The real world can be a frightening place for recovering addicts, particularly those who are just getting out of addiction treatment facilities. People in rehab are given intensive therapy, and they follow schedules that have been carefully planned for them. Beyond choosing what to wear each day, they are not faced with many decisions of a practical nature. Addiction treatment programs are designed in this way, to allow addicts to focus on their recovery.
The outside world is very different from the rehab centre. In the outside world, the recovering addict has access to drugs and alcohol, contact with people from his or her old life who may have helped fuel the addiction, and exposure to many of the same conflicts and pressures that were present during the period of addiction.
Most frightening of all, the addict is faced with an endless array of choices, and for someone whose life has been scheduled for them for a period of time, this can be overwhelming. To make the transition a little easier and less sudden, people leaving rehab can go to sober living facilities.
Sober living facilities are group homes for people who are recovering from drug or alcohol addictions. Residents are expected to follow strictly enforced house rules, but they pursue their own activities – such as work or school – and they set their own schedules.
The house rules vary from one facility to the next, but they would typically include the following:
- No alcohol, drugs or gambling items are allowed
- Residents have to pay rent, buy their own food and be accountable for their private living spaces
- Residents have to do chores and help maintain common areas of the house
- Some of the group homes have curfews and ask residents to submit to random drug tests
One might expect residents to rebel against the idea of following rules. After all, most of them have been confined to a rehab facility for some weeks, and they want the freedom to do what they want, when they want. In reality, though, those who have just left treatment facilities need a little bit of guidance in their everyday lives. At the same time, they need the freedom to start reintegrating themselves in society, and sober living facilities can provide the right balance of structure and independence.
The group home environment is an effective option for people who do not have adequate family support, or who need some time to decide what direction their lives are going to take. Sober living facilities provide many benefits:
- Addiction tends to make people behave in irresponsible ways. A group home setting provides a protected environment in which they can learn to be responsible.
- It provides a built-in network of support. Recovering addicts may feel a sense of loneliness and isolation. In a sober living facility, they are among people who understand a lot of what they are going through.
- It ensures that residents have a guaranteed place where drugs or alcohol are not available.
- Most sober living facilities are located in quiet residential neighbourhoods conducive to a life of sobriety.
Being a recovering addict is hard work, and it is often exhausting. A sober living facility, combined with an effective aftercare program, can give individuals the support they need as they adjust to a life without drugs or alcohol.