Sober living homes are alcohol and drug-free facilities designed for newly sober individuals to step down from intensive addiction treatment programs to independent life.
In Georgia, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities oversees mental health care facilities in the state, including sober living homes. But there is no certification process or licensing body for sober living homes since they are not treatment centers. Nevertheless, most sober living homes comply with the standards set by the National Alliance for Recovery Residences.
The homes act as a bridge of sorts. Originally, persons who complete rehab go back home. However, there is a risk of relapse, especially if their environments do not support sober living. People in this situation would have to rely on their self-will to stay sober, but this is not sustainable.
Sober living homes ensure that residents get the time, space, and support they need to practice their coping skills before living independently.
But despite the advantages of living in a sober home, they are not formal treatment centers. These homes do not have the staff or equipment to provide addiction treatment. What they offer is peer-based support in an alcohol and drug-free environment.
The setup in sober living houses is very similar to that of regular family houses, except that the residents are not biologically related.
The number of residents in the homes depends on the number of rooms available. It is not out of place to have two residents share a room, but senior residents often have personal rooms. Meanwhile, spaces like the kitchen, living room, restrooms, and backyards are common areas.
A typical day for most residents goes thus:
Residents wake up at the set time, make their beds, and clean up. The house manager or a senior resident goes around to ensure everyone has woken up. Then residents do morning exercises, meditate, or pray. Afterward, residents prepare and eat breakfast, then prepare for work, school, or any other activity planned for the day.
Residents go to work, school, or go to their outpatient rehab program. They could also attend recovery support group meetings.
Residents return home, attend house meetings, relax by watching television or playing games, gist with one another, eat dinner and go to bed.
Daily life in sober living houses is guided by rules enacted to encourage sobriety. There are consequences for breaking these rules, usually revoking house privileges and eviction. Most sober living homes have the following rules:
Nothing that contains alcohol or drugs is allowed within the premises. This rule is very important as proximity to alcohol or drugs can threaten the recovery of other residents. Breaking this rule typically results in eviction from the home.
Most sober living homes discourage romantic relationships or casual sex between residents. The primary reason is that issues like a breakup or losing a partner can undo recovery progress or even cause a relapse.
Residents may have guests during the day. However, guests must sign in and may undergo a minor search to ensure they are not bringing things that contain alcohol or drugs into the homes. Furthermore, visitors may only stay in common areas. They are expected to leave when visiting hours end. Spending the night is not permitted.
Drug testing could be regular and planned or impromptu. The idea is to give residents a reason to stay sober and prevent a relapse.
Other important house rules are:
Staying in sober living homes does not in itself guarantee sobriety. A lot of effort and intentionality make it work. Yes, this might seem challenging, but it is possible with the right knowledge, adequate support, and strong motivation.
Here are a few ways to increase your chances of staying sober while in a Georgia sober living house:
Participating in daily chores, attending house meetings, and making financial contributions prepare residents to cope with societal obligations in regular life. It also keeps the mind preoccupied, leaving less time to entertain idle thoughts.
Residents should be intentional about identifying their triggers. These triggers could be people, places, or things. Identifying these triggers and finding ways to eliminate, avoid or cope with them will help residents increase their chances of staying sober.
Eliminating triggers could mean ending certain relationships or friendships. Avoiding triggers entails changing physical locations, especially if these places or events are known to cause a craving for alcohol or drugs. It will be best to avoid them and find alternatives.
There are specific triggers one can neither eliminate nor avoid. For instance, stress is a trigger, and one cannot avoid every stress or event outside their control. However, one can set up filters to prevent those stressors or practice healthy coping mechanisms.
A regular individual may be able to offer support, but people in recovery understand the challenges better and can recommend the resources or skills that work. In sober living houses, residents have the opportunity to build friendships. These friendships serve as support systems such that one can give and also receive help.
Sober living homes cannot offer any form of formal addiction treatment. Therefore, residents battling addiction still need help from rehab specialists, whether in outpatient rehab or continuing care.
Some sober living homes make 12-step group meetings compulsory. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous have proven to be helpful for people in recovery.
Life is interesting when there are goals to achieve. One of the goals residents should commit to is achieving some degree of financial independence. And achieving this goal requires that residents get jobs. Getting a job boots self-confidence and helps them work towards independent living.
After completing an inpatient addiction treatment program, the next advisable step is to continue recovery at a sober living home. This is usually the last step before a patient finally returns home.
It is important to note that a sober living home does not replace detox and inpatient rehab. In fact, a patient would need to have completed inpatient rehab to be eligible for sober living homes. However, this isn't always mandatory.
Sober living homes and halfway houses are terms that are used interchangeably. This is understandable, as both are drug-free residences that serve to ease the transitions between addiction treatment and returning to normal life. Though similar, they are different in some ways.
Sober living homes are mostly run by individuals, organizations, or in affiliation with inpatient treatment centers. This implies that residents have to pay rent and other related fees. But halfway houses are funded by government agencies with no cost to residents.
Recovering individuals voluntarily go to seek admission into sober living homes. On the other hand, entry into halfway houses is usually part of alternative sentencing or parole conditions.
Residents in sober living homes can decide to stay as long as they wish. All they need to do is pay rent, stay sober, and obey the house rules. The court or correctional institution determines how long residents must stay in halfway houses.
While the residents in sober living houses consist only of recovering individuals who wish to stay sober, the population in halfway houses consists of recovering individuals, homeless persons, and those from the correctional system.
Sober living homes look like regular apartments with two people sharing a room. This structure provides privacy and comfort. On the other hand, halfway houses are built like dormitories, with several people sharing a room. This structure leaves little to no room for comfort and privacy.
Sober living homes do not offer professional services. Residents have to go out to attend to their appointments. Meanwhile, halfway houses offer several professional services like counseling and life skills.
Because the government funds halfway houses, they tend to be cheaper. In comparison, sober living houses that are self-funded are more expensive. In some cases, insurance could help reduce the cost of staying.
Sober living houses are living arrangements that provide alcohol and drug-free environments. These living arrangements are in various forms, each with its peculiarities. The level of support offered and the type of residents varies as well. The four broad types of sober living houses are:
Halfway houses were primarily made to cater to individuals leaving correctional facilities. Most often, residents of halfway houses have been court-ordered to stay in a halfway house, and they have no say on how long they spend there. The population in halfway houses is quite diverse. Aside from individuals from correctional facilities, people with chronic mental illnesses, people who do not have accommodation, victims of domestic violence, and recovering addicts also live in halfway houses.
These facilities serve as temporary housing for individuals in recovery to stay while trying to secure accommodation and gain financial stability. Skill acquisition, addiction therapy, and other forms of support are provided. Residents can spend up to two years here.
Recovery houses are facilities that offer some professional services. Abstinence from drugs and alcohol is mandatory. In recovery residences, residents may have access to medical treatment, and medications are allowed.
A sober living home is not a formal addiction treatment program and is not as restrictive as the others. Intending residents must have undergone detox and been able to stay sober for about two weeks before moving into the house. Support is peer-based with little or no professional care.
In sober living homes, residents will go through three main phases in increasing order of independence. These phases are the restrictive phase, the reintroduction phase, and the self-sufficiency phase.
This is the first and most restrictive phase. Residents undergo mental detox by staying off phones and computers. This phase aims to help the individual get acquainted with the house, its rules, and regulations.
Residents will have to stay away from work or school temporarily. They can attend therapy and other important meetings but usually with other residents as chaperones. Residents have to do their chores and follow the rules and regulations in the home while sketching a plan for how they intend to spend their time in the sober living home. This phase lasts about four weeks.
In the reintroduction phase, the resident must have settled in and feel comfortable staying in the home.
They may now resume school, work, or any other life commitments. They also have to attend mutual support groups. Residents who do not have a job can go in search of jobs. Personal transportation can be used in this phase but only for important reasons.
This is the last phase before residents start living independently. Residents in this phase take on more responsibilities and may mentor newer residents. They can secure accommodation and begin to share their time between the sober home and their apartment.
Have you or your loved one completed inpatient addiction treatment and wish to seek sober living houses in Georgia? Here are five things to consider when seeking a sober home:
If possible, visit the home in person, and take a tour to see things yourself. Watch out for how clean the environment is, what amenities are available, and the neighborhood. It could be helpful to find out from past residents their experiences in the home.
For access to sober living facilities, call the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities at 1-800-715-4225. Or check their website to get the specific office contact for your region.
Alternatively, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at (800) 662-4357 to find a sober living home. Your conversation with SAMHSA's representative is confidential, and the line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to guide you through finding a suitable sober living home. The treatment center locator can also help you find a rehab program. The locator shows the facility's location and contact information. You will also see an overview of available therapies, amenities, and supported payment methods.