After completing a rehabilitation treatment program for addiction, the hard work has actually just begun.
It should come as no surprise that when a recovering addict leaves residential treatment, they frequently struggle to find ways of coping to avoid relapse. They are suddenly thrust into a world where they must find housing, employment, and aftercare services — all while fighting to stay sober.
But there are multiple ways one can start a life after rehab, including entering a transitional living facility. Also referred to as sober living facility or halfway home, a transitional living program can act as a bridge between inpatient treatment and the "normal world."
In fact, studies have shown that taking advantage of transitional living options after being discharged from an inpatient facility is a key factor to having positive outcomes for people recovering from substance abuse.
Transitional Living Facility
Inpatient treatment centers are highly monitored environments, requiring the individual to live in a structured and monitored setting. Residential facilities track specific times to wake-up, attend therapy sessions, meet with professionals, and even meal times.
A sober living home provides a stepping stone between the controlled world of inpatient treatment and the complete freedom of living on your own. It is a viable option to alleviate any concerns about going from a highly monitored environment right back into daily life.
Sober Living Home Rules and Expectations
Sober living housing assists individuals in learning how to maintain their sobriety in a supportive environment.
A sober living home is designed to be a safe place. They are communal spaces that run like a family home. These transitional living situations have fewer rules than an in-house treatment program, but still provide structure, encouraging residents to develop positive coping skills and habits.
Every sober living home is different. Since there are multiple people who live together, there are limitations and restrictions to each resident’s behavior. Understanding the house guidelines before entering a sober living environment will help you to know what to expect and avoid unwelcome surprises.
In general, residents of sober living homes are expected to follow rules and have responsibilities such as:
- Zero tolerance for drug or alcohol use
- Submit to drug and alcohol
- Handle assigned chores
- Participate in house meetings
- Attend support group meetings, such as 12-step programs
- Secure a job or volunteering when ready
- Obey house curfews
- Follow regulations for visitors, if allowed
- Respect housemates and staff
- Honor others’ property
- No sexual activity between residents/staff
- Pay bills on time
Failed drug screenings, physical or verbal confrontation, stealing, or not following any of the rules are usually grounds for eviction from the facility.
This may sound harsh, but a sober lifestyle begins with a solid and consistent routine. The ultimate goal of living a sober life requires serious parameters and research demonstrates that living in a transitional home can improve the opportunity for sobriety.
The Benefits of Transitional Housing
A transitional living home can provide a community where people who are in recovery work together to remain sober. These halfway homes allow time and space for learning and healing after substance abuse treatment.
There are considerable advantages to choosing a sober living arrangement after rehabilitation, including:
1. Stability and Reduced Temptations
A universal rule for people in transitional living homes is to remain abstinent. It’s not easy. The National Institute of Drug Abuse states that that addiction relapse rates are as high as 40-60 percent.
The controlled surroundings of a transitional living home provide a structured setting that is predictable and manageable. This minimizes triggers to start using again and helps to prevent a return to drug or alcohol use.
In many cases, a recovering addict may not have a stable home to return to, or their living option may not support their recovery. A transitional living home can offer a supportive structure while also providing resources when returning to the “real world.” In this living situation, there are minimal outside influences and less chance for relapse.
2. Continued Treatment & Resources
The peer support communities that naturally form in halfway houses provide a safe place to share feelings with the common goal of sobriety. This is supplemented by the general requirement that residents remain in some type of formal support group as well as individual counseling.
Studies show that those who participated in 12-Step programs were more likely to remain abstinent for a longer time than those who didn’t. Staying involved with trained professionals, relapse prevention programs, and more while living in transitional housing increases the likelihood or remaining sober.
Addiction damages relationships and increases isolation. Most sober living houses generally have a small set number of residents, allowing for a sense of community. This close-knit group can help to repair social skills while providing a network of people who are on a similar path. Experiencing positive social interactions that offer encouragement is beneficial to long-term recovery.
4. Healthy Habits
It can take time for any new and healthy habit to form.
Fortunately, these residences can offer the needed time to make these healthy behaviors to develop. Many transitional living homes allow people to remain in them for as long as they would like, as long as they continue to follow the house rules.
This can take the pressure off, as people are able to progress through recovery at their own pace and add elements of everyday life back in as they are ready to do so. For example, individuals may return to work or school while living in a transitional living home, and slowly integrate into society and home life.
How to Find the Right Transitional Living Program
Some sober living homes cater to a specific segment of the population. Some accept only women, while others accept only men. There are halfway houses designed for people who have small children.
Cultural, predetermined age groups and even specific economic group homes are available, such as transitional addiction living for the homeless. Housing and shelter offer the at-risk recovering homelessness population a range of essential recovery support services, including behavioral, health, employment, and mainstream benefits.
And what may work for adults in recovery may be very different for youth or older adults in recovery. For example, youth residences provide a secure, supportive setting where teens can continue to be supervised while retaining some independence and flexibility. Although these adolescents are held accountable for following the rules and requirements of the home, they are given enough freedom to go to school, work at part-time jobs, or spend time with their families.
Even though people in recovery have their addiction in common, there are good reasons for customizing care based on commonalities and shared traits.
Remember, people in these programs are asked to help one another and work with one another. They should function as a cohesive family unit if the care is to be effective. People of similar backgrounds and needs may find this kind of rapport easier.
Cost of Sober Living
As you would expect, sober living homes have fees associated with them, and residents are expected to pay their rent and other costs on time each month. Avoiding debt as much as possible is important because, for many in recovery, the stress of owing money can trigger a relapse.
The price of a sober living home varies by state and even by city. Generally, these residences are self-sustaining, meaning that individuals living there are responsible for sharing the cost of living. These expenses include:
- Utilities (water, gas, heat, electricity)
- General living expenses
Although most have private pay type arrangements, some may offer to public assistance from grants, state funding, or charitable foundations.
Financial support may come from these areas:
- Insurance: Unfortunately, few insurance companies completely cover sober living costs. However, if insurance originally covered the expense of the rehabilitation program, costs, like medical care or therapy, may continue to be covered. Medicaid and Medicare options should also be examined.
- State Government Housing Assistance: The government website lists housing assistance programs by state. While this is primarily for people who are transitioning from homelessness or families experiencing a housing crisis, some programs may be able to offer financial assistance for those entering a sober living home.
- Unemployment: Depending on state laws, some people entering a sober living home may qualify for unemployment.
- Disability: People who have disabilities related to their addiction may be able to receive disability income. However, the definition of this qualification is very strict, so it is beneficial to consult a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) attorney.
- Grants: A person entering sober living may qualify for a grant to help cover their medical and living expenses. Some sober living homes are supported by nonprofit organizations and offer assistance in finding financial aid or free housing for a period of time.
- Referrals: Many addiction treatment centers provide referrals and information on local sober living homes and their specific costs.
Making the Transition
It is understandable that the transition from residential treatment to daily life can be stressful, particularly when recovering addicts must meet their basic needs at the same time that they are managing their addiction.
The stability and support of a home environment where a substance abuser returns to is absolutely fundamental to success. Sober living homes are excellent resources as an intermediary step between residential drug rehab and returning home.
For example, if a recovering addict returns to a home where family members inadvertently support their habit, or if they go back to roommates who also suffer from substance abuse, their chance of returning to drugs and alcohol increases.
Therefore, it is valuable to explore the option of transitional living arrangements for extended stays to help evolve back into daily life. For a majority of people in recovery, moving into a sober living home after treatment makes the difference between going back to their old habits or continuing on the path of sobriety.
There should be no doubt that immediate intervention is needed for individuals working toward a sober lifestyle when they leave treatment. Providing transitional assistance that includes access to stable housing, employment, aftercare services, and positive support networks is vital.
Making the Choice
Remember too, that not all sober homes are alike. Before you make a final selection, check the details:
- License validation
- Success rates of past residents
- Credentials of staff
- Number of qualified staff member on site
- Types of support services
- Education and/or job placement assistance
- Typical lengths of stay
- Accreditations and endorsements from national organizations
If you need help finding a sober living home that is right for you, our comprehensive listing can help you locate the best transitional living arrangement to bridge the time between completion of your treatment program and living independently.