Over the last decade, approaches to addiction treatment have changed. Today, more people seek help from external support systems beyond therapists, counselors, and traditional support groups. Although all of these professionals and services remain vital components of an addiction recovery team, many find they want or need additional support beyond that found as part of their initial treatment program. Deciding to seek help to overcome addiction can feel complicated and intimidating. But what happens after you finish rehab?
For many, the idea of leaving behind the stability and safety of a residential addiction treatment program like The Hills in Los Angeles, CA, and going back into the world where addiction lives are often even more daunting. Consequently, many recovering addicts turn to additional support systems for ongoing support and accountability. One such option for support is a sober living program or sober living community.
What are Sober Living Homes?
Sober living homes or sober living communities are facilities often associated with a rehab like The Hills in Los Angeles. Although these facilities can be stand-alone environments, they are frequently associated with an addiction treatment center because they serve as a transition or a step-down option for people completing addiction treatment who are not yet ready to leave the supportive environment of residential care. Sober living homes are frequently used by somebody in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
During the earliest stages of sobriety and recovery, triggers may feel as though they surround you everywhere you go. A sober living home and the peer support structures formed while part of the sober living community provides a safe way to ease the difficulty of transitioning from the heavily structured nature of the residential treatment environment to returning home. At a sober living home, you will receive essential guidance and the support you need to help reduce the risk of trigger exposure and relapse while helping you slowly regain independence from drugs or alcohol.
How Can A Sober Living Home Help You?
The residential or inpatient addiction treatment process is designed to be fully immersive. While progressing through treatment and working to overcome addiction, you are entirely immersed in your rehab program and, as a result, continually surrounded by care and guidance. Depending on the intensity of your particular treatment program, and the design of the treatment facility you choose, you will have access to doctors, nutritionists, pharmacy professionals, nurses, and a range of other highly skilled therapy providers and staff on a 24/7 basis. Because of this, care and support are available regardless of the time of day.
At an inpatient (residential) treatment program, you will find that there are particular rules associated with the program. Although challenging at first, these rules are one of the most significant benefits of seeking residential treatment. Throughout the course of your treatment program, you will be expected to “live” at the rehab facility. This level of structure helps limit or entirely remove the potential for difficulties during treatment, such as relapse triggers or the exposure to people or substances that increase your desire to drink or use.
Once you complete treatment and leave the security of the inpatient treatment environment, things inevitably change. People living at a sober home are not bound or restricted by the same type of confinement as what is found in a treatment facility. Therefore, residents of the sober home are free to come and go on their chosen schedule. This is both a blessing and, potentially, a curse for many. This level of freedom is the first step on the road to maintaining sobriety. It offers addicts new to recovery the opportunity to learn and practice independence without turning to substances as part of their daily routines.
For others, the lack of guidance, supervision, and accountability can lead to increased challenges to their sobriety and ability to maintain recovery. The goal (and benefit) of staying in a sober environment for a time after completing treatment is to allow you to ease back to your day-to-day routine slowly and safely. Time at a sober living home helps newly sober recovering addicts gradually return to their obligations and responsibilities with the help and support of like-minded peers who share the same sobriety goals.
An important thing to remember about sober living homes is that they are (by design) far less restrictive than a residential care treatment environment. However, despite the increased level of freedom, there are still rules in place that residents staying in the sober living community are required to follow during their stay.
Some sober living environments also require mandatory, randomly scheduled drug and alcohol testing. Although it may seem intrusive, this testing is important to ensure that someone living in the sober living community has not relapsed and is either wittingly or unwittingly exposing other members of the community to substances.
Another benefit to choosing to stay in a sober living home is relapse prevention. Sober living environments are an ideal place to learn and reinforce relapse prevention skills learned during treatment. Unfortunately, relapse is a common part of recovery for many who complete substance use disorder treatment. Data provided in the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2019 suggest more than 22 million Americans, some as young as age twelve, met the diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder or drug use disorder in the past year. Unfortunately, this is a number that has not declined in recent years.
However, perhaps more concerning is the number of people who seek the help they need yet still experience relapse. Relapse is still a significant possibility for whether one completes an inpatient program or seeks help to overcome addiction in an outpatient environment. The same survey noted above also tracks relapse and overdose rates. According to the most recent NSDUH, less than twenty percent of newly recovered addicts who completed an addiction treatment program will maintain sobriety for more than one year. The relapse rate rises to nearly forty percent between years one and two. Overall, data suggests between forty and sixty percent of addicts who complete rehab will experience at least one incidence of relapse.
It is vital to state that relapse is not indicative of treatment failure. If you are one of the many who experience relapse after seeking treatment at a drug and alcohol treatment program like The Hills, it does not mean treatment “did not work.” It often means you did not have adequate support and guidance during the early stages of recovery when triggers are the most difficult to manage. By choosing to stay at a sober living home, you have the benefit of support from a group of peers who share similar struggles, worries, and concerns. Sharing your progress and your failures with other sober community members may help you reduce your exposure to triggering situations (including places, people, and events) and help you stay committed to lasting sobriety. It also offers people at all stages of their recovery an opportunity to provide guidance, advice, and support to other sober community members who may be at differing stages in their recovery journey.
Residents at a sober living home are encouraged to participate in regular support group sessions and ongoing therapy appointments. In most cases, therapy appointments, medical appointments, and other support sessions are arranged as part of a comprehensive aftercare program developed with your treatment team as your 30, 60, or 90-day therapy program comes to an end. At most sober living homes, residents are encouraged to attend peer support and group meetings (12-step or similar) such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Residents are also encouraged to learn and (continue) practicing accountability, routine, and structure while developing new relationships with peers who are also working on recovery and ongoing sobriety.
One of the most significant benefits of a sober living community is developing friendships with like-minded peers who will help reinforce your desire to remain sober. Unfortunately, it is common for newly recovered addicts to become isolated after returning home or to their communities after inpatient treatment. Many newly sober addicts feel it is necessary to keep their distance from their former circle of friends or family to reduce their risk of exposure to relapse triggers. Sober living homes provide a support system that can both help residents avoid the isolation that comes with going directly from residential treatment back home and provide an environment of support during the hardest and most fragile stages of recovery.
There are many benefits to spending time at a sober living home. Suppose you have recently completed an addiction treatment program or are preparing to discharge from your program here at The Hills in Los Angeles, California. In that case, it is important to communicate with the members of your treatment team about your aftercare wishes. After completing treatment, choosing to transition to a sober living home is often an important step for people new to recovery, especially when relapse triggers are plentiful and challenging to manage.
Because many who are new to recovery find that they struggle with the adjustment period immediately following addiction treatment, sober living homes offer a safe setting between inpatient care and home where you can practice and reinforce the lessons you learned during your treatment program. For many, time spent in a sober living environment may make the difference between maintaining a path of sobriety and relapsing back to drug and alcohol use. Contact our admissions team today if you would like to learn more about our addiction treatment programs at The Hills and how we can help you start your journey to sobriety. We can help you learn more about the benefits of sober living and how time at a sober living community can help you stay on track to lasting sobriety, health, and wellness.