Finding a Sober Living Environment as Part of your Recovery Program

by Trever Roberts

Founder and Owner of Living Clean Recovery Home

An addiction treatment program is a powerful place for someone to set themselves apart from society, triggers, and responsibilities of mainstream life. It’s a time to reflect and redefine who you are as a person.

They say, “The best part of a recovery treatment program is that you get your feelings back, and the worst part of a treatment program is that you get your feelings back.”

 But what about after someone has successfully completed their addiction treatment program? Where do they go? Do they return back to the same place they left? For some people, the place they left consists of broken homes, and for others, there is literally nowhere for them to go besides back out to the streets. The transition from a recovery treatment program to a safe, sober living environment is commonly the most difficult part of the recovery process.

Within this article focused on the aspects and importance of a sober living environment I would like to share:

What is a Sober Living Environment?

Sober living houses are living environments for those who want to maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs (1). Most people have an idea of what a sober living environment (SLE) consists of, or they know of someone going to a nearby sober living home, or perhaps they have heard of the doom and gloom stories on the news about unregulated sober living operations. When asked, most people may state a sober living is the equivalent of a halfway house, where people go and live when out of treatment or institutions. However, sober living homes are much more than just a place to live…

Why are sober living homes successful?

A sober living environment is a culture in itself. A sober living house is a home for people who are transitioning into their long-term recovery life. In a properly regulated sober living program, there is structure, accountability, and arguably the most important aspect is the connections that are made with like-minded people pursuing their own addiction recovery. These forms of connections and structure are aspects that most people have not had as a part of their life in a long time. For many people, a sober living is safe place to call home.

Benefits of a Sober Living Environment

Let us consider an individual whom as successfully completed an addiction treatment program; they now have ninety days clean, they have been going to substance abuse groups all day as well as consistently meeting with their therapist every week, all while being drug tested daily. They have a completion ceremony at their recovery treatment program and then they are sent out into the world to continue on with their life. This abrupt transition from a structured and safe environment to being completely in control of their environment and choices again can be a huge shock for most people. The various obligations of returning to work, looking for work, finding a place to live, trying to meet new people in recovery, practicing coping skills and tools learned during their addiction treatment is a true challenge.

The good news is that this is what a properly run sober living environment is made to help with. The recently recovered individual is able to face life’s challenges with the support of their sober living home’s staff and resident’s supportive community culture. The sober living home becomes a platform providing the tools, sober resources, and mentorships allowing the recently recovered individual to realize their capabilities to successfully launch back into society after their recovery treatment program, and yet the recently recovered individual still has the necessary aspects of accountability and connections from their peer support.

Benefits of Sober Living Culture

Some people learn by being taught in a discussion, while others have to be shown specifically how to do accomplish a task or goal; this is a key principle in SLE. Residents in a regulated sober living environment are shown how to live life with support and go on to give that support to others. Addiction can be a lifestyle, a repetitive action, and we find similar healthy patterns in an individual’s successful recovery. Sober living environments become a place where residents are taught and shown how to stay sober through life’s many challenges. Individuals are uplifted as they build self-efficacy as they take ownership of their recovery and their lives, for some, the very first time.

Mentorship Benefits in Sober Living Environments

Another benefit of sober living homes is that there are people living alongside one another with perspectives from all different stages of recovery and growth. This is another key principle and benefit provided by sober living environments. Individuals who are considered “elders” or “senior sober living residents” become healers of their own amongst their housemates. Senior residents share their stories about what has worked for them, modeling a healthy lifestyle for the new residents that come into the sober living home. This dynamic creates an important mentorship aspect to SLE.  Watching senior residence uplift, encourage, and mentor newer people that have come into the home by planting seeds of hope by simply telling their own recovery story and how they successful reached where they currently are in their recovery. Not only does this help the newly recovered individual who has just recently left their addiction treatment program, but this also serves to keep the senior sober living residents sober by building their self-efficacy, showing them they have something to offer the newcomer – as well as the other people they encounter. Residents living in a sober living give back to one another, and this type of sober living culture repeats itself. Senior residents of sober livings lead the way by showing the newer residents what life is about and how to cope in a new recovery-based life. With the many benefits that sober living environments provide, our society has seen sober living homes proven themselves to be successful over and over again.

Hidden Benefits of Sober Living Homes

The connections that individuals create amongst each other within sober living homes is life-long. I’ve seen homes take on the atmosphere of a family home, where older individuals take on the responsibility of elder(wisdom) while the younger generations follow suit. It’s incredible how people from different demographics, races, and beliefs, have bonded inside sober living homes. These relationships have the potential to heal the recovered individuals and their past.

An older gentleman moved into a sober living environment a few years back. He had lost all three of his kids to child protective services due to his addiction and lifestyle. He sadly would never see them again. I watched this man riddled with guilt and shame from this go in and out of treatment programs. He was older and knew that he should try something different after addiction treatment, so he decided to move into a sober living environment. Without even knowing it he took on the role of being a father figure in the house. He would share his wisdom with the younger residents, his life experiences that only someone of his age would have. He grew close to these young men. Coached them in interviews, taught them how to tie a tie and iron their dress clothes. He would even play catch with a few of the residents. The old man said one day

“I may have lost my sons, but at least I get to make right for these kids, and I’m proud of them”.

This is the type of behavior constantly seen in properly managed sober living environments. The type of behavior sober living homes foster and our communities need. Healing at its finest. The magic in this brief story is one of those kids he coached, mentored, and taught, stated

“My father was never around and (the senior resident) made up for that during that year I was at sober living, now I can teach my son these things.”

and for this type of example, which I am fortunate to experience almost every day, I am forever grateful. Thanks for reading.

Recovery Santa Barbara's Sober Living Home

Recovery Santa Barbara a local and community affiliated co-ed sober living facility. Recovery Santa Barbara holds ideals of utilizing spirituality, promoting each resident’s individual strengths, and a community bonding experience to teach clients how to “live sober” versus simply living in a sober living. Recovery Santa Barbara’s sober living home is located in the desired Downtown Neighborhood of Santa Barbara. It is an all-inclusive sober living environment which offers an on-site manager, weekly drug testing, fitness & health opportunities, supplied staples food and nutrition guidance, and community supports. Recovery Santa Barbara is located in an amazingly convenient location by the contracted luxury gymnasium, SBCC, public transportation, public markets, State Street, shopping, parks, and more.
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