The perfect transition for those who just completed a drug or alcohol treatment program is to live in a sober living facility (also known as halfway homes) before returning back to their previous living situation. Choosing to live in halfway house or sober living residence is a great option to consider if you want to live a sober lifestyle and be surrounded by others on the same path. The added accountability of living in a sober home is the perfect transitional housing before returning back home with minimal sober support. After successfully completing a drug and alcohol treatment program, this is the transitional step and a more informal treatment program before just getting thrown back into society. Halfway homes are safe living facilities that do not tolerate the use of mind altering substances or alcohol from the residents.
What is a Halfway House for Drug Addicts?
Sober living residence, (sober living) facilities or halfway homes are considered a transitional living set up for those in recovery for substance abuse and addiction. People move into a sober living facility after successfully completing a drug or alcohol treatment program, after getting out of jail/prison, or if they have been in a homeless situation. There are court order halfway home requirements for some, but for most it is a choice an individual chooses in order to have rules and accountability in early recovery.
Varieties in Halfway Houses
Many treatment centers will suggest as a part of their aftercare plan with a client that they seek sober living. There are a variety when it comes to different sober living facilities. Some may have a house set up with a manager who is holding everyone accountable to the rules and regulations of the living situation. Other houses may have more of a democratic set up with everyone having equal say. The main goal is a sober atmosphere for everyone in the home.
There are stricter halfway homes that enforce a curfew, monitor visitors, and require attendance in 12-step meetings. Then, there are also sober living homes that have minimal rules, but just require the housemate to be drug and alcohol free. When an individual is choosing a sober living facility there are a number of things they should keep in mind in order to make sure they are in the perfect living situation for them.
Key Factors In Choosing the Right Halfway Home
In early recovery, there are a number of key factors to keep in mind before making a decision to choose a sober living home that is appropriate for an individual and their needs. Choosing a sober living facility is as important of a decision as choosing to stay clean and sober. Living in the wrong house can lead to problems, and there are many sober living homes that are not properly ran and being involved with a sober living facility that is not conducting themselves properly can lead to relapse sooner than later. Everyone who makes a choice to live in a sober living facility should participate in tours of different homes and keep the following things in mind before making a final decision.
The location of a sober living residence goes a long way for someone in early recovery. It is one of the most important things to look for while on a halfway house search. A good neighborhood and being within a close proximity to certain places are key attributes.
For the transition back into society. The first thing the individual should want to do is gain or continue their employment. So the vicinity of the halfway home to a town or city area is a good idea. Also, many of those in early recovery do not have their own transportation so another thing to consider is if the sober living facility is by local public transportation, this can include bus lines and trains. If the sober living facility is in a city or town setting, one can easily get around on bicycle.
It is important that a sober house is not located close to any known drug areas, there is already enough temptation with being back in the real world, seeing drug dealers on a daily basis should not be one of them. Other temptations to avoid are liquor stores, plus the areas that have these types of establishments usually aren’t the best neighborhood for a halfway house. The neighborhood should also be safe, secure, and within a close proximity to local 12-step meetings. A large part of life in early recovery should be getting into a 12-step program and homegroup that goes best with your individual preferences and needs. Having your residence close to a number of 12-step meeting locations will be key in your success in early recovery.
An individual who is in early recovery should want to have an added accountability, and that being a large reason who they are choosing a sober living residence. Accountability comes in different forms, it can be used in order for one to achieve their goals in early recovery, being surrounded by those on the same mission of recovery and a reminder that the end goal is always being the best version of oneself. When someone is new in the recovery process, it is difficult to not fall back into negative habits, this is where accountability comes into play. The people who run a sober living facility or roommates within a halfway house should be there to encourage the newly recovered but also be able to give the “tough love” that may be needed.
Drug testing should be a standard and nightly breathalyzers should be administered to keep everyone accountable and honest. All good and credible halfway houses have some measure of accountability when it comes to drug and alcohol testing, this should be done at least twice a week.
Another good practice that most sober living homes offer is a mandatory curfew. This is a positive practice, many in early recovery do not see the significance in a curfew, but it goes with having an added accountability. With newly added freedom there must be rules in place to keep people accountable and a reasonable curfew should be one of them.
Questions to Ask House Managers:
- Will roommates call out an individual if they see something wrong?
- Are you required to go to a certain number of 12-step meetings a week?
- Are there house chores?
- Is there a certain standard of living that an individual is expected to live up to?
Are There Sober Living House Rules?
As previously mentioned, accountability is one of the most important concepts in early recovery. It is necessary to make sure old self-destructive ways don’t resurface. Having a house full of peers going through the same trials and tribulations of early recovery together will help everyone in creating positive habits. Living in a sober environment will give the individual the chance to gain knowledge and strength to make good decisions.
We have already briefly touched on safety when we discussed location, but safety is not just a concern when it comes to where the halfway home is located. A home is considered to most, a place of serenity.
Safety within a sober home is important. There should be rules in place to ensure everyone living within the house always feel safe. No one should ever have to worry about a roommate going through another’s belongings or stealing, rules are essential in ensuring this doesn’t happen. The last thing that those in early recovery should have to deal with is stress from the fact that they feel unsafe at their home. Tours are important when it comes to the safety issue, this allows a pretty detailed look into the safety of the halfway and surrounding neighborhood.
A credible sober home will have 24/7 supervision. The importance of taking a tour of halfway homes before making any decision is pretty apparent. This will gives a first hand introduction to the support staff of the sober living facility that is of interest.
Having staff available at all hours of the day is important to discourage any arguments between roommates, and if there are any problems or issues that must be addressed. A strong support staff would be strong in their recovery, genuinely caring, but also is not afraid to lay down the rules of the house.
Good support staff would be a friend to those in need. In early recovery, being new to the AA or NA meeting scene, a house manager is someone who would make all the appropriate introductions. A good house manager is a great first friend in early recovery.
Sober Living Transitional Housing
In order to be successful in the early stages of recovery, an individual must be supplied with all the accessible tools to do so. As humans, we rely on others in order to survive, so it is important to be surrounded by people who can help you transition back into a good routine in order to become a productive member of society.
In the rooms, there is a general idea of “addicts helping other addicts” or “alcoholics helping other alcoholics” and that is what you should feel is the attitude of any sober living facility you choose to call your home. You want to know that you can count on your roommates to pick up your spirits when you’ve had a bad day, or pick you up from a meeting if you walked and it’s raining. We all need to be able to count on one another during that first stage of recovery.
Where to Look for a Great Sober Living Facility?
In cities you have more of a variety of population than in the smaller rural communities. It is not a surprise that the strongest recovery communities are often found in large cities. According to TheFix.com Boston tops the list at one of the best places to live if you are new to the recovery scene, but other common places such as Delray Beach in South Florida, Los Angeles, and New York City also have strong roots in recovery and offer more than the average city when it comes to meeting locations, and other sober scenes.
An Example of “Sober Scenes” can be seen in South Florida where there are plazas put together with their entire goal being recovery. The entire plaza’s focus is recovery from drugs and alcohol. The gym in that plaza will be an all-sober gym, the bookstore in that plaza will have many aa or na traditional books, and the cafes are all filled with clientele who is also in recovery.
Best Sober Living Homes
The best types of sober living homes will offer many other amenities to go along with the added accountability they provide. When it comes down to choosing the most appropriate home for yourself or a loved one, it is important to take into consideration the other amenities you would want to have in a halfway house:
- Access to fitness activities (gym equipment in houses)
- Pool and/or hottub
- Televisions with cable options and internet
- Access to internet
- Close proximity to local grocers, gym, and other daily destinations
- Relationships with local addiction treatment centers
When touring sober living facilities, it should be treated the same way as an apartment hunt. No one should be moving into any homes that they haven’t physically toured themselves. Sometimes the tour will allow questions that you didn’t even know you had once you see the actually facility you will be living in.
The overall goal should be to find comfortable and safe housing, where the individual can focus on setting goals for their new life in recovery. Early recovery is such a fragile time that the decision of choosing a sober home to live in is as big as a decision to stay sober and clean.