If you have recently completed an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab program, you may be thinking about enrolling in a transitional housing program to continue your recovery journey. While there are many different options to choose from across the country, it may not always be easy to determine which one is the best choice for you.
As you begin your search for a sober living home, there are six primary characteristics that we believe are extremely important and will help ensure that you receive the highest quality care possible while you continue your recovery journey.
- Recovery support services
Having a supportive place to live and stay sober is an essential part of maintaining your sobriety, but recovery support services also play an important role in that. According to the National Institute on Substance Abuse (NIDA), recovery support services are those that provide a setting where fellow peers in recovery can share their experiences and provide mutual support.1 These services are designed to help individuals establish wellness, manage their symptoms, and achieve and maintain abstinence.
A high-quality sober living program will provide access to peer recovery groups such as 12-step groups or non-12-Step support groups. These types of groups provide essential peer support and accountability in the early stages of sobriety. Many residents at a sober living home are already familiar with the 12-Step Program before they enter sober living due to exposure in rehab, but some are not. A sober living program can help introduce unfamiliar clients to local recovery meetings, provide opportunities to connect with like-minded peers, and help clients establish a healthy habit of attending these meetings regularly for their own benefit.
Sober living homes also often provide recovery support programs that help clients adjust to daily life sober after they complete rehab. Examples of some common recovery support services that are available at sober living homes include:
- Structured and individualized recovery programming
- Employment assistance
- Volunteer placement
- Educational planning
- Certified peer monitoring
- Drug and alcohol testing
Many times programs like these also incorporate the assistance of a mentor or sober coach, who is also in recovery and who will walk with clients through the struggles and challenges of early sobriety.
- Organized accountability
Maintaining long-term sobriety requires accountability and the assistance of others. One of the primary functions of a high-quality sober living home is to keep clients accountable to their sobriety goals with regular, scheduled interventions.
If you’re searching for a transitional living program that will help you stay focused on your sobriety, it is wise to consider programs that do the following things:
- Provide regular drug and alcohol testing: Frequent testing ensures ongoing accountability and a safe, sober living environment for all. This means you’ll have one more reason not to give in to cravings and you won’t be faced with the tempting presence of addictive substances in your home.
- Host weekly house meetings: Regularly meeting with your peers in recovery offers yet another layer of accountability and ensures that all residents have an opportunity to discuss their progress, goals, and any issues they are facing.
- Require that you meet certain program requirements as you progress through your sober living program: Successfully reintegrating back into society involves certain things like finding stable employment, participating in regular structured activities, and developing healthy daily habits like completing chores or meditating. Structured sober living homes require these things to help you establish a daily routine that will fuel a long-lasting sober lifestyle.
- Require that you maintain regular communication with your sober coach, program coordinator, or another mentor figure: Communicating with your sober mentors regularly will ensure that you have the support you need to manage difficult emotions, cravings, triggers, and high-risk situations as you reintegrate back into society.
A transitional housing program that provides this type of organized accountability is most likely run by an organization that understands the complex needs of individuals in recovery and has the resources to meet those needs. On the other hand, if a sober living only provides basic housing, you may want to look elsewhere for additional support.
- Employment and education assistance
While you were actively addicted, there were most likely many aspects of your life that suffered, including your employment status. Whether you quit your job, were let go, or you were continually struggling to perform under the influence, now you have the opportunity to turn over a new leaf as you pursue a healthier lifestyle in recovery.
Finding and maintaining employment can be difficult after leaving rehab, so it’s important to find a sober living program that will provide employment assistance programs. These services are often provided to help men and women in recovery:
- Create a resume or update an old one
- Locate local employment opportunities that align with individual skills and experience
- Submit applications
- Preparing for interviews
As you adjust to a new sober life, you may also decide that you want to complete your formal education or go back to school to complete a program for a new career. Many sober living homes offer educational planning, which may include assistance in the following areas:
- Researching educational program options
- Applying for admission into a program
- Creating a plan to achieve short-term and long-term educational goals
Employment and education are both essential to establishing a healthy, fulfilling sober lifestyle as these factors will help you regain financial stability and create a new life for yourself. In the process, you’ll also develop a new sense of purpose as you fill your life with meaningful activities and goals that will help to a new and unfamiliar lifestyle more manageable and enjoyable.
Safety should always be the utmost priority for any transitional housing program. And as an individual in recovery, both you and your family will want to make sure that you’ll be safe at all times throughout your transitional living program. High-quality sober living houses ensure the safety of residents in several different ways.
- Proper staffing: Sober living homes should provide off and on-site support staff that is readily available to help residents resolve issues, address any concerns, and take care of administrative tasks to keep the home running smoothly. Many sober living homes have house managers who live on-site with the residents to ensure that the home is running smoothly and that everyone is adhering to the household rules and regulations.
- Substance-free living environment: Ensuring that a sober living home remains free of all addictive substances is an essential part of making sure it is safe for all residents. By maintaining a sober household, residents are much less likely to relapse due to repeated exposure to substances, cravings, and high-risk living situations. They are also unlikely to experience any drug-related stress, crime, or violence at home.
- Strict enforcement of rules: Sober living homes have a strict set of rules that are designed to protect the health and well-being of all residents and improve the likelihood that they will remain sober. Having confidence that staff members will enforce household rules and hold residents accountable contributes to the overall safety and comfort of the home.
- A screening process for new residents: Sober living homes that thoroughly screen all new residents are much more likely to maintain a safe environment for current residents and staff. By implementing a thorough screening process, staff can ensure that new residents are committed to a lifestyle of sobriety, are likely to maintain peaceful relationships with others, and are not an immediate threat or danger to current residents.
- Safe location: High-quality sober living homes are generally located in safe, residential neighborhoods that contribute to residents’ overall quality of life by providing access to nearby employment opportunities, opportunities to get involved in the community, and drug-free recreational activities. If a sober living home is located in an area with a high crime rate and a lot of drug activity, residents may be faced with more stress that can contribute to relapse.
- No weapons allowed: Weapons such as guns or knives should not be allowed in the sober living home at any time. This helps ensure the ongoing physical safety of all residents, staff, and visitors.
Having a safe and sober place to live is one of the four major dimensions that support a life in recovery, so safety should always be a top priority when selecting a sober living home.
- Well-maintained accommodations
The outward appearance of a sober living house is often a reflection of the care and support you will receive while enrolled. A high-quality sober living home should provide a clean, updated living environment with comfortable beds and furniture, fully functional appliances, adequate space for its residents, and a structurally sound facility.
Additionally, you should always feel comfortable in any transitional living home you choose. Otherwise, you are unlikely to feel at home there. Take your time looking through pictures of available sober living homes online, and if you can, try to schedule an in-person visit or tour of the facility before you commit to full-time residency. This may help you get a feel for what it would be like to live at the sober living home for an extended time.
If you choose to visit a sober living home before committing to residency, some red flags to watch for may include:
- An overall dirty or unkempt appearance
- A structurally unsafe building
- Signs of an insect or rodent infestation
- Untrained or uncertified staff
- Appliances in disrepair
- Broken windows, walls, or doors
- Less than adequate lighting within the interior and exterior of the home
- Bathrooms and/or kitchens that are not in working condition
- Sleeping arrangements that are located in a garage or shed
- Does not submit to regular inspections
- No admissions requirements or resident records
- No household rules
- Does not require abstinence or regular drug testing
If, after your tour, you don’t feel like you will be able to thrive in a particular sober living home, it’s okay to continue your search elsewhere. There are many different sober living homes to choose from and it’s worth the time and effort to find one that best suits your needs, preferences, and budget. If you need recommendations, consult with the treatment specialists at your rehab center, talk with your counselor or therapist, or ask your sponsor for recommendations.
- Cultural awareness and competency
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that, to support the recovery of an individual, addiction services must be culturally aware and competent. This includes consistently putting the following behaviors and practices into place:2
- Being responsive and respectful to the unique beliefs, practices, and needs of diverse individuals
- Actively addressing diversity while providing sober living services
- Seeking to reduce any differences in access and outcomes
Simply put, when a sober living program provides services that are culturally aware and competent, it provides services that are sensitive to the unique needs and beliefs of a wide range of people groups and cultures. This ensures that the sober living home will continually be an environment of understanding, acceptance, and inclusivity, which are important characteristics that contribute to lasting sobriety and recovery.
For example, traditional sober living homes may not cater to the needs and concerns of an individual who identifies with the LGBTQ+ community. As a result, if you are an individual that identifies as LGBTQ+, you may not feel comfortable in a traditional sober living environment or it may not meet your sobriety needs.
To address this issue, many sober living homes offer LGBTQ+ sober living homes that are designed to address the unique needs of the population while also providing recovery support services that are geared toward LGBTQ+ individuals.
Find a Transitional Living Home That’s Right for You
We understand that choosing a transitional living program can be an overwhelming decision, but you don’t have to make the decision alone. Eudaimonia Recovery Homes provides all of the above qualities and more and our admissions specialists are happy to answer all questions you have about our sober living programs. We offer transitional living homes in Austin, Houston, Chicago, and Colorado Springs and we are always available to speak with you about your options. Please call today to get started.