8 Addiction Experts on Why Transitioning to a Sober Living Home is Beneficial

The benefits of transitioning to a sober living home after going through treatment can be innumerable. But don’t just take it from us… below are 8 addiction experts on the benefits of a sober living home, and why you should choose this steady transition.

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Dr. Holly N. Sawyer, PhD, MS, CAADC
Life First Therapy

Transitioning to a sober living home is beneficial because it can provide on going sober supports for the person in recovery. Often times, persons in recovery are going back to old neighborhoods and/or family/friends where they used. Often times, they do not have sober supports in these old settings.

Although it is known in recovery that one takes themselves wherever they go, being in sober environments can be that much beneficial to helping the person remain in recovery, living a life of abstinence.

The recovery home becomes their sober environment and is often seen as their own recovery community at which many do not have outside of the home. The sober living home can provide structure in ways the person in recovery has never had and if they had, it reintroduces them to a new way of living re-instituting the structure under a recovery lifestyle.

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Magan Newton, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor
Caredfor

I'm an advocate of sober living after treatment. Primary substance use treatment is such a protective environment. Sober living (SL) allows a person to step halfway home but still have a safety net. SL is a safe place to practice new coping skills. To celebrate when they work and to process when they don't. It has built in accountability and structure to help a person begin to develop a sober routine. Most SL's have some type of programming or support staff which often includes ongoing group therapy, job search help, and case management. SL can be a fresh start if a living situation prior to treatment was less than supportive. The benefits far outweigh the costs of going to SL. I have found that people who choose not to go to SL when SL has been recommend often don't get enough "clean time" to feel confident in their recovery, lack adequate sober support, and struggle to implement structure on their own.

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Sal Raichbach, PsyD
Ambrosia Treatment Center

Inpatient addiction treatment helps individuals remove themselves from potential triggers while going through intensive therapy, but the side effect is that some people get too comfortable away from the stress and temptations of daily life. Sober living bridges the gap between inpatient treatment and everyday life, allowing you to build a life without drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Sober living environments also help by allowing individuals to form positive habits and routines that incorporate recovery into their daily life. That might include going to 12-step meetings, keeping your room clean and abiding by a curfew. It’s an ideal blend between treatment and independence that makes the transition out of addiction treatment much smoother.

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Dr. Rupali Chadha MD, Psychiatric Physician 
Rupali Chadha MD

Transition to a sober living home is often key in a patient’s recovery. Acute hospitalization in a psychiatric facility for substance dependence only provides the first break in the strong chain of addiction. Often times depending on the substance or alcohol the patient may even require medication for detoxification. Also at that time comorbid mental illness such as mood and anxiety disorders can be elucidated. We often will start a patient on an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication if indicated. Especially for women, there is often an underlying mental illness when there is substance use. This association is much weaker in men. But it is still possible. I want to be clear. Not all people who have substance dependence disorders have any other of mental illness. But still, it is good to be evaluated by a psychiatric physician in hospital if you are there anyhow for detoxification purposes. Releasing a patient back to the environment where substance use and subsequent addiction developed is self-defeating. This is why is sober living home/facility or even a rehabilitation step down center is an excellent choice. It helps an individual continue to master the skills they need to stay away from substances that have wreaked havoc on their lives.

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Dr. Dara - a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Rapid Resolution Therapist, Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Author
Dr. Dara

The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.  If you were in an addiction, step away, stop using the drug or alcohol, but then only return to the same exact situation with friends, work, jobs, and family, there is a high probability of the same insanity happening again. 

Transitioning to a sober living home gives the opportunity to re-integrate and build upon sobriety without getting submerged to the point of drowning. Treatment is a great time to get clean and sober without the stressors of everyday life.  Sober living provides a starting point to add and build responsibility as well as provide accountability.  

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Kim Rosenthal, M.D. 
Mental Health and You

Hospitals and rehabs focus on substance abuse treatment.  People are usually admitted for detox and stabilization, and the treatment is organized by medical professionals.  Hospitals involve 24 hour supervision, a regimented day with classes, meals, and breaks on a schedule, and lots of restrictions.  Patients can't smoke, have cell phones, nor come or go at will.  The unit is locked.

Once ready, they're discharged to either a rehab or sober living environment.  

A move to rehab means a pinch more freedom than the hospital.  The person is ready for serious recovery work, and it's tough work.  Residential rehabs are beneficial because they adjust according to the person's needs.  Freedom is advanced slowly.

At first the individual is kept busy with classes and can't have contact with the outside world.  Cell phones are prohibited, although smoking is usually okay. People gain independence as they progress through the program. They start handling their own medication.  They're allowed to go outside alone.  The facility helps them find jobs and provides transportation (residents aren't allowed to have their own car).  Eventually freedom is earned to go places on their own, keep some of their own income, and move to a private room.  Rehab can last 3 months to 2 years, at which point a person is ready for a sober living house.  

Sober living homes are group homes for people in recovery from drugs or alcohol.  They're run by the residents themselves.  Everyone is required to attend 12-step meetings, but otherwise treatment isn't the focus anymore.  Here residents keep cars, have their own cell phones, and come and go as they want -- as long as they come back by curfew.  What's the goal?  Or, rather, what's the benefit?  The benefits are enormous: to establish connection, build a support community, stay away from a life of isolation, and learn to socialize without drugs and alcohol.  Here a person learns responsibility: they have to find a job, pay rent, buy food, and arrange their own transportation.  Many addicts and alcoholics haven't been able to hold onto a job for years, never mind keep a budget, and this transition can be both exciting and scary. But it's a healthy one.  They learn accountability. Integrity and honesty are a must.  But more than anything, sober living pulls people out of loneliness. In a world where individuals with addiction are often treated like second-class citizens, where their own families have severed contact, sober living homes offer support and encouragement: here the recovering individual is with people who understand them.

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Sheri Heller, LCSW
Sheritherapist.com

Oxford Houses and Halfway Houses provide newly sober and detoxed folks to sustain abstinence and healing in a protected environment during the most challenging initial months of recovery.

A period of protracted withdrawal can occur for months following detox, causing the recovering addict to be highly vulnerable to relapse. Additionally the absence of coping mechanisms needed to self sooth, and difficulties with identifying feeling states further pre-disposes the addict in early recovery to relapse. Compound this with the strong likelihood of co-current complex trauma issues and sundry other conditions such as mood disorders, makes it clear that the emotional and psychological dysregulation accompanying the initial stages of sobriety and recovery is exceedingly challenging.  

Hence comprehensive supports are critical to assisting the recovering addict with staying the course. The 12-step slogan “People, Places & Things” refers to the necessity of inventing a new life steeped in a culture of recovery so as to ensure mind-body-spirit healing. 

This necessitates living in a home environment in which principles of sobriety and recovery are adhered too. Sober living facilities provide the situational supports conducive to withstanding the difficulties inherent in early recovery, so as to ward off relapse and assist with building the fellowship connections and therapeutic and spiritual tools which will help the recovering addict persevere.

Matt Boyle, Chief Operating Officer Landmark Recovery

The transition to a sober living home can be a difficult decision to make, but for those who are committed to the process of recovery it can be a necessary one. Sobriety is a lifelong struggle and if the proper foundation is not laid, patients can quickly fall back into addiction. Sober living homes can help provide structure and work with residents to expand their sober support network in therapy sessions and other group activities. Through these connections and experiences, sober living homes can provide a pathway to long-term sobriety.

If you or a love one are looking for a smooth and steady transition, Serenity Now Recovery is the place. Feel free to call us at 800-605-1786 or email at info@serenitynowrecovery.com if you have any questions regarding our house.