Sober Living Houses: The Past and the Present

If you are seeking treatment or have completed treatment, you may not be in a position to move back into the situation you were in before you began your recovery from addiction, and you aren’t the only one.

In the 1960s and 70s, addiction specialists began recognizing the role that environment had on instances of relapse. People who went back to the same stressors and dysfunction were more likely to slip back into substance use, and that isn’t a surprise.

It doesn’t seem possible to return to a living situation where other people currently use drugs or previously used drugs with you. It isn’t fair to have to live with a family whose mistreatment triggers your desire to use drugs as a means of escape.

How can a person trust themselves in utter isolation to remain sober? All of these situations produce a desire to use. But, a sober living house (SLH) allows someone to both connect with others and to do so in a drug and alcohol-free setting.

Sober living homes serve people who are completing inpatient treatment, people currently attending outpatient treatment, people leaving prison, and people who are looking for an alternative to formal treatment.

It is interesting to discover that the presence of sober living housing extends back over a century and in that time, the model has been perfected. If you are considering residence in sober housing, you should know that they have a long, strong history and they are proven to increase the chances of residents abstaining from their drug of choice. For more information, please contact at 800-953-3913 (Who Answers?), and connect with resources and housing situations.

What Is a Sober Living House?

Sober Living Houses

Sober living houses provide access to activities that build life skills.

On their most basic level, all sober living houses are just drug and alcohol-free living spaces for people attempting to abstain from drug and alcohol use. That’s it. They aren’t like residential rehab because they don’t provide formal treatment. Instead, they either order residents to attend a 12 step program or strongly urge it.

Often, sober living houses are thought of as halfway houses, but the two are different. SLHs receive all of their funding from resident rents and fees, which most halfway houses are not. Also, residents in SLHs can stay as long as they would like to, provided they are following the rules of the house.

Although the sober living houses are not monitored by a state agency (because they do not provide formal treatment), many of them to belong to SLH coalitions or association that keep an eye on safety, health, and quality. If you find a sober living house that you like, research whether or not it is connected to an association or coalition.

What Is the History of Sober Living Houses?

The National Library of Medicine establishes the start of SLHs in the 1830s, when they were run by religious agencies, like the YMCA and Salvation Army. They were part of the temperance movement (a social movement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages) and people called them dry hotels or lodging houses. At this point in their history the SLHs did not allow the residents any input and they were often forced to attend religious services.

In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous was founded and the groups created its own 12 step houses in order to provide drug and alcohol free housing.

The need for these living situations increased in the 1970s and it continues today. However, housing prices in the 70s closed a lot of rooming houses and single room occupancy hotels that were being used for sober living, which meant there weren’t enough SLHs at the time.

What is a Sober Living House?

Contemporary Sober Living Housing

Because of the decline of SLH in the 1970s, Oxford Houses were established. When halfway houses closed, some residents took up the responsibilities of rent and leadership and formed their own communal sober living houses. That model is still active. They also strongly encourage 12 step attendance and roughly 76 percent of Oxford House residents go to at least one meeting a week.

In contrast, a strong manager model is also common. However, these situations fail to make use of peer support and empowerment, which decrease the chance of relapse.

If you are interested in becoming a resident in a sober living house and taking advantage of their long history of success, call at 800-953-3913 (Who Answers?) and get the process going today.

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Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: ARK Behavioral Health, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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