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A Guide To Sober Living
Currently, over 20 million Americans aged 12 and above suffer from one type of addiction or the other. Similarly, fatalities from drug and alcohol abuse and overdose have more than tripled over the past 20 years to a national average of close 100 deaths by overdose per day.
From such statistics, it is clear that drastic measures have been to be taken to overcome substance abuse and get addicts the treatment and help they require to recover.
Luckily, there are tons of treatment options available. From outpatient therapy down to round-the-clock residential care, finding the right solution for your addiction should not be difficult.
One such treatment involves admission into a sober living facility. By joining such a program, you will enjoy streamlined access to a specialized support team while also continuing to enjoy some modicum of responsible freedom.
By learning the tenets of sober living, you will kick start your journey to a lifetime commitment. Although the program tends to require a stepwise approach, eventually you are likely to recover fully and keep away from the drugs, alcohol, and substances that plagued your life in the past.
Read on to find out more about sober living:
Understanding Sober Living
Sober living facilities are residences serving as group homes for individuals suffering from a variety of chemical addictions. At such a facility, you will enjoy a relaxing and stable environment to support your ongoing efforts to kick substance abuse and learn how to maintain sobriety.
However, these types of residences are different from rehab centers and hospitals in the sense that you will typically enjoy some leeway in your daily routine. The restrictions imposed are only likely to be established to protect the sobriety and safety of everyone at the facility.
Before you join a sober living facility, you need to keep in mind that you will still be allowed to conduct your life as you typically do. For instance, the home is likely to encourage you to still go to work. In fact, most residences will require that you work so that you can relearn some essential life skills while also getting the opportunity to be able to afford the expenses and rent associated with the residence.
In the same way, serving as a resident at a sober living facility means that you will have to take drug tests regularly. This is done to confirm your sobriety, and to ensure that no one has fallen back to the addiction bandwagon. If the facility discovers any signs that you have been conforming to the prescribed program, it might evict you until you are ready to commit to a life of staying clean.
That said, sober living programs take up just about any resident who is struggling in their addiction recovery. As a resident, you would typically be expected to follow the set rules.
However, you will also enjoy easy and convenient access to addiction professionals, such as staff therapists and counselors. Additionally, there might be a case manager to coordinate the living routines and treatment programs. Other residences typically have biofeedback specialists, spiritual counselors, psychologists, and psychotherapists on their payroll.
Although not everyone can gain admission into a sober living residence, the facilities are ideal if you are looking for a supportive environment to give you the impetus to transition to a life of full sobriety.
By living in such an environment, you are highly likely to boost the odds that you will recover permanently. In this way, sober living facilities are not a quick fix or a temporary solution to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
Still, the program you sign up for might only work if you remain committed to following the steps prescribed. Of course, this means that you have to realize that recovery won't happen overnight. Rather, you have to put in the effort and enjoy the support until you achieve the meaningful results you are striving for.
Sober Living Rules
Irrespective of the sober living facility you join, there are certain rules you need to follow to ensure that the program is successful. These rules are established to allow you to understand your roles, what is expected of you, and the responsibilities you need to take up during your stay.
Although all facilities tend to come with their own rules, most will ask you to:
- Allow no high or drunk people to come visiting
- Attend all in-house support group sessions and meetings
- Handle the chores related to the sober living household
- Keep alcohol, drugs, and all other addictive substances out of the facility and its environs
- Treat fellow residents and the in-house staff with respect
When everyone follows these rules, harmony tends to reign supreme in the home. However, there are several other requirements specifically designed to teach you how to join fellow residents in pulling together a lifestyle of balance and sobriety.
As mentioned above, for instance, you might be asked to continue working (or get a job if you didn't already have one). The facility rules are also highly likely to require that you volunteer in the local community, especially if you have a hard time finding a job.
In the same way, the facility might require that you attend all your substance abuse and addiction therapy meetings on time, and provide proof of such attendance. Other communities will even provide you with links to resources that will help you resolve any outstanding legal issues you might have, create healthier eating and exercise plans, and balance your budget.
From the comprehensive support provided, you are more likely than not to eventually relearn the process of setting goals, maintaining a healthy routine, and continue functioning as a happy and healthy adult in the society you live in.
Key Features Of Sober Living
Apart from the above rules, sober living entails certain features. Among these, the principal one is the social support provided in the household. This is because statistics show that people with an active social support group that discourages alcohol and substance abuse are even more likely to discontinue their addiction and enjoy longer periods of sobriety and recovery.
The sober living features that support recovery include but are not limited to:
a) Drug-Free Setting
The main reason why you would move into a sober living facility is to enjoy the drug-free environment created. In such an environment, your desire to keep away from drug and alcohol use will be actualized and reinforced. After all, the primary requirement for any sober living facility revolves around the sobriety of the residents.
In many cases, the home is also highly likely to encourage you (and other residents) to participate in 12-step meetings and/or group therapy. These meetings may eventually contribute to the sober lifestyle promoted in the facility.
c) House Rules
As a resident, you might be required to follow all established house rules. Typically, for instance, you will complete chores, avoid substance use, prepare meals, and participate actively in all house meetings.
d) Drug Testing
Most of the homes you are going to come across are likely to perform periodic drug testing. This is done to ensure that everyone in the facility is abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
As a resident, you might be encouraged to develop goals and work towards them. The common goals at a sober living facility include finding a job, completing school, or even getting your finances in order.
These features tend to be appealing to people recovering from serious drug and substance abuse and addiction. This is mostly on account of the fact that they emphasize those aspects of responsibility and structure that are required for healthy, sober living. Similarly, the features will reinforce personal responsibility and balance the characteristics of fellowship and freedom that are interlinked to extended sobriety.
Last but not least, the interactions you engage in while at the facility are highly likely to develop into opportunities for you to build new problem-solving and decision-making skills that you can use in your daily personal and professional life outside the residence.
Sober Living And Timing
So, when is the ideal time in your recovery process to join a sober living home? Addiction is a relapsing and chronic condition that is variously affected by the long term abuse of alcohol and drugs - which tends to change the chemistry and structure of the brain.
After using drugs over a prolonged period, you are highly likely to get to a point where you no longer have a choice about whether to stop or to use. It is because of this reason that there are a couple of stages involved in addiction recovery.
Most sober living homes are likely to accept anyone who is still new to the rehabilitation process. However, some facilities establish specific treatment requirements which you need to meet before you gain admission into the program.
To this end, you might first have to attend an initial meeting where the home will decide whether you are at the right stage in your recovery - a stage where it would make sense for you to join the facility.
For instance, the house rules at the residence are non-negotiable, and you have to agree to adhere to them. Similarly, the home will most likely require your active participation in ongoing treatment, as well as your productivity and involvement during your stay.
That said, sober living is ideal for anyone at the recovery stage where they are responsible enough to live with others struggling with the same or similar addiction issues.
Consider the following:
1. Withdrawal and Detoxification
A growing number of sober living facilities are likely to prefer new residents who have completed the addiction withdrawal and detoxification process. As you go through this stage, you might suffer from an assortment of psychological and physical reactions - ranging from a rapid heartbeat and cold sweats to anxiety and restlessness.
Similarly, this stage of the recovery process might require constant monitoring, something that most sober living homes won't be equipped to provide. As a direct result, it is highly unlikely that such a home will accept a recovering addict who has difficulty with detox and withdrawal, or those who are unable to participate in the traditional treatment program due to illness or acute withdrawal symptoms.
2. Commitment to Recovery
As a resident, you might be asked to show your commitment to a life of full sobriety during your stay. This lifestyle tends to be easier for individuals who have already undergone counseling and enjoy easy access to coping strategies and tools to help them stay sober.
Sober living homes are not places you go to after your family and friends intervene directly, and you are still in denial about your addiction issues. At this stage, you are unlikely to do well with the environment of the home or the structure created.
Only after you have undergone some treatment and you have acknowledged that you have a problem will the facility consider welcoming you into its folds.
Is A Sober Living Facility Right For You?
As with everything else related to drug and alcohol addiction, sober living programs carry different levels of risk and reward. Only think about joining such a facility if:
- The outpatient programs you attended did not provide the benefits you wanted
- You didn't have any success with previous attempts at halfway house programs and rehabilitation
- You lack the strong support system required to contribute positively to your efforts to maintain sobriety
- You wish to preserve your lifestyle, employment, and other aspects of your daily comings and goings without restrictions
Different recovering addicts might benefit from sober living homes. These include those who completed a recognized rehab program - in particular through inpatient rehabilitation.
According to NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), it is highly recommended that you remain in a rehab program for a minimum of 90 days as you continue overcoming your addiction.
When all is said and done, and after the rehab program ends, you may benefit even more from the ongoing support provided in an environment such as a sober living home while also enjoying greater levels of independence.
Overall, as you continue battling your addiction to drugs, alcohol, and any other commonly abused substance, keep in mind that hope exists. One such place where you might find respite is at a sober living facility.
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