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Ideas about addiction and appropriate treatment are changing. More people are beginning to understand addiction as a chronic disease of the brain, influenced by a complex combination of genetics, family history, environment, and stress. Treatment programs reflect these changes in understanding, and post-rehabilitation programs are evolving as well.
Sober living homes are a form of transitional housing, but they do not offer in-home treatment or therapy. Instead, an onsite manager maintains the house rules and health standards. This person is often living in recovery, so they are familiar with the situation new sober living home residents are dealing with. The manager is also usually an employee of the sober living home or company.
Unlike other types of transitional or residential housing programs, sober living homes are kept intentionally small, and they are often located in quiet residential neighborhoods. Residents pay rent, cover their own bills, buy their own groceries, and attend regular treatment programs. Residents may participate in 12-Step meetings, secular support groups, individual therapy, and more formal outpatient rehabilitation programs. Residents are often required to find a job, go to school, or volunteer.
As sober living homes grow in popularity, they are becoming more regulated by states. This is an important step to preventing fraud and in standardizing sober living home requirements. This oversight also protects residents and employees of sober living homes from discrimination. Some neighborhoods have complained about the presence of people recovering from addiction, but various laws dictate that these individuals have a right to live in a clean, safe environment that is free from discrimination.
Transitional housing is very important to people working to recover from addiction. For many people who enter rehabilitation programs, it is important to leave their original environment to get help. Home, work, and social environments can trigger relapse. Former friends or family members may be struggling with addiction or mental health issues, and these can cause stress or temptation that leads to relapse. In order to develop a daily routine without drug use, many people choose to transition into a sober living home. Most often, residents are allowed to stay as long as they want. One study found residents typically stay around one year.
Recovering from addiction is a long-term process. Sober living homes provide a safe, sober, and supportive environment when a person’s original home cannot. They can serve as a critical transitional step, helping a person to find a stronger foothold in recovery before they return home.