How Staying in Sober Living Can Help You Stay Clean

woman staying at a sober living home with her pet for addiction treatment

If you’re leaving rehab then you know that moving back into your own home and living by yourself is a lot of pressure. It means you immediately have to get good at staying clean and sober without the support and infrastructure of residential treatment. That’s even true if you’re leaving outpatient treatment and aren’t quite ready to try living without support and structure just yet. Sober living, sometimes called a “halfway house”, can bridge the gap between treatment and fully getting back on your feet. That can give you the structure and the support you need to stay clean and sober.

Sober living homes are a great choice whether you have a home to go back to, don’t yet have an apartment, have been in residential treatment, or have been in outpatient care. Many offer stay durations of 3-18 months, giving you the time you need to live in a supported environment for as long as you need to feel ready to stay clean and sober on your own.

Sober Living Offers Accountability

One of the most important ways that sober living can help you to stay clean is by providing accountability. Often that turns into multiple forms of accountability including direct authority of someone checking in on you and social accountability. How does that work?

Sober living homes mean that you stay in a group home, typically with either a shared room or a private room and communal living. You have a structure with check-ins and people checking in on you to make sure you’re following house rules like not bringing drugs or alcohol, coming home clean and sober, and otherwise keeping to expectations of staying clean and sober. Most sober homes have someone to check in on that and some form of check, meaning you have that accountability. Bringing drugs and alcohol home can mean losing your place in the home.

In addition, you’ll get social accountability with 12-step meetings Here, the people living with you will expect you to stay clean and sober as much as they are. That means people who are relying on you to not drink and use so they can stay in a safe space without drugs and alcohol. You’ll be making friends, meeting peers, spending time with groups of people, and sharing your journey and your recovery with them. That will provide significant social accountability to stay clean and sober because a relapse will mean telling the people you live with that you relapsed.

Structure in Your Daily Life

Sober homes can help you build structure for your life so you can work towards having that when you live on your own. Often, sober homes are a step down from the structured daily life of staying in rehab. However, you’ll still get a defined daily schedule with a time for lights out, mealtimes, and more. In fact, often, sober living centers will have:

  • Bedtime and wakeup schedules. That means lights out at a specific time and a lights-on routine. You can opt out of this but it will make it harder to stay in the sober home. That might look like 10 PM to 6 AM or 11 PM to 7 AM depending on where you’re at.
  • Communal meals at set times. You’re likely expected to wake up, eat breakfast with the group before work, come home, eat dinner together, and on weekends potentially also have lunch together. That provides structure and routine. However, it also means you’ll be sharing set time with a group and having points to connect with your group.
  • Planned activities like exercise and walking to ensure you do things together and work on a healthy exercise routine. Some sober homes have exercise groups that get to use the gym at certain times to ensure everyone gets a chance to exercise at a convenient time.
  • Scheduled cleaning and chores. Some sober homes will have staff to help take care of cleaning and cooking. Others will offer a minimum of support and will instead put everyone in the home on roster to share chores. That will help you to build a schedule and good routines, while taking away much of the pressure of forcing you into personal accountability for taking care of your space.

woman staying at sober living homes gets social support

Social Support

Sober homes can vary a great deal in size. Some will only be home to a few people. Others will house 20 or more people. Whatever your specific living situation, you’ll get social support from your group. For that reason, many sober living homes have interviews and work to make sure you fit with the group and get along with everyone. Once you’re there, you’ll have people to spend time with, people to eat with, people to exercise with, people to do hobbies with. That might not turn into friendships. However, it will mean that you have people around you while you’re figuring yourself out. That can improve feelings of loneliness. People also often do make friends and that will pay off, because those friends will be clean and sober like yourself and in a similar period of their life, with similar priorities. You’ll also get opportunities for sober activities and social events, because you can spend time with your sober home group and have parties together if you want to relax or have fun.

Transitioning Back to Daily Life

Moving back into your life can be a challenge when you’re stepping out of addiction and into recovery. That’s also true if you’ve been in an inpatient rehab center with structure and every part of your day planned out. If you’ve spent time with a substance use disorder, you don’t have the habits or the patterns to allow you to take care of yourself and function in a healthy and practical way. You’ll have to build up those routines so you can clean, cook for yourself, make space for having fun, and do so in a healthy way.

A sober home is a transitional step between having no structure or too much structure and setting that structure for yourself. You’ll have defined schedules and people to help. You’ll also have rosters and shared chores. But, you’ll have less structure than in a rehab center. In addition, you’ll be able to work on figuring out what works for you, what to do with the free time that you do have, and on other steps. For example, you’ll be able to focus on coming to terms with your life, with taking steps towards healing relationships with friends and family, and towards building social support networks, rather than on learning how to take care of yourself again.

Access to Ongoing Care

Sober homes don’t normally provide treatment and therapy. However, some of them will have an on-staff counselor. Most will have networks to help you get back into treatment, and quickly, if things go wrong. For example, many sober living centers are attached to treatment centers because they want to be able to provide transitions to and from treatment. This means that if you relapse, you’ll be in a place to get ongoing care. It will also be extremely easy to get continuing care and aftercare. For example, some sober homes actually offer ongoing group therapy and counseling, so you’ll have resources to reach out to in case you do need that ongoing support.

If you or a loved one is in recovery, a sober home can help you to stay clean and sober. That’s true whether you’ve been to inpatient or outpatient rehab. You’ll have a structured living environment with social accountability, set times to be home, people checking up on you, and access to ongoing care. That will help you to bridge the gap between treatment and recovery, while ensuring you have a safety net so you can stay clean and sober.

About Jim Sugel

SEO and Digital Marketing Expert Jim Sugel is an SEO and Digital Marketing Expert in addition to having achieved the coveted Google Partner status for PPC expertise. Prior to focusing on Digital Marketing, Jim worked in Information Technology roles at a variety of national firms as a software engineer and consultant, resulting in many years of professional coding and consulting experience. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science, cum laude in Computer Science and Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. After relocating to Southern California from his native Chicago, he became involved in the recovery industry here, discovering a natural niche in helping treatment centers with Digital Marketing and other technology projects. Jim is the Founder and CEO of Airtight Digital, a firm that specializes in digital marketing for the behavioral health industry. His other interests include hiking, canyoneering, urban exploration, and screenwriting. Jim now lives in beautiful and sunny Orange County, California.