Getting on the Road to Living Clean and Sober in a Sober Home
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People recovering from drug and alcohol addictions face a difficult set of challenges with each stage of the recovery process. As addicts progress through recovery, drug treatment environments tend to become less and less structured along the way.
This loss of structure poses a considerable risk of relapse for those who aren’t quite ready for life in the “real world.” After all, living clean and sober inside a highly structured treatment environment maybe uncomfortable, but nonetheless quite doable.
According to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, sober home programs offer a much needed bridge between drug treatment and returning home to everyday life. Within a sober home program, residents gain real-life experience on living clean and sober, while benefiting from the built-in support structure that these programs provide.
Living clean and sober in a sober home program enables residents to apply the skills and tools obtained in drug treatment outside the protections of a drug treatment program. In effect, this “real world” experience best prepares a person for dealing with the day-to-day stressors and pressures of everyday life while providing needed emotional and social supports along the way.
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Sober Home Programs
As far back as the 1830s, sober home programs played an important role in helping people with substance abuse issues regain control of their lives. Back then, sober homes –commonly known as “lodging houses” and “dry hotels”- developed out of the Temperance Movement where devout individuals and organizations created makeshift treatment environments for those wanting help.
Likewise, today, sober homes act as transition environments where those in recovery can develop the skills needed for living clean and sober in everyday life. Much like their predecessors, these programs provide no formal treatment services, though most require residents to attend 12 Step support group meetings on a regular basis. Ultimately, residents learn what it takes to maintain abstinence in the “real world” by living clean and sober in a sober home.
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Who Can Most Benefit from a Sober Living Home?
Regardless of the type of drug used, long-term drug (or alcohol) abuse wears away at the brain’s ability to function normally in all respects. Chronic drug abuse compromises a person’s moral compass in terms of decision-making abilities and overall judgment. Drugs also warp the brain’s reward system, a region that defines a person’s priorities and motivations and ultimately dictates the type of lifestyle he or she lives.
Those who most benefit from living clean and sober in a sober home include:
- People with long drug abuse histories
- People who’ve been through multiple rounds of drug treatment with little to no progress to show for it
- People who’ve completed drug treatment and still feel uneasy about going out on their own
- People who struggle with mental health issues as well as addiction problems
Ideally, the best time to enter a sober home program is after completing drug treatment. In this way, a sober home can pick up where drug treatment leaves off in terms of living clean and sober within a less structured and/or confined treatment setting.
The Living Clean and Sober Mindset
Much like addiction breeds its own mindset and lifestyle, living clean and sober requires a person to develop the type of mindset that makes this type of lifestyle possible. As most addicts well know, the addiction lifestyle is wrought with instability, chaos and emotional turmoil. This lifestyle reflects the state of mind of the addict.
Living clean and sober entails developing a stable, productive lifestyle that supports ongoing balance, both emotionally and psychologically. Sober home programs work to help residents develop a living clean and sober mindset, which takes shape as they take on the daily habits and routines that support this type of lifestyle. Since this process takes place within a semi-independent living environment, recovering addicts gain real world training that’s otherwise unavailable through a residential treatment program.
The Support Network
People entering sober homes soon learn that living clean and sober entails a day-by-day approach wherein individual decisions made become the determining factors that support drug-free living. Sometimes a person can make the right decision; other times he or she has to reach out to others for guidance and support.
More than anything else, sober homes encourage residents to support one another and reach out to one another when times get tough. This premise draws from the 12 Step model, which promotes honesty and integrity throughout the recovery process.
When implemented, these principles make it that much easier for those in recovery to be honest with themselves and others. In essence, honesty and integrity make living clean and sober possible.
Following House Rules
Sober home programs require residents to follow a set of house rules as a condition of their stay. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, the sober home rules requirement was first instituted in 1986 as a standard guideline derived from the Clean and Sober Transitional Living Model.
This requirement creates a sense of structure in the home, the same sense of structure that recovering addicts will have to implement in their own lives once they complete the program. Ultimately, living clean and sober requires a structured lifestyle, of which rules play an important part.
Sober home rules typically take the form of:
- Nightly curfews
- Residents must pay rent and boarding fees
- Getting a sponsor
- No alcohol or drugs permitted on the premises
- No alcohol or drug use allowed
- Residents must attend house meetings
- Household chore assignments
- Sleeping at the home a minimum number of nights per week
- Reporting on one’s whereabouts when away from the home
Whereas residential programs operate within highly structured treatment settings, sober homes place the responsibility of creating structure on the residents by requiring them to take on the daily responsibilities of the home. Once residents are ready to leave the program, they will have developed the habits needed for living clean and sober on their own.
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Going from the protective environment of a drug treatment program to a recovery-focused, semi-independent living environment allows recovering addicts to transition into the “real world” with much needed supports in place. As most people stay in sober homes for a minimum of three to six months, the day-in, day-out routine of living clean and sober becomes a lifestyle in and of itself. In turn, this end result helps to foster a smooth transition back into the “real world.”