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Sober Housing is Crucial for
Recovering Substance Abusers

The benefits of residing in a sober living house may seem self-evident if you know about substance use disorders. It is intuitive to most that residing with other recovering people would be helpful to avoid relapse.

It’s well known that long-term recovery is aided by extended treatment. For the purposes of this discussion, sober living is not technically treatment. However, it’s a crucial part of a recovering person’s life – the eight hours they spent sleeping and is also where they started and ended their day, in the sphere of influence of their roommates or family.

Accountability and Testing

A reputable sober living home will require regular testing, which should be facilitated by a house manager and done multiple times a week, with no warning.

The majority of sober living homes also require participation in support groups, and possibly tasks. These layers of accountability really add up, giving people a reason to stay sober and constant reinforcement for their continuing sobriety.

Supportive Peer Relationships

One great benefits of sober living homes is the resident bonds with others who are also in recovery. This provides peer support and role models for sobriety. This is great to support the individual throughout the period in early recovery when they are still experiencing Post Acute Withdrawals Syndrome.

Longer Treatment Equals Better Outcomes

there is a well-known correlation between longer-term treatment and better sobriety outcomes. The sober living house is a crucial component to the recovering persons support system, and while not technically “treatment”, a crucial component to the life of any recovery individual.

Independent Recovery

The ideal goal for any recovering person is to be able to remain sober without any external help. However most people who start down the path of recovery take a liking to their support groups in many of the new processes and habits they developed.

A benefit of sober living is that it starts you down the path of building interpersonal connections, and strengthens your daily regimen of activities to support your long-term recovery when you are no longer in a recovery residence. When people eventually move back home (or to their own independent living space), they can still benefit from all the support groups and the connectors they made without any fees that are associated with treatment in the sober living.

Only One Piece of the Puzzle

Sober living by itself should not be considered as a guarantee against relapse. However, it is clearly a beneficial and supportive element that is too often overlooked by those who have completed a short period of residential treatment or managed to obtain a period of sobriety on their own.

The benefits of participating in a sober living house include:

  • Less Exposure to negative influences
  • Supportive, positive, environment of recovering peers
  • Higher accountability for relapse
  • Positive routines that support 'life-skills'
  • Increased freedom with reduced temptation
  • The flexibility to transition back to empowering ‘normal life’ activities (ie. work and school)

For more information or to find a sober living, visit Samhsa.gov.

About the Author:

Mike Williams is a San Diego native who participates in recovery at By the Sea sober living in San Diego and has written about the field of behavioral health for over 15 years.


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