Is a Sober Living House Right for My Recovery?

Going from addiction treatment to full-on "real life" in sobriety is daunting! Here's a resource that can smooth the transition

April 6, 2023
Diverse young people at a kitchen table in a sober living house

For most people, recovery gets easier over time. But in the beginning, it can look like, well, kind of a big commitment. And it is! For some, there’s inpatient treatment, outpatient groups and therapy, aftercare, ongoing sober support group meetingscounseling and, of course, sustained sobriety. That’s why the old wisdom tells us to take it “one day at a time.”

Sober living arrangements are simply drug-free, recovery-centric residences with mandated abstinence, yet it’s tempting to think of joining one as yet another “commitment.” But they are optional — like all of recovery, ultimately — and many people find them to be tremendously supportive environments for early recovery.

Put simply, sober living houses are great spaces to help you foster a sense of community while staying accountable to your commitment to sobriety.

Sober living housing is also called sober living, sober housing, sober residences or, sometimes, Oxford Houses, and it can serve as a strong base for your transition from addiction treatment to living an active and fulfilling sober life. Understanding the benefits of sober living houses can make it easier to decide if joining one would be an ideal option for you or a loved one.

Sober Living Houses Offer a Built-In Community

A sober living house can provide you with a tight-knit community of like-minded individuals — a make-or-break must-have for many in recovery.

Making friends who are striving for sobriety alongside you makes the whole thing easier and more bearable in the early days, for everyone involved; the opportunity for this bonding is the secret sauce of sober housing. Living among others who are committed to sobriety can provide the boost of reassurance everyone in recovery needs from time to time.

The daily routines at each sober living house can vary, as can the environment. You’ll sleep there, you may eat there and you may start easing into your daily work or school obligations. There’s a wide range of communities to choose from, making it easier for you to find the right fit.

For a sober residence to foster a sense of connection and safety, it is important that you feel comfortable and accommodated. You’re going to be living there, after all. Good sober living houses provide safe zones for their members, honoring and respecting each person’s unique identity and needs.

Sober living houses vary in their levels of recovery care, ranging from those that closely monitor their members to those with a more interdependent atmosphere. You can find an environment that’ll be a fit for you depending on the structure that will best guide and support your sober journey.

Sober Housing Provides Support From Pros and Friends, When You Need It

Sober housing isn’t just a place where you’re not allowed to do something. Sober residences go beyond that, offering direct support to each member. Whatever the best level of treatment and care may be for your circumstances, there are staff members who will be there for you. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed.

Your housemates can also be a source of support and connection as you make your transition into sobriety together. Developing healthy and supportive relationships is going to boost your drive to keep on keepin’ on your path to recovery. Most everyone has at least a few dark nights of the soul in recovery, but not everyone gets to be surrounded by people rooting for them in these moments. In a sober house, you are.

A sober living house also provides the resources and connections needed to continue addiction treatment. The staff generally supervises and maintains a substance-free environment while providing access to useful tools for each person. Some residences host or connect members with 12-step or other support group meetings, some have on-site therapists, and so on.

Sober living houses can make the transition from inpatient treatment to sober life — with all its stressful, “normal” and joyful elements — much smoother. By fostering a healthy and safe space for connection and healing, a sober living house thrives on the spirit of community support.

Sober Living Houses Encourage Accountability

Living in a sober house makes it much easier to be accountable as you resume your everyday life. Because, undoubtedly, it can be challenging after treatment to manage the daily pressures that may have triggered the addictive tendencies you’re working through.

You can learn every coping skill in every book and lean on every resource out there — and living sober after a chapter of addiction might still feel daunting. It did for many of us! A sober living house offers a safe place where you can navigate your thoughts and emotions. You can share what you’re going through and receive valuable feedback and support to prop you up.

Get a Power-Up for Your Mental and Emotional Well-Being

All in all, a positive sober living experience will give you some key benefits …

  • A gentle transition to sober life
  • The chance to foster deep and meaningful connections
  • Access to resources and guidance

So although a sober living situation isn’t a requirement of recovery, it can be very helpful depending on your specific needs.

If you’re weighing the option, it can be useful to consider the perspective of your support system, especially your health care team, as they can offer expert guidance. Depending on what is best for you, you and your provider can determine where you might stay and for how long. Treatment pros can also advise you on nuts and bolts of sober housing like cost and house rules.

Healthy and meaningful connections promote mental health and overall well-being. (This is scientifically well established.) Having balanced and loving relationships with family and friends is important, no doubt. But a sober living environment makes it possible to connect with new people — committed to the same goals as you — in ways that your loved ones may not understand if they haven’t experienced addiction.

Resources, support, accountability, guidance and maybe even making some friends along the way: That’s more or less what’s on offer with sober housing. It may not be for everyone, but anything that can help you stay on the beam in early recovery is worth checking out.

The bridge to sober life is always worth walking, and you don’t have to walk alone.

More Help & Information

Auguste Rodin, The Thinker

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