It’s the perfect home.
Comfortable and spacious rooms. Walking distance from the beach. A large backyard with a pool. Amenities like wi-fi and meals are included in the rent.
It’s all good until you get there, ready to move in, and discover there are no smoke detectors.
Like any place you’re considering living in, it can be easy to be deceived by photographs and ad copy. It’s a bad situation when you’re thinking about a place to live on your own. But when you add the complications of addiction recovery to your home search, it’s far riskier. Frustrations, disappointment, and an unsafe environment are the last things you need to experience in recovery.
Sober homes are excellent places to recover. But that doesn’t mean all sober homes are good. If you’re searching for a sober home to live in – and if you’re reading this blog, you probably are – it pays to ask a few questions before signing a lease.
Here are five:
Question #1: Who’s Running the House?
This should always be your first question when considering a sober living home.
One of the side effects of the current drug epidemic in the US has been an ever-increasing number of rehab providers and sober homes. While it’s great there are more and more ways for people to get help, the growing amount of recovery providers also means keeping a critical eye is more important than ever.
As far as who runs sober houses, it’s a mix. Many sober homes are connected to treatment centers, which usually means residents attend treatment at the center while living in the home. Other homes are run by independent businesses, which can be more affordable. While this isn’t a sign of sober home quality one way or the other, it’s something to keep in mind when searching for a sober home.
While there still isn’t a lot of regulation over who runs a sober home, many states are establishing laws on sober home requirements. If the sober home is connected to a treatment center, make sure the treatment center is regulated by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
For independent sober homes, look for accreditation from the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR).
Both organizations provide standards organizations have to meet.
Question #2: Is the Staff Qualified?
This is another important question. A sober home’s staff is likely going to be living under the same roof as you. What’s their background like? Are they trained in first aid? Are they connected to a particular drug rehab?
Your safety has to come first.
Question #3: Are Devices Welcome?
Smartphones, laptops, and tablets: they’re not just accessories anymore, they’re often crucial links to our family, friends, and careers. This is especially true for a person in treatment for drug & alcohol addiction.
However, devices can also be distracting. Plus, in some unfortunate cases, they can also be gateways to harmful influences, such as friends still caught up in addiction or even dealers. To be successful, recovery often requires intense commitment and concentration. It’s why a lot of drug rehabs forbid devices, especially during the early stages of recovery.
Most people enter a sober living arrangement during the later stages of care at an addiction center, but many sober homes also restrict access to devices and the internet. Many others include wi-fi as one of the amenities they offer, so it’s always worth asking what a particular sober home’s policies are on devices. Staying in contact with loved ones during recovery can be a huge motivating factor to stay in recovery, too.
Question 4: What’s the Neighborhood Like?
In the last question, we talked about how recovery requires concentration and focus. The neighborhood around the sober home should reflect that. Look for homes in quiet areas, away from busy streets and business areas.
Also, ask if the neighborhood is safe and well-patrolled. You don’t want to recover in a home located in a gang area, or where drugs are sold. Sober living should take you away from temptations, not place you in the middle of them.
Question 5: Is the House Safe?
Sober living homes are communal spaces, often with multiple people sharing a room. While this helps you stay accountable in recovery, it also raises questions about safety.
Does the home have an escape plan? Are there working fire and carbon monoxide detectors? What’s the security like; is there a door cam or alarms in the house? Also, are the residents screened to weed out aggressive and/or violent tenants?
While sober living is a great way to recover from drug and alcohol addiction, it also involves you putting trust in strangers. Asking questions before signing a lease is smart and can make a real difference in how your recovery goes.
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