In recovery, there’s sober living … and living sober.
Ideally, we want to do both as we recover from drug and alcohol abuse. Both sober living homes and 12-step addiction support groups play important roles in recovery.
But the roles they play are also very different.
Sober Living Homes
Sober living homes are just that: residences for people in recovery who want to live sober. These homes provide a safe space for residents to live in while they continue working on their recovery. In many sober living homes, residents are expected to follow certain rules and guidelines, such as abstaining from drugs and alcohol, attending 12-step meetings, and completing chores around the house.
While sober living homes are not treatment facilities, many of them do provide certain services and amenities that can help residents in their recovery, such as:
- 12-step meetings: Most sober living homes require residents to attend at least one 12-step meeting per week. This helps residents stay connected to the 12-step program and maintain their sobriety.
- Drug testing: Many sober living homes require residents to submit to regular drug tests. This helps ensure that everyone in the house is staying sober and also provides accountability for residents.
- House rules: Sober living homes typically have a set of house rules that all residents must follow. These rules are designed to promote sobriety and respect for others in the house.
- Sober activities: Sober living homes often offer sober activities for residents to participate in. These activities help residents stay sober and engaged in their recovery.
In short, sober living homes help us live sober. They act as a sort of safety net as we prepare to re-enter the normal world during (or after) a term spent at a drug rehab. At a sober living home, we’re able to rebuild the social skills addiction damaged, or even create new ones.
12-step groups, on the other hand, help us reinforce sober living.
12-step groups are voluntary, peer-led support groups for people recovering from addiction. There are no membership dues or requirements to join a 12-step group; all that’s required is a desire to stop using drugs and alcohol.
These groups offer support and fellowship for people in recovery. They provide a place for members to share their experiences, strength, and hope with each other. 12-step groups also offer guidance and support for members as they work through the 12 steps of recovery.
There are many different kinds of 12-step and other support groups. They range from the well-known, like Alcoholics Anonymous, to lesser-known groups, such as the secular SMART Recovery program. Here’s a quick guide to some of the better-known 12-step groups:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): AA is the original 12-step program. It was founded in 1935 and has since grown to be one of the largest and most well-known support groups in the world. AA is based on the 12 steps of recovery, which members work through at their own pace.
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA): NA is similar to AA, but it’s specifically for people recovering from drug addiction. NA was founded in 1953 and has also grown to be a large and well-known support group. Like AA, NA is based on the 12 steps of recovery.
- SMART Recovery: SMART Recovery is a secular alternative to 12-step programs. It was founded in 1994 and uses a different approach to recovery than AA and NA. SMART Recovery has the same fundamental goal as any other addiction support group: allow recovering people to share resources in recovery and better understand their addictions.
- Al-Anon: Al-Anon is a 12-step program for the friends and family members of alcoholics. It was founded in 1951 and is based on the same 12 steps of recovery as AA.
As you can see, sober living homes and 12-step groups are different in many ways. But they both offer support and guidance for people in addiction recovery.
What is a 12-Step Program?
The 12 steps of recovery are a set of guiding principles that outline a path to sober living and help people in recovery from addiction. The 12 steps were originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and have since been adopted by many other 12-step and other support groups.
The 12 steps of recovery are:
- We admitted we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12 steps of recovery provide a framework for sober living and help people in recovery from addiction work through their issues. Sober living homes offer a place to live soberly and work on recovery, but they don’t necessarily follow the 12 steps. 12-step groups provide support and fellowship for people in recovery, but they don’t usually offer housing. Both sober living homes and 12-step groups can be helpful resources for people in addiction recovery.
Finding a sober living home can be a bit of a challenge, however.
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