Choosing a Sober Living Home
Starting on the path of early recovery can be an exciting, but sometimes an overwhelming experience. Figuring out where to go after receiving inpatient drug and alcohol treatment can be a difficult decision to make. You might be contemplating whether you should go home or stay in the community in which you received treatment. If returning to your previous home is not a safe choice or in your best interest, you may want to consider choosing a sober living home.
The term sober living home is often used interchangeably with the terms recovery residences, halfway houses and sober homes. The purpose of these homes is to provide a safe and healthy environment in which residents can sustain their recovery. However, you should be aware that not all sober living homes are created equal. Choosing the wrong sober living home can put your recovery in jeopardy. Here are four factors that you should consider before picking a sober living home:
1. House Rules
When you begin the recovery process, it’s important that you start developing a healthy routine. Many sober living homes realize the importance of structure in early recovery, and they require their residents to follow specific house rules. They typically have rules regarding drug and alcohol possession, drug testing, violence and curfews. It is not uncommon for these homes to require residents to either receive intensive outpatient treatment, obtain employment, volunteer or attend school.
If the sober living home has few or no rules, this should be a warning sign.
Currently, there is no federal law that requires sober living homes to be licensed. Many states and cities do require that these buildings to follow local regulations. Before choosing a sober living home, check to make sure it is compliant with local regulations.
There is also a number of organizations that represent sober living homes; these organizations provide best practices and standards in regards to operating a residence.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask the staff members at your rehab center for a recommendation on a sober living home. Some treatment facilities have designated employees that help patients find a safe place to live after inpatient treatment.
Now, if you are unable to ask an employee for a recommendation, talk to your sponsor or member of your home group. The people at your 12-step meetings will be able to tell you which sober living homes have a good reputation and which ones don’t.
Before you agree to move into a sober living home, find out who manages the home. If the individual is in recovery, find out how long they have been in recovery. It should immediately raise a red flag if the manager has been in recovery for less than six months. Typically, reputable sober living homes only hire managers that have been clean for a minimum of six months, while some sober living homes prefer that the mangers have one year clean.
You should also inquire whether the sober living home has medical staff on the premises. If not, ask if they have protocols for medical emergencies.
When you research sober living homes, you should ask the manager about transportation. Oftentimes, when people leave treatment they don’t have reliable transportation. If you don’t have a car, ask the sober living home if they provide transportation. Some sober living homes provide residents transportation to approved 12-step meetings and the grocery store. If transportation is not provided, consider whether you can easily get to meetings and work by bus, bike or on foot. While transportation is not a factor in whether or not a sober living home is reputable, you should consider this because it does play a part in your day-to-day routine.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Studies have shown that having sober supports can decrease an individual’s chances of relapsing. However, living in a bad environment can cause an obstacle in your recovery and prevent you from reaching your goals. Before you pack your bags and move into a sober living home, make sure to consider these four factors.