Sober Living - Does it help recovery?

May 8, 2017
Johann Kassim

Treatment will leave patients with a number of skill sets to which they need to use in order to maintain a sober lifestyle. Yet, this is not enough for genuine recovery. Going into treatment for 28 days or a couple of months will not do the trick to getting addicts sober and fully in recovery due to the nature of the disease. As addiction is a chronic relapsing disease, there is as high as a 50% chance of relapsing post-treatment. These are not good odds for anyone and more must be done to aid the recovery of those discharged from initial treatment for a relapse is as life-threatening as they come.

What can be done? A sober living house  is a solution to such problems post-treatment. It is supposed to provide those who have left treatment with adequate structure, social support, and stability to face the world outside the walls of the rehab facility. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that even this solution is fool-proof. However, the main aspect of the facility is to ensure that all its occupants adhere to continued abstinence and commit to a recovery program from addiction.

The Sober Living House(s) are either supported by an organization such as a rehab facility; by the government in certain countries; or run individually as a free holding establishment by certain private benefactors. They are usually equipped with guidelines or agreements to ensure a safe and sober living space for all. Furthermore, some esteemed houses may even employ treatment paradigms such as therapy and 12-step meetings as part of an in-house residential program to replace initial treatment at a rehab facility.  These programs are meant to shore up the recovery-culture/vibe of the place; whilst other Sober Living House(s) focus on facing life goals like completing one’s studies or finding and maintaining employment. Be it as preparation for the big wide world or living as part of it, an Sober Living House helps recovery by being that stepping stone between the close scrutiny and rigidity of rehab with the chaos and flexibility of the outside world.

Difference between Sober Living House and Halfway Houses (HWH)

Many do confuse sober living houses with halfway houses. Albeit similar, there are some notable differences such as:

Limit of stay: In HWH, clients have a limited time to stay, whereas at Sober Living House(s), one can stay so long as one can afford the fees and adhere to the guidelines of stay.

HWH are funded by the government, whereas Sober Living House(s) are usually funded privately.

HWH require formal treatment paradigms, whereas Sober Living House(s) have the option of including treatment within its works or focus on living arrangements alone.

HWH need to house former prisoners, which may include violent offenders, whereas Sober Living House(s) may restrict access to those with a previous prison sentence in order to ensure the safety of its tenants.

Does it help recovery?

There are a number of reasons why living at an Sober Living House will help in the onward recovery of addicts, who are just out of treatment. They are as follows:

Encourages a sober culture

As everyone is working for the same aim of being clean from addictive behavior and or chemicals, there exists a sober culture, which aims to support one another in these early days. A culture of sobriety is necessary for at least the first year in recovery as the outside world has ways of challenging one’s character to the brink of relapse at this initial stage.


Having people who are struggling with the same issues and providing support for each other, encourages fellowship with one another. The sense of camaraderie resultant of this process is necessary to replace the feelings of loneliness and bewilderment much accustomed to addicts in their first year of recovery.

A Disciplined lifestyle

Living in an Sober Living House involves being in a highly disciplined atmosphere. This is necessary as structure needs to replace idleness. Furthermore, it also replaces irresponsibility with accountability for the rules and regulations, allowing addicts to own their part in their behavior. Structure and discipline will inevitably pay-off in giving addicts the satisfaction of living a life suited to their internal purpose/calling, such as a job or fulfilling their studies at school/college/university.

A safe haven for recovery

As nobody who is using nor connected with using friends and or family are permitted to stay in an Sober Living House, there are no connections with the using culture of old. Hence, it is a safe haven for recovery within a world that may not be so safe, at first.

Freedom from codependency

An unspoken perk of staying at an Sober Living House is the freedom from codependent relationships, which had been the hallmark prior to treatment. Adult children or teens living with families or loved ones living in an abusive relationship both face codependent lifestyles where one depends totally on the emotions and responses of their loved ones for approval. At Sober Living House(s), one is removed from such contact and allowed to live life according to one’s immediate goals in recovery, making the transition as nurturing as possible.

Characteristics of Sober Living House(s)

Below are a number of characteristics of Sober Living House(s):

It’s an alcohol and drug free living environment for individuals intending to be abstinent.

There’s no formal treatment, but it is highly encouraged for each member to work a program of recovery that is capable of maintaining sobriety. For e.g., attending weekly 12-step self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Each member is compliant of house rules, which may consist of maintaining abstinence, paying rent and other fees; and performing all required house chores.

Members need to finance their own rent and other costs for maintaining their stay.

Members are invited to stay for as long as they desire so long as they are in compliance of house rules.  

Philosophy Behind Sober Living House(s)

Addicts, having a chronic relapsing disease, need the support of recovering addicts in the maintenance of their sobriety and recovery. Therefore, the philosophy behind the 12-step movement, wherein the “value of one addict helping another is without parallel”, is what Sober Living House(s) are based on. In lieu of this philosophy of mutual aid in recovery, a social network that supports recovery is what Sober Living House(s) hope to provide to those who seek it after a time in treatment. At Sober Living House(s), this philosophy is meted out when senior members help juniors out; and is also practiced when each member cuts ties with using friends and or family members to ensure that the safety and recovery of each resident is respected and upheld.

Solace Transition

At Solace Transition, clients will get a chance to live their newly attained sobriety and recovery within the context of the Solace facility, and the safety to venture beyond unassisted/unaided. We will put our clients in our very own Sober Living House community, with all the support and amenities still afforded to our primary clients/patients, such as individual therapy, fitness training, group therapy, and one daily meal. With this, it is hoped that our clients will take the advantage to explore the outside world and make decisions towards the future that will enhance their recovery for the better. Eventually, this is where we train our clients to finally, live for life.

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