Sober Living

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Call our local number 01603 513 091
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Sober Living 

Sober living houses (SLH), are referred to as sober living homes, sober living environments, or transitional living arrangements. They provide structured living conditions to people who have completed addiction treatment. Sober living houses may also be called halfway houses or transitional living. 

Those who are new to recovery, but are willing to stay sober and follow the house rules, are also welcomed at sober living houses. 

Sober living homes provide special living situations and a supportive environment for those seeking long-term recovery. 

The recovering addicts learn skills, and develop structure and routine, conducive to long-term recovery. 

People in early recovery from alcohol and drug misuse are advised to enter a sober living home, to reduce risk of relapse, and prevent regressing into old habits. 

What Are Sober Living Homes? 

Sober living homes act as a bridge, or transition stage, between inpatient treatment options and the real world. Most of these facilities are privately owned, and some are owned by charities or third sector organisations.

Sober houses aim to provide a structured, alcohol and drug-free environment for those in recovery. At a sober house, clients participate in regular therapy, exercise, and community activities. 

Who Benefits From Sober Living Houses? 

Sober homes are less intense than residential treatment facilities, and the environment and level of supervision suits those who have recently completed substance abuse treatment.

These facilities are less restrictive, and do not emphasise drug or alcohol abuse treatment. 

Therefore, addicts seeking admission to sober living homes must undergo formal treatment before entering the sober living home. 

People who have completed residential rehabilitation may find it difficult to resume a normal life, and may benefit from the extra support provided by a sober living home. 

Those who have completed other forms of substance abuse treatment such as detox or outpatient treatment, can also benefit from entering a sober living house. 

A study by Amy Mericle, Valerie Slaymaker, Kate Gliske, and others that appears in the Journal of substance abuse treatment (j-subst-abuse-treat) shows that people who opted for sober homes during outpatient programmes stayed longer in treatment. [1]

In the end, these individuals had a higher satisfactory discharge, compared to those who did not seek sober living. 

The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reports that the criminal justice system referred 23% of sober living residents, 23% were referred to by family and friends, 20% self-referral, and 13% by inpatient/residential facilities [2]. 

Benefits Of Addiction Treatment Before Sober Living 

Addiction treatment may help overcome physical and psychological dependence on substances. Treatment centres provide a bespoke treatment programme consisting of detoxification and rehabilitation. 

Substance abuse treatment at a residential rehab centre provides the medical stability and skills needed to stay sober. Sober living facilities are not qualified to provide formal treatment services such as detoxification.

What they do is offer support to those struggling with alcohol or drug use. 

In an article by the Journal of psychoactive drugs (J-psychoactive-drugs), researchers Amy Mericle, Elizabeth Mahoney, Rachael Korcha R. Bond J., and others, showed that sober living house residents who were sober for 30 days before entry, experienced improved outcomes [3].  

The study was a 6 and 12-month follow-up of 330 newly admitted residents from 49 sober living houses. 

The research showed that sober living houses affiliated with a treatment programme had positive outcomes for their residents, e.g. improved employment outcomes, lower relapse rates, and reduced criminal justice cases. 

Attending Treatment Centres 

As a CQC registered addiction treatment centre, Abbeycare provide extensive treatment options. 

We work with each client to develop a treatment programme customised to individual needs. 

We offer extensive treatment programmes and can refer to dual diagnosis care as needed. Dual diagnosis is essential for those struggling with advanced psychiatric symptoms co-occurring with substance use.  

The holistic therapies and other therapeutic options provided can help establish a strong foundation for developing a sober lifestyle. 

Addiction is a progressive condition. Its effects on the brain make it difficult to overcome substance use disorders without assistance. 

To remain abstinent over time, it would be best to complete a treatment programme prior to entering a sober living home. 

You can reach out to Abbeycare to learn more about our treatment options. 

Before Calling Our Helpline 

Those interested in beginning their journey towards sober living by attending our centres can reach out to us through our helpline. 

Our addiction specialist will require the following information: 

  • The severity of the substance abuse. 
  • Types of substances being abused. 
  • Duration of substance abuse. 
  • Any pre-existing medical concerns, e.g., diabetes, pregnancy, cardiovascular conditions. 
  • Presence of any co-occurring mental health conditions. 
  • Travel arrangements - how do you or your loved one plan to reach the facility? 

Any information provided to us is confidential. This information is helps us identify a treatment programme suitable for you. 

Addictions Treated In Sober Living Houses

Those with addictive disorders are strongly encouraged to admit to a sober living home. These special living situations help anyone struggling with addictions by providing support and a safe environment. 

Addiction research shows that sober housing programmes are an underutilised method of substance abuse rehab [4,5,6]. 

What To Expect In A Sober Living Home? 

Sober living homes provide a sober environment where residents learn accountability and routine. Everyday life during sober living is structured, with residents engaging in therapies and peer group meetings. 

These activities help those in recovery develop coping mechanisms that will help them overcome triggers. 

Sober living homes are less restrictive than inpatient rehab. Residents in sober living homes can come and go as they please.

There are house rules that residents are expected to follow, e.g. adhere to curfews and attending house meetings. 

Those in sobriety experience what it's like to follow a routine and develop self-reliance. They take part in paying rent, carry out house chores, and practice structured dietary and sleeping routines.

Active participation at the house also helps them learn how to live cooperatively with others. 

Most people struggling with addiction have a lifestyle that lacks routine and structure. Those with long-term substance dependence may lack essential life skills. That's why participating in a sober living home helps residents gain extra resilience. 

Most sober living homes have the 12-steps fellowship programme. This programme helps residents develop accountability, structure, and sober fellowship with strongly encouraged attendance at local mutual aid meetings.

Residents forge healthy relationships that motivate them towards abstaining from drugs and alcohol. 

The freedom and structure provided in sober living help prepare the residents for the real world. 

Drug Free-Living Environments 

Recovery houses offer recovering alcohol and drug users an environment free from substances. Residents experience everyday life free from substances before venturing into the real world.

Most sober homes cater to one gender. Those that cater to young people are sometimes known as sober colleges. 

Some recovery houses may provide on-site medical care or other intensive outpatient services, although this is less common.

Some facilities are staffed with professionals including psychiatric nurses, clinical social workers, therapists, and other addiction experts. Facilities who do not directly offer these service may provide onward referral to these professionals and others.

Support For Loved Ones 

Sober living homes may offer family or relational trauma resolution. This service creates a conducive environment for the recovering individual. Family members get to learn about triggers and how to help their loved ones. 

Random Drug & Alcohol Testing 

It's paramount that those in SLHs stay clean and sober. SLHs conduct periodic and random drug tests. Those who fail the drug tests are likely to face punishment, e.g. discharge from the house. This is to maintain a safe and supportive environment for all residents.

Not Attending A SLH 

People who don't go for the sober living option may be more likely to self-isolate once they leave treatment. A sense of shame, isolation, or boredom can lead to relapse. 

People in recovery may withdraw from those they've hurt. Some may isolate themselves in fear of the potential triggers in the outside world. 

There is no correct procedure for self-isolation. Isolation can exacerbate mental health conditions, e.g., depression or anxiety. 

Those in recovery need to engage in a supportive community. SLH's provide a safe, non-judgemental environment where members hold each other accountable to maintain abstinence.

Similarly, support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous provide peer support and 12-steps fellowship. 

Due to covid-19, self-isolation has become a new normal. Those in recovery can still access support through virtual meetings held by Alcoholics Anonymous. 

Requirements For Attending Sober Living Homes 

SLHs have several requirements that residents must follow. These requirements aim to make the facility safe and healthy for everyone. Some of these requirements include: 

1. No drugs, alcohol, violence, or overnight guests 

This requirement aims to make SLHs a clean and safe place for recovery. 

Since this living arrangement aims to help residents maintain abstinence, the residents are not allowed to bring in alcohol, drugs, or drug-related paraphernalia. Violence and overnight guests are also prohibited. 

2. Active participation in recovery & house meetings 

Residents are required to participate in recovery and house meetings. These meetings help individuals learn to relate, and learn from each other. Group therapy is a vital part of addiction treatment. 

Each individual shows the necessary commitment to maintaining long-term sobriety by actively participating in these meetings. 

3. Random drug & alcohol tests 

Extended care treatment facilities do conduct randomised drug and alcohol tests. This is done to encourage the residents to maintain abstinence. A clean drug test is a measure of success considering all that the recovering individuals have gone through. 

One individual using alcohol or drugs in a sober house, puts all the residents at risk.

4. Participate in work, school, or outpatient programme 

One key benefit of sober living homes is that they help individuals integrate into a more structured daily pattern. Even after completing detox or inpatient treatment, recovering individuals may still struggle in taking the necessary steps towards getting employment or education.

SLHs may provide education and vocational guidance. Those in early recovery may receive career guidance and support, which eradicates the stress and frustration of an uncertain future. 

5. Live in harmony with other peers at the SLH

Sober living homes are places where you share space. Depending on the facility, you may live in private or semi-private accommodation.

The house will include a kitchen, common areas, and laundry area. Such a living arrangement requires you to adapt to living with others. 

SLHs also require you to pay rent and participate in maintaining the house. The emphasis is on peer support which is integral for recovery. 

Sober Living Homes And Long-Term Recovery 

Several studies show that sober living administers long-term strategies for successful recovery [4,5]. The structure and activities that individuals engage in while at the facility help maintain a recovery lifestyle [6]. 

One study showed that 11% of people who completed rehab remained abstinent after six months. 68% of those who proceeded to SLH remained abstinent after six months [4].

Service users get to stay at the facility for as long as they want. This gives them time to gain employment or pursue an education.

The sober resources and support provided make sober living homes a highly effective way to beat addiction. 

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The Difference Between Sober Living House, Halfway House & Other Residential Programmes 

Sober living homes and halfway houses are structured differently. Halfway houses are usually constructed by charity aid and organisations such as YMCA. 

They were initially created to act as the halfway point for those leaving prison. 

Halfway houses provide a hostel-type environment with little support or structure. A halfway house is also known as a 'dry house' in the UK. 

Sober living houses provide extended treatment after rehab or detox. This facility provides extra support and guidance to recovering individuals. They offer more structure than a halfway house.

SLHs contains a dedicated team of professionals who help individuals utilise the available opportunities now that they are sober. 

Halfway Houses Near Me  

A quick search online can help you find a halfway house near you. However, if you are looking for professional advice on the best facility, you can reach out to your GP or an addiction treatment centre. 

Alternatives To AA 

Aside from sober living establishments, support groups such as the Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are essential at providing recovery support. However, AA is not for everyone.

Those looking for an alternative to AA can try out the following communities: 

  • Sober recovery [7] 
  • SMART recovery [8] 
  • LifeRing [9] 
  • Soberistas [10] 
  • r/redditorsinrecovery [11] 

These communities are a great place to find support and assistance for substance use disorder. 

Women's Recovery Houses 

There are recovery houses that cater specifically to women. It is well accepted across the recovery community that addiction affects women differently.

Although alcohol or drug addiction is an equal opportunity disease, women become addicted faster than men [12].  

Women also face unique challenges when it comes to seeking treatment. 

There are treatment centres that provide rehab housing for women. If there is no recovery house for women near you, you can consider travelling outside your location for treatment. 

Looking For The Right Sober Living House 

However, if you enter a rehab centre, you can ask them for a referral to a suitable sober living house. 

It's important to look for an SLH that offers gym facilities, nutritional advice, and regular therapy sessions. Also, you should look for one that's well-staffed and focused on routine. 

Questions To Ask The House Manager In Sober Living Homes 

It's important to ask questions before entering a SLH.

Some of the questions that you can ask include: 

  • Are there gym/exercise facilities available? 
  • What does a typical day look like? 
  • What's the routine for weekends? 
  • What sort of therapy is provided? 
  • Do they provide access to job-seeking or house-seeking resources? 
  • Do people currently residing in the facility follow the rules? 
  • Will you have a primary care provider, or will various people treat you? 

Different Types Of SLH 

What is the cost of a sober living home? 

The cost of Sober Living Homes varies depending on the facility's location and level of support. The recovery houses located in Southeast of the UK cost around £800-£1,000 per week.  

Some facilities cost about the same price as you would pay for a modest flat or home. 

Moving From Treatment To A Sober House

After completing residential detox and rehabilitation, admitting to a sober house can improve likelihoods of ongoing sobriety.

Recovery houses are not for everyone. Most will have to complete addiction treatment before proceeding to a recovery house. 

However, SLHs provide a safe and supportive environment to learn essential skills that boost sobriety. 

You can reach out to us today for professional advice concerning treatment for you or your loved one.

Call us today to begin your journey towards a life-long recovery. We have an addiction expert on call 24 hours a day to answer your questions.  

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

Last Updated: February 10, 2022

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Peter also co-authored the new 6th edition of Drugs In Use by Linda Dodds, writing Chapter 15 on Alcohol Related Liver Disease. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.