Sober Living Dos and Don’ts

soberlivinghomeIn the early stages of the recovery process, people in treatment make very few independent choices. Their treatment teams manage almost every aspect of their recovery, from start to finish, and they’re not really expected to do much more than follow directions. As sobriety takes hold, however, people are given more freedom to relax, spread their wings and really explore what recovery means to them. Sometimes, this freedom can be a little intimidating, and people might worry that they’ll make mistakes and somehow fall back into their old thinking patterns and destructive behaviors.

Sober living homes can help, as the rules involved in these facilities provide people with a template they can follow in order to develop a healthy and balanced life.

By just following the rules, people will be well on the way to a robust recovery. But really succeeding in a home like this means more than simply following rules. In fact, there are some dos and don’ts that can make participation in a sober living home even more meaningful.

Do Listen and Learn

Sober living homes are full of a new kind of resource that could be vital in the fight for sobriety: understanding peers. Everyone who lives in a home like this has a personal story of addiction and recovery, full of both trials and successes. While most residents aren’t therapists, and they’re not interested in providing fulltime support to just one person, they are likely willing to discuss their personal histories and provide a few tips that might help other residents to stay on track. Listening and learning could be a great way to make sobriety stick.

Do Look for Work

working while in sober livingThe time spent in a sober living home can be transformative, involving a significant amount of peer connection, but residents are often required to leave the home on a daily basis in order to do work in the community. Often, having a job is considered vital for the person’s long-term sobriety. For example, in a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse, researchers suggest that men who enter sober living homes often have a history of selling drugs, while women who enroll in these homes have a history of writing checks that bounce. Both of the men and women in these studies will struggle with money in recovery, if they don’t learn new habits, and a steady job could make that happen.

Working provides a steady source of income that could be used to keep a home running and keep stress levels at bay. Holding down a job can also provide people with:

  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Validation from a boss
  • A way to fill the time
  • Peers who are focused on something other than drugs or alcohol

Holding down a job could provide a person with money, and it can also just make the rest of life a little easier.

Do Support Physical Healing

Addictions can lead to sore muscles, aching bones and general stiffness. They can also be time-consuming affairs that leave people unable to focus on maintaining their nutritional levels, physical fitness or overall health. The discomfort that can result from longstanding abuse can leave people prone to drug abuse and alcohol abuse, as people look for any kind of remedy for the misery they’re facing. Engaging in a fitness program could be a big help, as here, people might learn more about how to exercise safely while keeping their physical health intact.

Getting a good night’s sleep, eating a healthful diet and visiting the doctor on a regular basis could also be part of the addiction healing process, and they should be part of the week’s planning for people who live in sober homes.

Do Speak Up in House Meetings

A study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment suggests that most sober homes encourage residents to participate in 12-Step support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. In addition, however, most homes have weekly meetings in which residents come together to discuss issues that pertain to the house. This provides residents with an excellent opportunity to discuss any issue that might be bothering them, including other residents who might be breaking the rules or otherwise injecting a hostile note into the home.

It can be difficult to discuss issues like this openly, as many people in recovery find the idea of conflict difficult, and they may struggle to express their emotions without tapping into feelings of anger.

Not speaking up means tamping those feelings down, however, and that can make angry emotions even harder to control. They tend to grow stronger unless they’re addressed, and a house meeting provides the perfect forum for this kind of healing.

Do Make Inroads with Neighbors

Just as residents need to make good connections with one another, they might need to build strong ties with the other people who live nearby. A study in the journal Addiction Research and Theory suggests that people who live near sober living homes tend to appreciate them more if the residents of these sober homes focus on being good neighbors by enforcing the rules and doing community service projects. By showing that they care about the environment, and they’re not planning on trashing the neighborhood, residents of sober homes can put their neighbors at ease and make the whole community a nicer place to live. Even simple acts like smiling at neighbors and sharing a friendly word can make these community members feel more comfortable with the idea of sharing space with people in recovery.

Don’t Solve the Problems of Others

sober livingWhile conflicts can sometimes arise in sober homes, some residents have an experience that’s entirely positive. Living in a sober home can be intense, and the friendships can be strong and powerful. In fact, a study in the journal Qualitative Health Research suggests that people who live in homes like this develop such close ties that they form a sort of family, and often, those ties persist even when people move out of the home. Leaning on others and providing help in return is just part of what makes a sober home so very powerful. However, it can be tempting to become so emotionally involved in the lives of others that the needs of the self are forgotten. It’s vital to remember that each resident is on a personal journey and must find his or her own path to healing. Being supportive is acceptable, but attempting to take over or force the person to behave in a specific way is counterproductive, both to the person doing the helping and the target of that help.

Don’t Leave Too Early

As much as a sober home might work to provide a safe and soothing environment in a supportive neighborhood, most residents agree that living in their own homes might be preferable. They might miss familiar surroundings, cherished mementos and the sense of privacy that independent living can provide. Sometimes, people are tempted to leave their sober homes within weeks of their arrival, simply because they miss their homes and want to go back. It’s understandable, but living at home isn’t always the best choice for people in recovery.

They have lessons to learn and new habits to make, and a sober home might provide the best place in which to take those steps. Leaving early should be avoided at all costs.

Don’t Fight

sober livingSometimes, homesickness, frustration and anxiety build to such a degree that little things seem absolutely intolerable. Small events that take hold in a sober home could push people right over the edge, such as:

  • A neighbor who borrows possessions without asking
  • A resident who leaves the kitchen filthy on a regular basis
  • Someone who tries to dominate all group sessions
  • Neighbors who play their music a bit too loudly

Emotional regulation is difficult for some people in recovery, and they might be tempted to lash out with physical demonstrations of their anger and worry. It’s understandable, but this is the kind of behavior that can lead to expulsion. Fighting is never the right answer.

Don’t Give Up

If you’re ready to start working on your sobriety, please browse our database of sober homes. We’ve verified all of these facilities, and we’ve provided a significant amount of detail about each option available. You can also call us for personalized help.