An Integrated Approach to Young Adult Mental Health Rehab

What to Expect in a Sober Living Home for Young Adults

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A sober living community can be a great solution for young adults who are in recovery. In a supportive and caring sober living home, young people can build strong connections with peers while learning to live independently.

When researching how to choose a sober living home, it’s helpful to have an understanding of what to expect in this environment, as well as the research-backed benefits of such homes.

What Is a Sober Living Home?

As the name implies, the primary requirement of a sober living community is abstaining from drugs and alcohol while residing in the home. Sober living houses do not offer formal treatment of any type, but residents are usually required or strongly encouraged to attend 12-Step group programs or outpatient treatment. Moreover, these homes typically have a set of house rules that everyone living there must follow.

Know the Facts

Research shows that sober living communities have a measurable positive impact on residents. Such homes are proven to be effective in helping people find employment, avoid problems with the law, and, most importantly, stay substance free and maintain good mental health.

Many individuals choose sober homes as way to adjust back to daily life after residential treatment for young adults addressing substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Because this transition can be challenging, sober living homes provide a supportive way for young adults to reenter the “real world.” In a sober living community, young people have a sense of structure and support, while also experiencing freedom and choice. Sober living homes are sometimes called halfway houses, although there are some differences between the two, which are explained below.

Research shows that sober living communities have a measurable positive impact on residents. Such homes are proven to be effective in helping people find employment, avoid problems with the law, and, most importantly, stay substance free and maintain good mental health.

Benefits of Sober Living for Young Adults

Sober living situations offer many benefits for young people who are embarking on the next stage of life. Here are some of the most significant benefits of sober living for young adults.

  • Relapse prevention: Because everyone in the home is committed to staying sober, this positive peer motivation supports young adults to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
  • Authentic connection: Residents often form strong friendships as a result of their shared experiences and the time spent together.
  • Building accountability: For some young adults, a sober home is their first experience of living independently. Hence, they gain responsibility and daily living skills—for example, paying their own rent and bills and buying their own food.
  • Making lasting lifestyle changes: Because everyone is focused on the goals of staying sober and healthy, this environment supports the new self-care habits and self-awareness acquired during treatment.

Moreover, sober houses provide a safe and supportive home life while young adults are taking the next steps in their recovery journey. This might include finding a job, exploring academic options, and/or repairing relationships with friends and family members that were damaged as a result of substance abuse.

What to Expect in a Sober Living Home

There are different types of sober living homes, which may have slightly different structures, populations, or expectations. For example, there are sober living homes for women and others that are solely for men. Just as gender-specific treatment for mental health and substance abuse is proven to be effective, many experts believe that a gender-specific sober living homes are more supportive for a young adult in recovery. For young adults who are heterosexual, mixed-gender homes can create distractions and complications. Moreover, it’s often easier for men and women to express their emotions honestly within single-gender environments.

In most homes, residents have their own room or share a room. In addition, they share the bathrooms, kitchen, and other communal living spaces. There are some sober living communities in which residents each have their own apartment within a complex, though this is not as common. Furthermore, residents pay their share of the rent and expenses. Therefore, finding a job is usually part of the process for young adults moving into the community.

Most young adults experience some level of stress as they return to academic or work life after treatment. Therefore, if they are moving into a sober living home, it’s helpful for them to have a post-treatment or after-care plan that will help them flourish in this new environment. For example, an after-care plan includes ways to stay on track with the goals achieved in treatment. Moreover, it supports individuals to identify triggers for substance abuse and find alternative ways to cope with stress or difficult emotions. Following an after-care plan is often easier in a sober living community because everyone is doing similar recovery work as they strive to become healthier and happier.  

The Difference Between a Halfway House and a Sober Living Home

Sober living homes are sometimes referred to as halfway houses. What the two have in common is that residents must maintain sobriety. Moreover, both types of homes can serve as transitional living arrangements following residential, or inpatient, treatment. But there are some minor differences between the two.

For one, a halfway house usually has a limit for the amount of time a resident can stay, while sober living communities do not. In most sober homes, individuals can stay for as long as they wish, providing that they continue to abide by the house rules. Research shows that longer stays support residents in maintaining sobriety.

Sober living homes are sometimes referred to as halfway houses. What the two have in common is that residents must maintain sobriety. Moreover, both types of homes can serve as transitional living arrangements following residential, or inpatient, treatment.

Furthermore, halfway houses are specifically for people who have just completed treatment. By contrast, some sober living communities accept residents who have not attended residential treatment but choose to live in an alcohol- and drug-free environment.

House Rules for Sober Living Homes

Along with maintaining sobriety, residents of sober living homes are required to comply with the house rules. Sober living for young adults includes abiding by rules such as the following:

  • Contributing to household maintenance by cleaning and helping with meal preparation when residents eat together
  • Attending house meetings
  • Dealing with conflicts within the house through peaceful mediation and discussion
  • Obeying a set curfew
  • Not bringing products into the house that contain any type of alcohol, such as vanilla or mouthwash
  • Establishing a regular schedule that includes going to work or school during the day
  • Refraining from violence of any kind
  • Attending 12-Step meetings or outpatient treatment (not always required)
  • Paying rent and other fees.

Violation of the rules results in some type of consequence, which may range from making amends to another resident, paying a fine, or even writing an essay about what happened and how the resident intends to address it going forward. However, if a violation is significant enough or is repeated time and again, a resident may be asked to leave the community.

How to Choose a Sober Living Home

To find a sober living home that will work well for you or a loved one, there are some important things to consider. Here are some of the features of the best sober living homes:

  • The building is well cared for
  • Drug testing is required on a regular basis
  • If it is a mixed-gender home, separate bathrooms and living quarters are provided for each gender
  • A set of safety and privacy guidelines is in place, including a ban on violence and weapons of any kind, and a code of conduct prohibiting abusive language and behavior
  • There are clear house rules and clear consequences for rule violations
  • Regular inspections are made to ensure that the home meets high standards of quality
  • Staff, such as the manager for the house, are certified and licensed.

Moreover, when choosing a sober living home, young adults might want to inquire whether they can have a car at the house, whether guests are permitted, and if there are restrictions on phone or internet use.

In conclusion, sober living for young adults offers evidence-based support in avoiding relapse, establishing a healthy lifestyle, and creating a sense of connection and belonging. To learn more about substance abuse treatment at Newport Institute, contact our Admissions experts today.

Sources

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment, 16(3), 138-150.

J Psychoactive Drugs. 2010 Dec; 42(4): 425–433.

Treatment / November 11, 2020 / by Newport Institute

Newport Institute

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