Sober livings can help people stay sober during outpatient treatment, as they transition to life outside of rehab, and also as a first-line approach to addiction recovery. This incredible resource offers individuals in recovery a safe environment, a strong peer support system, and a variety of resources. All of these, in particular peer support and structure, offer protection against relapse. By making use of a sober living house, a person can increase their likelihood of staying sober and more effectively rebuild their lives.
If you are finishing rehab, sober living homes can help smooth the transition back into the outside world. For many people, making this jump into the outside world too abruptly can be dangerous and jarring. After living in the safe, structured, and supportive environment of a rehab, returning to the messiness of your old life can be truly overwhelming. For this reason, it is helpful to reside in a sober living home first. Sober livings are excellent aftercare resources that offer a great deal of structure so that residents can slowly repair their lives, develop life skills, and become more autonomous and independent.
Sober living rules, structure, and regulations make it possible for residents to have access to a clean and safe space where they can adjust to life in sobriety. It is important to recognize that these rules and regulations are not designed as a punishment for residents — but as a means for them to thrive and succeed in sobriety. The rules are not designed to limit the freedom of residents, but to empower them.
Without a strong structure and regulated living environment, many people find it difficult to stay sober, even after doing quite well in rehab. In fact, most people who relapse do so in their first year outside of treatment. Having strong support and a structured life are both critical ingredients for long-term sobriety. Understanding why sober livings often have certain rules can help you remain committed to your newfound recovery path in your sober living house.
Below are some of the most common sober living house rules, as well as some brief explanations for why these rules exist.
Remaining Clean and Sober
The most important rule that sober livings enforce is the rule that defines sober livings in the first place: residents must remain drug and alcohol-free. When a person enrolls in a sober living house and moves in, they will agree to follow this rule during their entire residency. This prohibition against drug and alcohol use also means that recreational drugs and alcohol are not allowed on-site in or even near the house.
In most cases, sober living staff members administer drug screenings regularly. Some sober livings conduct drug tests on a predictable schedule, such as weekly. They may also have sudden unannounced drug tests, especially when staff members or sober living house managers suspect that a resident may have relapsed.
Sober livings ban drugs and alcohol to ensure a safe, supportive, and trigger-free environment. During early sobriety, young people are highly vulnerable to triggers. Triggers can include any person, place, or event that reminds someone of their past substance abuse — but the most powerful triggers come in the form of direct exposure to substance abuse. By preventing residents from abusing drugs or alcohol in a sober living, the risk of relapse is significantly reduced.
Taking Care of the House
Sober living homes are often luxurious, comfortable homes. Residents may have access to many amenities, including top-of-the-line kitchens, fitness equipment, and backyard barbeques. This doesn’t mean that life in a sober living is just a vacation, though. In fact, residents are expected to perform upkeep on their homes. It is their responsibility to keep their living environment clean, presentable, and in good shape.
To that end, many sober livings assign a range of chores and house duties to residents. These duties can include weekly tasks as well as daily ones. In most cases, the tasks required to maintain the cleanliness of the house are not highly demanding — especially since the entire house works together to perform these tasks. But they are essential. After all, with a house full of young men, it is inevitable that rooms will get dirty and appliances will break down from time to time.
Examples of these duties include:
- Making the bed in the morning
- Sweeping the floors
- Mopping the floors
- Cleaning the stove
- Making sure all dishes are washed immediately after cooking
- Not leaving dirty laundry on the floor
- Taking out the trash
Being responsible for the upkeep of a home helps sober living residents learn personal accountability. These tasks might sound annoying at first, but most housemates eventually learn to take pride in maintaining their own living environments. After years of active addiction, many young men get used to living in messy, unorganized, or even unsanitary spaces. The joy of living in a clean, healthy, and guest-friendly environment is unparalleled, and the ability to create such an environment is one of the gifts of sobriety.
Attend Support Groups
Sober living houses are not clinical addiction treatment programs. Nonetheless, they do encourage residents to take an active role in their recovery. Sober living staff members expect residents to take steps daily and work hard to maintain their sobriety. Ultimately, sober livings aim to prepare residents for the long haul by helping them develop aftercare plans. Most aftercare plans involve a combination of multiple resources, ranging from coping skills and peer support systems. Support groups are one of the best ways of developing recovery skills and benefiting from mentorship in sobriety.
The vast majority of sober livings are at least somewhat informed by the philosophy of 12-step programs. While they are not officially linked to 12-step programs, it is common for sober living houses to require residents to attend 12-step meetings daily. These can include 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Sober livings will generally provide transportation to these meetings. In some cases, secular meetings that are not 12-step-based will be offered as alternatives.
Attend House Meetings
Sober livings are not just homes where roommates sleep and eat. They are communities that work together for a common purpose. As such, it is of the utmost importance that they communicate clearly, resolve conflicts, and address any issues that may be pressing. Most sober living houses hold regular house meetings, often on a weekly basis. These meetings are opportunities for sober living house managers to go over important news and announcements. They also allow the house members to build a greater sense of unity. Attending these house meetings is a requirement for continued residency at most sober livings.
Certain sober livings prohibit certain items and activities. They do so not simply because they like restricting personal liberties, but because these items carry a risk of triggering a relapse. In many cases, these prohibitions vary for individual house members. A person who has just gotten sober and only recently moved in will likely face different restrictions than someone who has been living there clean and sober for a month. Sober livings are all different when it comes to prohibited items. Some examples include:
- Cell phones
- Pornographic material
- Clothing that promotes alcohol or drug use
- Drug paraphernalia
- A car (for new housemates)
Certain items will always be prohibited inside of a sober living facility. These obviously prohibited items include drug paraphernalia and weapons. However, certain sober livings allow long-term residents certain privileges. For example, someone who has been sober for several months may be entrusted with cell phone privileges and car access. This not only allows them to begin taking steps toward independent and autonomous living, but it also allows them to be over of service to newer house members.
Recover Today at Design for Recovery
Design for Recovery, a recovery home located in West Los Angeles, is the city’s foremost structured sober living house for men. Our properties offer young men with drug and alcohol use disorders a safe, supportive, and trigger-free environment where they can focus entirely on recovery. We support residents as they begin to address underlying issues, build new relationships, and develop new skillsets. As individuals progress through early sobriety, challenges are inevitable. But at Design for Recovery, young men have the opportunity to face them together.
We believe that recovering from drug and alcohol addiction means more than just putting down recreational substances and alcohol. We are committed to helping residents build new futures for themselves as well. This means housemates at Design for Recovery aim to build a strong foundation of sober values. We encourage residents at Design for Recovery to live by strong principles, including responsibility, accountability, integrity, and rigorous honesty. While living at Design for Recovery, young men not only get sober but also strive to become the best possible versions of themselves.