Been Done
Over 300 people were tested. This is what the research team learned about the effectiveness of recovery style of living. The study was done by the Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute. (This study calls the homes SLE’S for Sober Living Houses).
Lack of a stable, alcohol- and drug-free living environment can be a serious obstacle to sustained abstinence. Destructive living environments can derail recovery for even highly motivated individuals. Sober living houses (SLHs) are alcohol- and drug-free living environments for individuals attempting to abstain from alcohol and other drugs. They are not licensed or funded by state or local governments and the residents themselves pay for costs. The philosophy of recovery emphasizes 12-Step group attendance and peer support. We studied 300 individuals entering two different types of SLHs over an 18-month period. This article summarizes our published findings documenting resident improvement on measures of alcohol and drug use, employment, arrests, and psychiatric symptoms. Involvement in 12-Step groups and characteristics of the social network were strong predictors of outcome, reaffirming the importance of social and environmental factors in recovery. This article adds to our previous reports by providing a discussion of implications for treatment and criminal justice systems. We also describe the next steps in our research on SLHs, which will include: (1) an attempt to improve outcomes for residents referred from the criminal justice system and (2) a depiction of how attitudes of stakeholder groups create a community context that can facilitate and hinder the legitimacy of SLHs as a recovery modality.
The bottom line: people who have a safety net have an easier time staying sober. This last year, I have taken over 1,000 phone calls from drug addicts, alcoholics, and their family members. From these conversations, I have put dozens of folks into treatment facilities and sober living environments. These people come from every imaginable demographic and they are spread around the country.
What has all of this hands-on engagement taught me? It has shown there is a special formula for success. (1) put the person in the car for a long ride or on a plane. This gets them away from their friends and drug dealers. (2) have them stay in a three-month treatment program. This gives enough time for their brains to change. (3) when they leave the drug rehab, have the person live in a sober living environment (or their safe home if they are married or have children). If you really want to knock it out of the park, following a long-term sobriety plan that keeps them accountable will do the trick.
Sober Living Ethics
Most Sober Living Homes are going to have some guidelines to follow. When you are looking at a potential living arrangement, ask to see their general code of conduct rules. At a minimum, you should expect to see something like the following
Our Sober Living Home agrees to:
1. Be committed to respecting the dignity and worth of all our residents.
2. Maintain a high-quality house that is consistent with the quality of the neighborhood.
3. Demonstrate activities that benefit the surrounding neighbors.
4. Maintain an alcohol and drug-free environment.
5. Residents are to remain alcohol-free.
6. All heads of households who are alcoholics or addicts to be clean and sober at least one year and remain sober.
7. Submit to random drug testing.
8. No physical violence, or threat of violence, in the home.
9. No weapons are allowed on sober living premises.
10. No romantic or sexual involvement with anyone in the recovery residence.
11. No meddling in financial affairs. This includes borrowing or lending money, buying or selling of the property or other financial transactions.
12. Operate the house in a “complaint-free” way so that complaints from clients, neighbors, and service providers are not reported.
13. Provide residents with rules that reflect the house.
14. Respect the privacy and personal rights of all participants.
Sober Living Tips
Your body is going to need some healing after you stop using drugs and alcohol. Now that you are sober, start some healthy habits. Addiction creates a toxic lifestyle. Start eating three meals a day. It might not seem like a big deal, but it can help to avoid cravings. When your body doesn’t get the correct nutrients your thinking is not going to be clear. Regular meals (sitting down with your sober roommates) is going to create good thinking and proper choices. You are also working on your friendship and fellowship skills! In general eat foods that are low fat, high protein, and high fiber.
Taking a multivitamin is a good idea, as well. Addiction recovery includes the spirit, mind, and body. Exercising can play a large role in recovery by reducing negative behaviors. Regular fitness is known to release endorphins, which are your body’s natural feel-good compounds. It also gives your mind freedom from negative thoughts.
One downside is that many of these places are privately run. Keep in mind that they are going to be profit based. This can be either a good thing or bad. It just depends on the goals of the owner. Ask a lot of questions and walk away if anything seems shady.
If you need to second opinion regarding a sober living arrangement, just drop us a line. After doing this for over 20 years, we know what works.