People who enroll in sober living communities have the opportunity to experience a deep and profound sense of healing. Here, they can meet other people new to the recovery process, and together, they can develop a roadmap that leads to a sobriety that persists, no matter what challenges may lie ahead. Choosing the right program is vital for long-term success, but the way a person behaves when living in a sober living facility also has a deep impact on the lessons learned and the success obtained. These are just a few tips people can follow in order to ensure that they get the most out of their sober living experience.
Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to the rules of a sober living community. These programs have been designed to allow people of different backgrounds, personal histories and educational levels to live together in peace and harmony, and as a result, most facilities have long lists of rules that simply must be followed to the letter. Many of the rules cover issues of substance use and abuse, ensuring that people aren’t using while on the campus, but other rules might concern curfew times, chore responsibilities or use of common areas. Breaking these rules could mean expulsion, so it’s vital that people understand the rules in advance.
While people in sober living homes might still look to their addiction counselors and support group sponsors for advice and guidance as they attempt to achieve sobriety, paying attention to the habits and opinions of the other people who live in the sober facility might also be helpful, especially if those residents have managed to stay sober for a long period of time.
Peer models like this, according to an article in the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions can provide people new to recovery with a sense of hope. When they enter treatment, they may feel as though persistent sobriety is a faraway dream they can never hope to achieve. With the help of a role model, they might see that recovery really is possible.
While people living in these facilities might not appreciate close inspection, as they may dislike the feeling of being watched or policed, there’s no harm in newer residents asking more experienced residents for advice regarding:
Making connections could also come in handy when people struggle with their sobriety. While a study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests that a feeling of self-efficacy is related to long-term sobriety, as people who think they can stay sober tend to do so, anyone in recovery is likely to have days during which healing seem tenuous. They may hit an emotional low or a life difficulty, or they may just feel the temptation to use begin to rise due to no trigger they can name at the moment.
When these situations strike, reaching out to the other residents of a sober living home can be an excellent idea. These other residents may have tips they’ve used in the past in order to move past a troubling moment, or these residents may be willing to listen and talk and wait, until the sensation passes of its own accord. Leaning on the group and the community in this way, and asking for support, could help a person to avoid making a terrible mistake, and that person might be willing to help when another resident seems at risk of relapse in the future.
Living in a communal setting with strangers isn’t easy, and sometimes, sacrifices must be made in order to keep the peace. People might need to limit visits in public spaces, so that all residents have the opportunity to use communal spaces, or they might need to keep their trash picked up and their dishes washed, so the home stays clean for everyone who lives there. Paying attention to radio volume, as well as speaking volume, may also help to keep the home peaceful and easy for everyone to share.
Despite the best intentions, it’s possible that residents in these facilities will disagree over some minor point of etiquette or major breach of manners. In these moments, things can quickly escalate and spin out of control, and sometimes that’s due to the damage caused by addiction. For example, in a study in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, researchers found that people with cocaine addictions had high levels of anger and impulsivity due to specific changes in their brain cells associated with drug use. These people didn’t intend to overreact in response to a stimulus, but their brain cells had become somewhat damaged. In a sober home, this kind of problem could make a simple confrontation become serious, in no time at all.
Sober homes often hold house meetings, and here, residents can discuss their concerns about the house and the ways people are behaving. This could be an ideal time to bring up a major concern, as there are others present who can step in and perhaps defuse a tense moment. Minor concerns, however, might best be dealt with via tact and good manners. Approaching other residents with respect and using constructive language could allow everyone to feel positive and likely to come to a common solution.
Sober living homes may provide structure and rules, but there are multiple opportunities for freedom in this model. People might be allowed to create their own meal plans, for example, and they might have a significant amount of free time to spend in any way they see fit.
Focusing on health in these spare moments could make sobriety a little easier to maintain, as some relapses can be directly tied to poor physical health.
In a study of the issue, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 74 patients with alcohol dependence were followed for five months.
Other research has suggested that people who don’t exercise tend to relapse, as they don’t feel physically fit and connected to their bodies. Some experts even suggest that eating poorly could contribute to relapse, as disordered eating can trigger cravings for drugs.
Focusing on health can allow people to develop a deep respect for their bodies and the way their bodies function. As a result, they may be less likely to pollute their bodies with alcohol and drugs. Eating right, sleeping well and exercising often can also help people to feel less physical discomfort, meaning they may have fewer symptoms they feel they must suppress with alcohol or drugs.
Many sober living facilities ask residents to spend their evenings within the walls of the facility, rather than heading out into the community after dark. In time, however, people might be allowed a bit more freedom when the sun goes down, and they might even be allowed to spend some evenings away from the treatment facility. Research suggests that people who get these opportunities for recreation should use them wisely, and they should avoid situations in which drug use is rampant. For example, in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, researchers found that people who visited clubs were twice as likely to use illegal drugs as people who didn’t go to clubs. Staying away from risky situations like this could help people to avoid a dangerous mistake they might later come to regret.
Sober homes are structured to provide people with a template they can follow in order to live a sober life when all their treatment has been completed. They’ll know how to structure a day and fill it with positive activities, they’ll have tips they can lean on in order to avoid temptation and, they’ll have months of experience in resisting the temptation to use. Looking back on the experience could help people to stay sober, but planning ahead can also be helpful. People who live in these facilities might spend time thinking about how their lives will be when their programs are through, and they might consider focusing their thoughts on the situations they know will be difficult. They can practice and problem-solve now, really planning for the problems to come, and when those problems do arise, they’ll know just what to do in response. Thinking ahead like this, and being cognizant of the issues in the future, could help some people to make the most of their time in a sober home.
Reading about sober living homes can be inspiring, but people with addictions won’t know how helpful these facilities really can be unless they enroll and get help. If you’re ready to start your own sober search, please call.