Sober living (sometimes referred to as a halfway house) is a facility addicts and alcoholics live in as they transition back into society. It is usually the last phase before addicts and alcoholics become completely independent, and therefore it is of vital importance.
About Sober Living/Halfway Houses
Most often, this phase of treatment follows inpatient treatment. At this point, an addict will have been detoxed, received therapy and medication, and will be relatively stabilized. The purpose of sober living is to facilitate an addict’s transition from treatment to the outside world by providing a semblance of structure and security that is nevertheless less intense than inpatient itself.
How Sober Living Works
Most of the time, halfway houses are actual houses. That is, they are usually domiciles that look like any other house from the outside. They are located within regular neighborhoods and are not fenced off or otherwise distinct from the surrounding area.
In a typical sober living program, residents are given much more freedom than any other kind of treatment. How they spend their time is up to them, with the clear exceptions of:
- No drinking or using drugs
- No weapons or anything that would endanger other residents
- Nothing inappropriate such as hiring prostitutes, frequenting strip clubs, or going to bars
Residents are usually required to find a job upon moving into a halfway house. If they are not employed, they will be expected to spend their free time searching for employment. Most halfway houses also mandate participation in a 12 step program or some other recovery process. They must go to meetings, and often prove their attendance by having meeting slips signed.
The day-to-day operations of halfway houses are overseen by house managers. These men and women enforce the rules, which may include:
- Meeting curfew – sometimes there is a probationary period with an earlier curfew
- Doing chores such as cleaning and washing, etc.
- Submitting to drug tests, which are usually random
Why Sober Living is So Important
Sober living is important because it is the final stage of the treatment process. Each phase of treatment has its area of specialization: detox stabilizes, while inpatient treatment helps maintain sobriety. At a halfway house, the focus is maintaining sobriety while also living in the “real world.” Chores, working a job, etc. teach residents valuable life skills and also hold them accountable.
Sober living is especially important because it allows addicts to apply what they have learned in treatment in real time, all while offering them a safe and secure environment. It is not enough to simply learn about anger management, communication, and relapse prevention. These skills and techniques must be applied. At halfway houses, residents are able to apply them as they make their final transition into independence and a new life.