Recovering from drug & alcohol abuse isn’t easy, and the numbers back it up: according to the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA), the relapse rates for addiction run between 40 and 60 percent.
That’s one of the reasons many people look towards sober living housing as part of their recovery.
The advantages of sober living are many. First, they offer a stable place to call home, with structures, boundaries, and rules in place. Secondly, they’re great places to forge new, positive relationships with others who share the same goal of freeing themselves of addiction. Thirdly, they allow a person to live independently while avoiding potential addiction triggers. Finally, sober living is an invaluable transition between the intense structure of hospitalization and mainstream life.
Sober living has an interesting history as well. The farthest thing from a new, untested method, people have sought the structure and companionship sober living provides for many years.
A Short History Of Sober Living
In an article published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, researchers Douglas Polcin, EdD, MFT and Diane Henderson, BA, examined the history of sober living houses based on a five-year study they conducted.
Sober living houses aren’t a new concept – creating places for people to recover from (or pursue a life away from) alcohol and other addictive substances have existed for nearly 200 years. The earliest example of sober living “lodging houses” or “dry hotels” were started in the US during the 1830s by religious organizations such as the Salvation Army, the YMCA, and the YWCA.
In later decades, addiction support programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) increased their profile along with an increased US population. Polcin and Henderson write that Los Angeles was one of the first sites of “twelfth step” houses, sober living houses opened and operated by recovering AA members. Several dozen were operating in the city by the 1960s.
Polcin and Henderson go on to write that the need for sober living houses continued to increase during the following decades … but the supply was declining. They cite research showing the reasons for the decline were linked to a lack of affordable housing (sound familiar?) along with declines in alternate housing such as single room occupancy (SRO) hotels. Meanwhile, the closure of psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment programs only added to the shortage of sober living places.
However, something good came from one of these closures.
A Model For Sober Living Going Forward
During the 1970s, a substance abuse halfway house was shuttered in Montgomery County, MD. In response, the house’s residents began to pay rent and utilities on their own, adopting a democratic model of managing the house as they did so. Later known as an Oxford House, the initial house just north of Washington DC became a model for drug & alcohol treatment in later decades.
Sober living homes have flourished in recent years. A study from the National Institutes of Health found there are nearly 18,000 sober living houses nationwide.
Many modern sober living houses resemble the Oxford House model, whether intentionally or otherwise. For example, like the first Oxford House a lot of sober living homes are self-sustaining and not run by outside organizations.
The similarities extend to how the houses are run as well. Generally, the houses have some kind of manager, a person who collects rent and resolves conflicts. The people who live in the sober house often rely on a democratic way of assigning chores, determining repairs, and managing community spaces.
But sober living’s benefits aren’t just social – research has shown there are genuine benefits to living in a sober environment.
Sober Living Helps People Live Sober, Study Shows
In a follow-up study to their article, Polcin and Henderson report sober living comes with multiple benefits. According to their findings, sober living doesn’t just mean a longer time spent sober – it also improves psychological symptoms, increases chances of employment, and decreases the chance of legal trouble.
For example: in the follow-up, Polcin and Henderson spent five years tracking 300 individuals in 20 different sober living homes nationwide. Of that 300, nearly half agreed to participate in a six-month follow-up study.
The researchers discovered nearly half of that group reported being sober for the entire 6-month period; 24% reported being sober five out of the six months.
In Recovery, Success Is A Matter Of Time
Although there are many variables in drug & alcohol addiction treatment, time is definitely a factor. NIDA reports the minimum length of time for participation in an addiction treatment program is 90 days and goes on to state longer-term treatment is key for lasting success.
Being able to rely on a sober, stable environment during treatment is an invaluable aid to success. Sober living isn’t just a good idea; it may well make a life and death difference.
Finding a sober living solution for your specific needs isn’t always easy, however. There are multiple factors to consider, including location, distance to work and/or family, and cost.
Enter SoberLivingNearYou.com. Our database puts thousands of sober living houses near you at your fingertips, giving you an invaluable tool on your hunt for a sober place to call home.
Want to learn more? Contact a SoberLivingNearYou.com representative today at 866-940-0439!