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What is Living in a Sober Living Home Like?

Sober living homes, sometimes referred to as halfway houses, are an option for people in early recovery to live in a safe drug and alcohol-free atmosphere until they feel strong enough to live on their own or back with friends or family without the temptation to drink or use again.

Some people choose to live in a sober living home because their home environment isn’t a place that is conducive for them to try and get sober, while others choose this option as a way of stepping down to a lower level of care after completing a drug and alcohol treatment program.

Some people in early recovery also choose to enroll in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) or an Outpatient Program (OP) to have a healthy balance between continuing to get well and beginning to live a “normal” life again. This allows them to go to work and be a productive member of society, while still having a group and therapist to talk about how the transition is going and any troubles you may be having.   

What Are Some of the Common Rules at a Sober Living Home?

Halfway houses provide structure and accountability for people who are genuinely trying to stay clean and sober. (Basically, don’t take a bed away from someone who really needs and wants it if you know you’re not ready.) The rules and rent situations vary at each sober living house, but there are a few staples that remain consistent from home-to-home. Some examples of house rules include:

  • Zero tolerance policy on drinking alcohol and/or using drugs.
    • Random urinalysis (UA) and blood alcohol testing or breathalyzing can be done a specified number of times per week or month, or a UA and a breathalyzer can be administered if the client is acting suspicious, has been breaking rules, or really for any reason at all — so no one can try and beat the system.
  • Curfews.
    • Curfews are a rule that many residents strongly dislike, but are in place for everyone’s safety and simultaneously teaches accountability. Especially as a new resident, curfews can be quite early. As clients make progress and trust is earned, curfews can be extended. It is also esteem-building to be given additional privileges due to good behavior and “doing the next right thing”.  Alternatively, curfews can be set back due to not following the rules, being late multiple times, or acting out. Of course, curfews can always be adjusted based on work schedules — but be prepared to give a copy of your work schedule (and don’t lie, take my word for it) to your house manager or whoever is in charge.
  • Mandatory Support Groups:
    • It is typical for a halfway house to require residents to attend mandatory meetings. Most clients choose twelve-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, while others choose alternative support groups like SMART Recovery or Celebrate Recovery. Generally, as a rule, clients must get meeting sheets signed by a chairperson or facilitator of the group to prove attendance. Don’t think of it a punishment, but rather a gift. If you didn’t have to get a meeting sheet signed, it would be harder to work up the motivation to get up and go. Personally, I’ve never left a meeting saying, “I really wish I didn’t go to that”, so even if it takes you a while to figure out what works best for you, you’re still taking in new experiences and pushing yourself to do things that you wouldn’t have done before.
  • Getting a Job.
    • Most sober living homes give clients a set amount of time to find employment. Not only is this necessary for paying rent, but maintaining a job and earning an income builds self-esteem and confidence. Some halfway homes even set certain times of the day when you are not allowed to be on property so you can be out looking for a job. Independence is one of the biggest self-worth boosters out there.

If you’re thinking about a sober living home or a halfway house for yourself or exploring this option for a loved one, call Principles Recovery Center at any time of any day at 1-866-692-0909 for more information on how it works.

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