Where to Live After Rehab: Sober Living or Home?

Drug rehab is often one of the first steps in an addiction treatment program. This form of evidence-based therapeutic interventions is an effective way to address substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, as it combines 12-Step Program work and a residential inpatient curriculum that is designed to treat the whole person, not just the addiction.

What to Do After Rehab

Residential rehab is just the beginning of the lifelong process of recovery. However, after completing a rehab program, you must choose between transitioning into a sober living home or returning home. Choosing where to live after rehab may be a difficult decision depending on your living situation at home, your progress in rehab, and your history with recovery and relapse.

If you find yourself in limbo, not knowing what to do, here are some of the pros and cons of moving back home or going to live in a sober living home.

How To Stay Sober After Rehab

man refuses alcohol at bar

Relapse does not have to be a part of your sober living journey. However, you are likely to experience various life challenges when you leave rehab. Regaining your freedom can become overwhelming and at some point, you may admit that you need structure and support.

After rehab, the most common mistake people make is returning home too quickly. While the thought of 30 days away may have been enough time for separation, if you assume that you’re ready to return home immediately after rehab, you can unknowingly set yourself up for failure. It is important to accept that things will be different than they were. Even still, there are certain things you can do to help reduce your risk of relapsing, all of which require a level of commitment from you.

Although returning home after rehab is always an option, enrolling in a sober living program and an IOP program are two great ways to continue your active pursuit of ongoing sobriety. In this blog, we’ll expand on several different options you have after you complete rehab and provide details on how they can help you stay sober.

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    Going Home After Rehab

    Returning home after rehab is a popular choice among many people in recovery. Going home after rehab is an attractive option because often people in recovery have family and friends waiting for their return. These loved ones may be excited about the person’s recovery and are prepared to support them in any way they can. Additionally, leaving beloved pets or a spouse behind to enroll in rehab is hard, but reuniting makes the return home even sweeter.

    Financial concerns may also be a motivating factor for many people in recovery. Going home after rehab could be necessary if the person is expected to return to work after completing rehab. Additionally, the cost of a sober living program may keep some individuals from enrolling.

    Since sober living homes require that residents live in a group setting with others in recovery, individuals who prefer the comfort and familiarity of their home may decide to go home after rehab instead of enrolling in a sober living program.

    Primary Reasons for Returning Home After Rehab
    Family and friends
    Significant other
    Financial reasons/job
    Doesn’t want to live with strangers
    Is comfortable living at home

    Unfortunately, in some instances, returning home after rehab could jeopardize a person’s recovery, especially if their spouse or loved ones aren’t supportive of their decision to get sober. The presence of drugs or alcohol in the home may also increase the person’s risk of relapse.

    What is a Sober Living House?

    sober living home in Austin, TX

    A sober living home is another living option you may want to consider after rehab, but what is a sober living house? And how does it benefit your recovery?

    To put it simply, a sober living home is a substance-free, group living environment for people who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Although sober living homes can be classified as halfway houses, transitional living, or recovery homes, the basic principle is the same. An immediate return to old stressful environments can trigger a relapse, so after rehab, it is highly recommended and beneficial to move into a sober home. While you adjust to a life of sobriety, a sober living home can serve as a smooth transition. Similar to a treatment setting, sober living homes are a safe place to practice a new life of sobriety.

    These types of homes differ from rehab centers and they act as a buffer between residential treatment and independent sober living. Sober homes are furnished homes that are usually located in quiet neighborhoods, much like an average house, except they are designed to house groups of men or women who are in recovery. Often, residents will have a roommate or several roommates, although private rooms may also be available.

    People who live in a sober living house can usually come and go as they please as long as they follow curfew and house rules. Residents of sober living communities are also typically required to take random drug tests to ensure that the living environment remains safe and sober for all residents. People who live in sober houses are expected to be responsible for themselves, pay for rent, and buy and cook their own food, much like if they were living in a regular house.

    Top Benefits of Living At a Sober Living Home

    peer support at sober living home
    1. Accountability – Sober homes hold residents accountable for their actions. Learning how to live sober independently is an important part of the recovery process. Most addicted individuals have an enabler in their life who does things for them. The enabler may believe they are supporting their loved one, but in actuality, they are doing the recovering addict a disservice by negating their need to learn how to live independently and take responsibility for their actions. Sober living homes combat this by requiring a certain level of accountability from their residents, which allows for more opportunities for personal growth. This means no mind-altering substances brought into the sober home and being honest and intentional about how you spend your time outside the sober home.
    2. Recovery support – Instead of the bereft feeling of no longer having a support system after leaving residential treatment, in sober homes, there’s continuing support provided by other residents.1 This is especially important for those who lack a strong support system Sober living residents know what you’re going through as you enter recovery, what it feels like, what to expect, and what to do if cravings and urges resurface.2 They can also encourage your efforts as you gain strength and continue to heal, just as they are.
    3. Personal freedom – Unlike residential treatment where you were required to remain at the rehab center for the duration of your treatment program, with sober living you have a lot more freedom. In a way, it’s like living in a boarding house where you can come and go as you want or need. Such freedom, experienced on a graduated scale, helps pave the way for your eventual return home and allows you to gradually acclimate back into society after treatment.
    4. Responsibility – Residents of sober living homes are expected to pay rent. This means residents must get and keep a job. Residents are also required to keep the house clean and contribute to household chores.
    5. Recovery meetings – Ongoing support from attendance at 12-Step and self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is strongly encouraged and may be required at sober homes.3 Residents participate in regular 12-Step meetings and some may also choose to go to individual counseling or another type of group therapy. The importance of 12-Step meeting attendance cannot be overstated. Such support from peers in recovery is proven to help newly recovered individuals maintain their sobriety.
    6. Weekly resident meetings – Another distinct advantage of sober homes is the opportunity to take part in weekly resident meetings. During these get-togethers, residents talk about any problems or issues they’ve experienced during the week as well as what they want to do the next week. This group sharing is very powerful to those who’ve just completed residential treatment and aren’t yet ready to return home.
    7. Interpersonal skills development – After drug or alcohol treatment, people in early recovery may find it difficult to communicate freely with others, doubt their abilities, and experience other problems and issues that could hamper ongoing recovery. In sober living environments, being with other people who share the same goals of recovery and who encourage each other to tackle challenges, master skills, and gain confidence is extraordinarily powerful. Learning to communicate and interact with other sober living residents courteously and respectfully helps build interpersonal skills that will be invaluable after leaving the sober home.
    8. Structure – The structure that is provided while living in a sober home can increase sober success rates. Programs are overseen by a house manager or a resident tech, as well as a program coordinator. Sober living homes in Austin, Texas provide support and structure in an environment with less stress than the real world.
    Primary Reasons for Living in a Sober Living Home
    Safe and sober living environment
    Strong support group
    Meeting like-minded people in sobriety
    Regular drug testing
    Safe integration back into society
    Fresh start
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      Sober Living Statistics

      Before investing the time and money into sober housing, many people want proof that their investment is worth it. While each person’s success in rehab and sober living is largely dependent on the amount of effort and hard work they put in, the recovery support services provided by sober living can greatly reduce a person’s risk of relapse and enhance their recovery experience in many ways.

      Here are some sober living statistics that help illustrate the efficacy and value of transitional housing programs for people in recovery:

      • In one 2011 study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, sober living programs increased the likelihood the recovering addicts would maintain their sobriety with few or no relapses.4
      • Sober living residents had fewer problems with alcohol and drugs, lower arrest rates, higher employment rates, and more stable housing arrangements maintained up to 18 months later.4
      • A study published by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that people enrolled in sober living programs experienced significant improvements to their mental health, reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, and had lower scores on personality disorder tests.5
      • According to a study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, addiction treatment clients who attended day treatment and live in a sober living home were ten times more likely to avoid relapse.6

      How to Find a Sober Living Home

      After you complete a rehab program, your treatment team may provide a referral to a sober living home. You may also search elsewhere. If you’re wondering how to find a sober living home, here are some practical steps to help you get started.

      1. Ask the treatment team at your addiction treatment center for a referral. Your treatment team is likely made up of professionals you trust and respect, so chances are, they will have great recommendations for ongoing care. If you need help finding a sober living home, ask your primary counselor or recovery specialist if they can meet with you to discuss some options. You can also ask around at 12-step groups or get a referral from your primary physician or therapist.
      2. Determine the structure and living environment that a home offers. Although the terms sober living home, halfway house, and ¾ house are often used interchangeably, there may be some differences in certain states. To ensure that a home has the structure and sober living environment you need for ongoing recovery, it’s a good idea to find out about the rules, requirements, and expectations for residents before you enroll in the program.
      3. Find out how long you’re allowed to stay. Many sober living homes allow residents to stay as long as they need, pending their drug tests remain clean. Although this is often the case, it’s a good idea to check with the staff to verify before you enroll.
      4. Make sure the home has a high standard of care. Some sober living homes may be accredited or licensed through a particular agency while others may not. Regardless, it’s important to ensure that your sober living home always provides a high standard of care. To find a sober living home that is best for your ongoing recovery, you may want to consider reviewing the standard of care guidelines outlined by the National Alliance of Recovery Residences.

      Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you can consider other factors such as location, cost, staff to resident ratio, and amenities to make your final decision. Here’s a helpful in-depth guide on how to choose a sober living home.

      Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) After Rehab

      iop group counseling

      An intensive outpatient program or IOP is a type of treatment program that is specifically geared toward those who are new to recovery. An IOP allows clients to receive the same intensive drug treatment services while living in a sober living home.

      Intensive outpatient programs feature one-on-one counseling as well as group therapy sessions. An IOP may also have a 12-Step-based component. In these types of programs, participants are highly encouraged to attend 12-Step meetings or other recovery support groups.

      Addiction treatment professionals typically recommend that clients leaving drug and alcohol treatment enroll in IOP upon discharge. This continuum of care strengthens the client’s access to recovery resources and can improve their chances of achieving lasting, long-term sobriety.

      Sober Living and IOP Can Help You Establish a Routine After Drug Rehab

      Programs like sober living and IOP not only provide recovery support resources and a safe place to live, but they also help residents establish a manageable routine for daily life.

      Routine is defined as a prescribed, detailed, course of action to be followed regularly. For most people, a routine is a set of tasks that they perform regularly. For example, those who practice the 12-Steps are asked to meditate before starting the day, and before bed, they are asked to thoroughly review their day. This is a great example of what it looks like to have a healthy and intentional routine.

      In early recovery, there may be occasions where you have to deviate from your daily routine, but having an established routine will provide a general structure for each day. A routine also provides structure and accountability, which are key to lasting sobriety.

      Where to Live After Rehab: Making the Right Choice

      There are many reasons to return home or move into a sober living home, but only you can determine which choice is the right decision for you. If you’re uneasy about sobriety when leaving treatment and you don’t know where to live after rehab, a sober living home may be the best way to abstain from all drug and alcohol use and gain some sobriety experience before re-entering society on your own. If you recently completed rehab and you need additional recovery support, please contact Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today to speak with an admissions specialist.


      1. Polcin, D., Korcha, R., Bond, J., & Galloway, G. (2010, December 1). What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here? Retrieved October 17, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057870/
      2. Schinka, J., Hughes, P., Coletti, S., Hamilton, N., Renard, C., Urmann, C., & Neri, R. (1999, March 1). Changes in Personality Characteristics in Women Treated in a Therapeutic Community. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740547298000191
      3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2012, February 27). Drug-Free Housing for Substance Abusers Leaving Detox Linked to Fewer Relapses – 02/27/2012. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/drug_free_housing_for_substance_abusers_leaving_detox_linked_to_fewer_relapses
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