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Sober living facilities (recovery homes) are transitional housing resources for those who have completed residential addiction treatment programs but still need ongoing care. These homes address a variety of long-term care needs, including continued assistance with medication-assisted treatment (MAT), an assortment of relapse-prevention services, and helping patients make the necessary lifestyle changes to successfully transition back into their everyday lives and family dynamics. Many sober living facilities offer resources like life skills training, transportation to and from work to help occupants stay employed, and family therapy. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that sober living homes are often a fundamental part of the treatment process and are necessary to give patients the comprehensive transitional care they need.
Advantages of Sober Living Homes
Sober living facilities are often affiliated with quality and reputable treatment centers and operated by specialists in the physical and behavioral pathology of long-term addiction recovery. They can be a vital resource in helping transitioning patients regain their footing in their everyday lives so that they will have the stability to avoid relapse and maintain lasting mental health.
These homes provide a variety of clinical and lifestyle benefits, including, but not limited to:
- Assistance and management of MAT Regimens.
- Safe, structured, and supportive home-like environment.
- regular drug screenings to help patients stay on track.
- Job and life-skills assistance development training (when applicable).
- Transportation to and from meetings.
The National Institutes of Health reports that those addicted to drugs and/or alcohol who cycle right out of treatment into their old lives greatly increase chances of relapse. Sober living homes bridge the gap from residential care facilities to environments that are unstructured while enabling patients to refine coping methods to avoid relapse.
What Are Sober Living Facilities Like?
Patients staying in sober living homes have the benefit of a discreet, safe, and supportive community, provided that they adhere to the rules of the particular facility. While the specifics of these rules can vary, common guidelines will be that patients are always expected to stay sober, maintain curfew, adhere to drug screening protocols, and uphold the other rules of conduct set forth by the administrators of the program. Further restrictions often include those related to cell phone use, curfew, and guests.
Sober living programs can last anywhere from a few weeks to months at a time, depending upon patients’ progression and subsequent care needs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that positive outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length. Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than ninety days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes.
Sober Living Homes Versus Halfway Houses
While many often fail to distinguish between the two, there are several profound differences between sober living homes and halfway houses. A recent study conducted by the Alcohol Research Group Public Health Institute indicated that sober living homes are structured in a way that avoids some of the limitations of halfway houses.
Some of the distinguishing factors include but are not limited to:
- Alcohol- and drug-free living environment
- Mandatory or strongly encouraged attendance at 12-Step meetings
- Required compliance with house rules
- Open-ended tenure based on patients’ progress
While the cost of sober living facilities tends to be higher, the level of care and attention patients receive at a halfway house is far below that of a sober living home. Some halfway houses are run by government agencies and can be crowded and offer little privacy, while sober living homes are structured more like a private residence, affording residents more privacy and comfort. Very often, sober living homes are covered by insurance providers.
Is A Sober Living Home Right for Me?
Each patient must determine whether they feel they’d benefit from a sober living home. These facilities are ideal for patients who need help repairing some of the lifestyle damage that they’ve experienced due to prolonged and untreated drug or alcohol addiction. They are also valuable for those who are afraid to transition back into potentially toxic or dysfunctional home lives. This is a decision patient should make with the guidance of their families and their treatment specialists. Once the decision is made to transition to a sober living facility, it’s important to do the appropriate research and choose the option best suited to a prospective patient’s needs.
Finding the Right Sober Living Facility
The chosen sober living facility should be fully equipped to address unique care and lifestyle needs, whether ongoing withdrawal symptoms, behavioral care requirements or transportation needs on a daily basis. Most of these homes have direct affiliations with residential treatment facilities, many of which are accredited by reputable governing bodies like the Joint Commission: Accreditation, Health Care, Certification (JCAHO). Sober living facilities represent a potentially game-changing resource for those in recovery looking to get their lives back on track after residential treatment. The first step to a better tomorrow, however, is reaching out for help.
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