Before a person, new to recovery, is dropped back into the unregulated, unguided, ocean of society, there is a place where one gets to just breathe for a while. One gets to be with others who fully understand and share their dilemma. The concerns of job, home and family may be different but the primary alert, “STAY SOBER,” is shared. The new life with a new community of shared sobriety is just beginning and the Sober Living House is their safe zone. It is the solid bridge of old and new that is based in camaraderie.
This is the place where secrets are told and hopes are nourished. Fears are identified and, possibly, the worst has been loosened in preparation for leaving it behind. The great equalizer of mutual addictions builds a home unlike any other. It is where everyone has the same task. Pen to paper; dreams drawn, plans made, the Sober Living House is where new lives are designed.
The National Institutes of Health states that there is a direct correlation between success or failure based on time spent on this halfway bridge from old to new. Drug and alcohol addicts who have the opportunity to be a part of a Sober Living House have a much higher chance of breaking old patterns, creating new lives and not experience a relapse. Moving directly from total immersion residential care facilities, with no safe zone in the middle, to their previous environment, people resume what they know and are more susceptible to recidivism.
There comes a time in the immersion of a regulated facility when the client needs to be discharged. It is not only due to the prohibitive cost but also to prevent new dependency on intensive therapy. This pause on the way home, the Sober Living House gives one a place to design a plan and start building a new life. Calls are made, meetings are planned, a sponsor might be obtained; a fresh start comes into focus.
Sober Living Houses are traditionally known as halfway houses. They are integral in several modalities, such as reentering society from prison or homelessness. They are designed specifically to arm the graduating client with a tool belt, time to assemble their tools and a create a plan for success. This intermediate stopover is actually the client’s workshop to build their new sober life. Instead of the formal regulated treatment of a residential house, it is a collective of both peers and professionals skilled in reentry.
TOOLS for REENTRY
Job Search: resumes, applications, possibly applying for federal assistance.
Housing Search: returning to the previous home or finding a new one.
Family Outreach: working the steps, making amends, repairing what can be repaired.
New Community: locating help in their hometown, schedule of meetings, looking for a sponsor.
Facing the Future: group and private sessions about facing a new sober life.
At this point, there has already been a great accomplishment in passing through detox and the intensive therapy of an inpatient environment. The Sober Living House is the next step in this building process of living life in an whole new way. Time spent with fellow addicts who are doing the same work of rebuilding their lives offers an opportunity to both receive and give support. Now the true recovery shines in service to others who have the same tasks, same fears and same hopes.
In 2010, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published their findings that structured halfway houses gave residents a far greater chance of success. They were significantly less likely to experience relapse. Moreover, they increased their chances for the positive outcome of success in jobs, home, family and community.
Whole Life Recovery offers a strong Sober Living House model. Residents are individually and collectively responsible for the fellowship. This is a temporary family united in a shared mission; to develop plans and skills for a new authentic, fulfilling, and rewarding life. Supported by therapists, social workers, nutritionist but, most importantly, one another; their Sober Living House is their bridge to success.