After rehab, many sober people enroll in a sober living program to receive additional support as they transition out of rehab and into a more independent lifestyle. Living sober on your own for the first time can be challenging, but sober living homes provide one-on-one support in a safe, sober, and supportive living environment. They are often an essential part of the treatment process for people who are not yet ready to face the everyday stressors of life in recovery.
While living in a sober home can be advantageous for people in all stages of recovery, at a certain point, a person must move on and live independently in sobriety. The amount of time spent living at a sober living home will vary greatly from person to person, but there are some clear signs that may indicate a person is ready to move on to the next stage in recovery.
How Long Should I Stay at a Sober Living Home?
To answer this question simply: If you are still benefitting from the recovery support services your sober living home offers and you are financially able to continue living there, doing so will only provide more positive benefits in recovery.
It’s not uncommon to wonder how long you should stay at a sober living home, especially if this is your first recovery experience. However, instead of focusing on the length of your stay, it’s more important to take note of the benefits you’re receiving and how those are currently affecting your life in recovery.
Peer support is always necessary for recovery, but the first few weeks, months, and years of sobriety are often the most vulnerable. Staying at a sober living home throughout this time will allow you to establish a strong support system in recovery, develop resilience in sobriety, internalize new habits and routines that will bolster your sobriety and prevent relapse.
Longer Stay, More Sobriety Benefits
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, good treatment outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length.1 This means that although “adequate treatment length” will vary depending on the person’s needs, treatment history, and dedication to the program itself, the more time a person spends in a formal treatment program, the more likely they are to achieve lifelong sobriety.
Additionally, research supports the idea that living in a sober home provides many benefits for people in recovery. In fact, one study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs determined that residents of sober living homes experienced fewer problems with substance abuse, had better employment rates and fewer arrests, and maintained more stable housing arrangements after leaving their sober living home.2 All of these things are essential to a successful life of sobriety outside of a formal treatment program.
When it’s all said and done, there’s no perfect length of time a person should stay at a sober living home. Generally speaking, a person who identifies with any of the following factors may benefit from a longer stay:
- A lack of sobriety support at home
- Multiple relapses
- Medical or mental health issues
- A history of resistance to treatment
Staying at a sober living home for several months or year does not mean you have failed or that you’re any less capable than those of your peers who may have moved on before you. Addiction recovery is a highly individualized process and each person’s journey is very much a personal experience that must unfold in their own time.
What is the Average Length of Stay at a Sober Living Home?
As a resident of a sober living home, you are allowed to stay as long as you need or want, assuming you are financially able and you continue to abide by the program rules. However, according to the study referenced earlier in this article, the average length of stay at a sober living home was somewhere between 166 and 254 days.2
When Should I Leave My Sober Living Home?
If you feel like you might be ready to leave your sober living home and move on to a more independent living situation, your treatment team can weigh in and help you determine if you’re ready to take that next step. If you and your treatment team both agree that you’re ready to leave your sober living home, they can help you plan for your move and ensure that it is a positive and successful step for your sobriety.
A few signs that you might be ready to leave your sober living home are:
- You have remained sober for a respectable amount of time. You have maintained your sobriety and you feel comfortable and capable of coping with cravings, triggers, and temptations.
- You have a sober, safe and supportive place to live after you leave. You have arranged to move in with sober peers, friends, or family, or you are financially able and ready to live on your own. This living situation has been secured and you are ready to make the transition.
- You feel confident in your ability to avoid and/or deal with relapse. When you think about leaving your sober living home you don’t feel overly anxious and you are confident that you will be able to manage the stressors and difficulties of everyday life without relapsing. If you do relapse, you know how you will handle it and who you will contact immediately.
- You have a structured plan for how you will spend your time. You plan to work a full-time or part-time job, attend school, or otherwise fill your free time with activities that are productive and helpful for your recovery goals.
- You have arranged for continued treatment. You are enrolled in some type of aftercare program or alumni group and you have committed to attending local 12-step groups, doing H&I work, and/or going to therapy.
- You have goals for your ongoing recovery. You know that your recovery journey is far from over and you have short-term and long-term goals for your sobriety that you believe will enhance your life and recovery in positive ways.
- You have established a strong support system of sober people. You have a sponsor and/or sober coach, you have developed healthy relationships with sober peers, and you are committed to growing your support circle as you continue with your treatment.
If you are considering leaving a sober home soon or you’re curious about how long you should stay at your sober home, it’s a good idea to consult with your treatment team. They can provide helpful feedback on your progress, suggestions on how you can continue making progress, and help you determine the next steps for your own personal recovery journey.