Safe boundaries are essential when building new sobriety. Although we encourage clients to spend as much time here as needed, residential care eventually comes to an end. We help all clients with this transition by creating a thorough discharge plan. The first step is to build a safe, healthy, and sober environment outside of our walls. New Start recommends that clients continue their recovery in an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) while residing at a sober living home.
A Supportive Environment
It’s best to be surrounded with people who share your goals. Sober living houses help keep clients accountable after detox and residential care is over.
For many individuals, especially those continuing with IOP, sober living is the ideal environment. These managed homes provide accountability through rule structures. A typical sober living facility will be a multiple bedroom house located in a suburb, much like a family home. They are filled with other addicts and alcoholics who are also in recovery. That’s a good thing! It means all members of the house share the goal of sobriety.
Although each sober living arrangement is unique, good quality ones share certain features.
What to Expect
Most relapses and general debauchery happen in the late hours of the night. To circumvent this, managers enforce strict curfews. It keeps relapse rates lower and promotes responsible, functional behavior.
Ever heard of “AA meeting cards” mandated by courts for people who have alcohol problems? Sober living homes have these too. Many homes will offer at least one in-house meeting with all the housemates.
It might sound like it sucks, but random drug testing is actually a great way to stay accountable. There’s less temptation to “relapse on the sly” when you know that a random test may give you away.
Why Sober Living Helps
This environment is very beneficial to those leaving residential treatment. Think of sober living as the next stepping stone toward living in the “real” world. Recovery usually requires addicts to live in a sort of bubble where the stressors and temptations are kept at bay. Many sober livings offer a welcoming environment of other sober individuals looking to support each other on the path to recovery.
Safe Environment Checklist
IOP is a less intensive form of treatment than residential care. Clients live offsite and go to their IOP treatment center for group and sometimes individual therapy. The structure of these programs varies greatly, but most IOPs range from 6-16 weeks before entering a maintenance phase.
While attending an IOP the individual would also be encouraged to participate in a fellowship such as a traditional AA/NA 12 step program. For some, SMART Recovery and Celebrate Recovery are also supportive programs to guide individuals on the path to recovery.
Follow the Process (It Works)
We understand that for functional addicts and alcoholics, life gets busy. It’s tempting to skip residential and go straight to IOP so you don’t have to give up any commitments in regard to work or school. But thinking long term, IOP is best when addicts have already gone through detox and residential care. Relapse rates are higher if they do not complete those steps first. That said, addicts who HAVE completed in-patient treatment have higher rates of success going forward if they have IOP care.
What it boils down to: Sobriety is much more likely to stick if you don’t try to skip any steps. Ideally, addicts and alcoholics should go through detox first, then residential care, and then transition into IOP while residing in sober living. As much as addicts like to think that they’re the exception, the vast majority of us simply aren’t. We highly recommend to stick to what works for sobriety rather than what works for your schedule.