The statistics regarding the success of sober living communities are powerful and hard to ignore. For example, in a study of a community for women and children, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, researchers found that 63 percent of female participants were sober when the four-year study was completed. This seems to suggest that sober facilities provide ample opportunities for people to change their behaviors and really take charge of their lives.
But are sober living communities right for everyone?
While the communities can help some people to make big changes, there are some people who might do just as well in their homes, surrounded by the people they love. While there are no hard-and-fast rules that can help people decide whether or not they need sober living, there are a few groups of people who do stand to benefit from the help a community like this can provide. These are just a few characteristics that might describe those people.
Addictions can tear families apart, and sometimes, the group is left so torn and tattered that they might even be considered dysfunctional. For example, in a study in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, researchers suggest that families of people with heroin addictions can be extremely chaotic, with fathers who turn toward alcohol and siblings who also abuse drugs. When these addicted children leave their homes, they tend to recreate the pattern in their adult lives, marrying addicted people and raising children who use, researchers suggest. It’s a small study, and it might not apply to all people who use and abuse drugs, but it does seem to suggest that some people with addictions live in homes that just aren’t safe and that can’t be considered protective in terms of substance abuse. If these people return home, drugs and alcohol might be easily accessible, and the destructive forces of the family might entice a person to return to substance use and abuse.
Many of these issues can be addressed in intensive family therapy sessions, and if the damage is too extensive and the group simply cannot heal together, addicted people can build new lives in which their families play a smaller role. But this work takes time, and it’s often not complete when a person leaves an addiction treatment program. A sober community can allow a person to get stronger, and the family can work toward its healing, while the addicted person has a safe place in which to live.
Addictions can strike anyone at any time, but some neighborhoods are considered more dangerous in terms of addiction. These neighborhoods might:
Some neighborhoods even glamorize addiction, and the community members apply pressure that could force people into a life of drugs. For example, in a study of Chicana drug users published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, researchers found that girls are sometimes pushed into youth gangs, in which drug use is common, and they begin a deviant lifestyle that revolves around drugs. If these users return to their communities upon the termination of a treatment program, they might experience the same pressure to return to their activity, and they might relapse as a result.
A sober living community allows people like this to form a new network of friends, in a safe place that doesn’t allow substance use or abuse, so they can break their connection with a community that doesn’t support their newfound recovery. Some communities even help graduates to find new places to live, so they don’t ever have to return to their former danger zones. It could be vital to the recovery of some people.
In order to stay sober, people often need a community of like-minded peers. These friends can participate in sober activities, and they might be willing to lend an ear when the recovery process seems difficult or even impossible. Those who continue to abuse substances might have good intentions, but they may not be safe people for an addicted person to spend time with. In a study in the Journal of Addictions Nursing, researchers suggest that making connections that are healthy and developing strong relationships are associated with success in maintaining sobriety and achieving a long-term addiction recovery.
Those who can make these sorts of strong ties find it easier to resist the lure of drugs, while those who don’t have a community might slide back into bad habits with ease.
Some sober living communities encourage communal living. People may have their own private sleeping spaces, but they might share food prep areas and they might eat in cafeteria-style dining rooms. They get to know their neighbors, and they may even make friends. It’s not uncommon for residents to develop very close ties, feeling as though the residents are members of their extended family. This kind of connectedness may be just what people in recovery might need, and a sober living community with a communal living style makes these sorts of connections a little easier to make. Everyone who lives there is committed to the sober lifestyle, and everyone wants to get better. It’s just a little easier to make sober friends in an environment like this. Those who have no sober friends at all, and who don’t know how they might find sober friends, might really benefit from living in a home like this.
Some people develop addictions late in life, and when they enter treatment programs, they have only a few years of bad habits to overcome. There are some people, however, who have a completely different response to addiction. As researchers in the journal Substance Use and Misuse put it, these people might view their addictions as a form of work, and when they’re freed from their addictions, they might go through the same kinds of sensations experienced by the unemployed. They might feel:
People like this might relapse to drug use simply due to sheer force of habit. Prior to treatment, they filled the day with drug use. During treatment, they focused on stopping drug use. When treatment is over, they have no idea about where the focus of life should be. A sober living community can help, as these facilities provide clients with a significant amount of structure. They have tasks to complete and a schedule for their time. They don’t have to worry about how to fill the time, as the program tells them how things should progress. It’s intense help for people with long-term histories involving addiction, but anyone who feels at loose ends at the termination of treatment might benefit from the structure of a sober community.
While sober living communities are considered vital for specific groups of people, it’s worth mentioning that almost anyone can benefit from the help a facility like this can provide. In fact, it might even be safe to say that people who think they might like a community like this really should give the programs a try. They’re safe and sober, and they provide a transition from treatment to home life. This is the kind of thing almost anyone might need, and it’s worth investigating.
If you’d like to know more about sober living, or you need assistance in finding a program that might be right for you, please call us. We’re happy to search our database and look for a program that could meet your needs.