What is a sober house?
In this article, we’re exploring some of the aspects that define what a sober house is so you know what to expect.
What is a Sober House?
The idea of a sober living home has existed since the 1800s, with the Washingtonian Temperance Society in Boston. The next big movement with sober living happened in the 1900s with Alcoholics Anonymous. And since this time, sober living facilities have evolved.
Their “Twelfth Step Houses” helped lay the groundwork for what exists today. But it is modern sober living homes’ leaders who are adapting the programs to match the addiction problems of today, which have grown both in number and substances abused.
Just like most other things, there are good and bad models. This is true for the sober home living industry as well. Some are focused more on the business side of the program, treating residents more like a customer than a recovering addict.
Other programs focus only on the recovery side, and not enough on how to keep the program running financially.
The best programs have a healthy balance of both.
When balanced, the mission, vision, and goals of the facility easily fall into place. Factors like safety, structure, and staying sober can become top priority.
Keep reading to learn more about these factors and how they define a sober house.
A Safe Environment Where You Can Focus
If you are considering transitioning from rehab to a sober home, look for the one that is the safest. All sober houses may claim they are safe, but not all are telling the truth.
A good sober house will be able to prove to you that safety is provided. They can do this by giving statistics for the area. How many incidences were reported at the facility in the last month? How many times were police called to the area and why?
Request the rehab to take you on a tour of the sober house.
The neighborhood can tell you a lot about safety. If the homes have bars on the windows, they are trying to keep people from breaking in. Check for signs of gang activity, as well as drug activity. If you have been an addict for long, you know what drug activity looks like. If you see it in the area of the sober house, don’t go.
Also, on your tour, take note of the current residents. Are they happy, sad, fighting? Ask them why they like the sober home and if they recommend it. If you are new to sober living, this may be the first time you learn that sober houses are shared with other addicts in recovery.
You can expect to be living with other recovering addicts while in a sober house. You may have already met them in rehab.
Sharing space with others in recovery can be beneficial. As an addict, you learned how to be isolated and alone with only your drug of choice. Now you need to learn how to rely on and help others. Addiction teaches you to be selfish and fulfill your own needs first. Sober living teaches you how to evaluate and prioritize in a way that meets your needs and those of others.
Living in a shared environment can give you opportunities to practice social skills, which are important for avoiding a relapse.
A Supportive Group
One of your main goals after rehab is to stay sober. And one of the main ways to do this is to build a healthy support system. Support systems are made up of people, places and things that help you when you are feeling great, and when you feel like relapsing is your only option.
Your support system can include a sponsor, a therapist, doctors, sober and non-enabling family and friends, and support groups or meetings. It can include online AA and NA meetings, smartphone APPs created to help you beat cravings, or a book of motivational quotes.
And yes, your support system can include the residents of the sober living house. Your peers can sometimes be the best support because they see you every day, they can tell what kind of mood you are in, and they know what it feels like to struggle with addiction.
In fact, you will likely need to be a support for them too.
A Place for Structure and Guidance
Sober houses are not anything like fraternity or sorority houses. Sure, you are living with a bunch of people of the same gender, but the environment is much more structured.
That’s because a structured environment will help you stay sober, whereas an unsupervised, unstructured environment can be a trigger for relapse.
As an addict, your entire lifestyle was unstructured and revolved around staying high.
In a sober house, you are given a schedule that can teach you habits to help you avoid relapse. You wake up at a decent hour and have a curfew. This is not to punish you. It is an educational tool for learning to live sober.
Having structure bothers some residents. They feel limits are being put on them and that they are not allowed the freedom to do their own thing. This is correct.
Doing their own thing, and having too much freedom, means they are going to relapse. If they relapse and return to the sober house, that may trigger other relapses. Structure is a benefit for all residents.
A Place of Healthy Activity and Spirituality
Learning to live drug free, and proving to yourself you can win in sobriety, can become a spiritual experience. The more you learn about yourself and your true purpose, the more you can recognize there is a higher power in control, and that wants you to live a happy, healthy, productive life.
A spiritual connection helps you let go of past pains, forgive yourself and others, and move forward with the great life you deserve.
Your spiritual connection can help you progress rapidly in your recovery. It can also help you build stronger, positive relationships with others, as well as eliminate the relationships that can harm you.
Finally, sober houses help you transition back into society, but with practice and experience using the tools you learned in treatment. It can help you stay sober.