Professionals in the field of chemical dependency, or anyone with personal experience with recovery from substance abuse, understand that recovery is a process that continues long after graduation from an intensive outpatient program. One of the most important factors in maintaining sobriety post-treatment is the type of living environment. In fact, the importance of sober living will help you realize the necessity of aftercare. Research has shown that a sober living environment is more conducive to sobriety versus an environment in which active substance use is present.
Importance of Sober Living After Rehab
Sober living houses are important and designed to provide moderate structure and support for individuals in recovery within a substance free living environment. Sober living houses typically emphasize the social model of recovery (i.e. 12-Step organizations) and often have a house parent or manager who monitors and supports the residents. This type of environment does not provide clinical treatment, but they do typically require that all residents comply with regular drug testing, a curfew, chores, and involvement with the 12-Steps. It has been shown that sober living homes are a helpful option for living following treatment especially, if a person’s original home environment is chaotic, unstable, and/or promotes substance use.
Polcin and colleagues (2010) 18-month study examines substance abuse and global functioning outcomes for residents in sober living homes. Following 245 residents with alcohol and/or drug abuse problems. Moreover, they enroll in the Clean and Sober Transitional Living program in California. The residents assessment includes severity of substance abuse, legal problems, psychiatric problems, employment, and family problems. This is all done at baseline, 6-months, 12, and 18-months.
The results show that subjects in the sober living environment made significant improvements. 42% of subjects reporting abstinence from drugs or alcohol at 18 months. This compares to 19% of subjects being abstinent at the start of the study. The results show improvements for subjects in the areas of employment and psychiatric problems as well. Furthermore, the findings show that subjects having social networks with lower substance use predicted positive outcomes. Based on their prior research on sober living houses, Polcin suggest that abstinence from substance use and retention of individuals in a sober living house can be improved if residents attend an outpatient treatment program during their stay.
Many treatment centers only offer 30-day programs or less. Therefore, the patient’s therapist or counselor plays a major role in helping to create a discharge plan. That includes selecting the most appropriate living environment for them at the time. In another study by Polcin (2012), the authors examine the perception of sober living houses in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction among mental health professionals. Forty-nine therapists and 85 drug and alcohol counselors were interviewed. Each assess their views of the role of sober living houses in terms of addiction treatment. The results showed that a majority of the chemical dependency professionals interviewed expressed strong support for sober living houses, however, most also reported that negative social stigma was a barrier to connecting addicts with these supportive environments.
Understanding the Importance of Sober Living
The transition from primary care to the real world can be one filled with obstacles and pitfalls. Sober living creates that safe guard that allows recovering addicts to find their purpose in life again. This creates fellowship within the home. It takes time, patience, and discipline to live a life of sobriety- that’s why sober livings are a great option to continue down the road of successful recovery.
Morningside Recovery is committed to clients who need support during this crucial period in their recovery. We welcome the opportunity to discuss the importance of sober living with you. We provide a safe, secure environment where you can start on your journey to a lasting recovery. Feel free to contact one of our counselors at (855) 631-2135.
Polcin, D.L., Korcha, R.A., Bond, J., & Galloway, G.P. (2010). What did we learn from our study on sober living houses and where do we go from here? Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 42, 425-433.
Polcin, D.L., Henderson, D.M., Korcha, R., Evans, K, Wittman, F., & Trocki, K. (2012). Perceptions of sober living houses among addiction counselors and mental health therapists: Knowledge, views and perceived barriers. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 44(3), 224-236.