Sober Living


What Exactly Is Sober Living?

Sober Living is living free from drugs and alcohol, enjoying life and growing as an individual with the support of others.  There are many routes to sobriety, but no matter how someone gets sober, continued support is critical for overall success.  The process of recovering from drugs and alcohol is a long term commitment and learning how to find true joy and happiness is key.  Sober living should be about discovering how to live life to its fullest.  The best sober living facilities provide an atmosphere which encourages positive peer relationships, provides structured social interaction and includes drug testing to keep members accountable.

Sober living facilities come in all shapes and sizes, from a single halfway house to large recovery communities.  Recently, there are colleges and universities which have recognized the need for support for students in recovery and special programs have been created to fill this need.  Sober living has come a long way from it’s early days when halfway houses that offered little more than a warm bed.  Today’s sober living facilities are providing integrated treatment programs utilizing holistic methods in addition to 12 step meeting attendance.

Here are a few College Programs that offer sober programs:

How Is This Different From a Halfway House?

file0001785926379Halfway houses specifically for substance abuse have been around for nearly 50 years.  Oxford House first opened its doors in 1975 and has come to define the traditional concept of the halfway house for substance abuse.  Steeped in 12 step fellowship and a sense that addicts should live and work together have given the program its longevity.  However, these types of houses have a similar concept to halfway houses which serve inmates just released from prison.  They are a extension of a type of boarding house in which transient workers lived during the first part of the 20th century.  These programs generally are self managed, with few requirements beyond curfews and holding a job.  They rely entirely on 12 step meetings for fellowship.  If 12 step is what you want then these are great programs.

One caution, since halfway houses are usually managed by their residents your experience may will vary.  It’s important to get to know who you will be living with before moving in.  Make sure that random drug testing is done on the resident and counselors are available to talk to if problems arise.  It’s very important to know and follow all the rules because breaking them can mean that you will be kicked out of the house.  These houses are suitable for those who have already completed long term treatment and who need very little supervision.

How Did Sober Living Start ?

The nationally recognized sober living environment started on the West Coast in the US and has since become a common practice around the country. Sober living environments incorporate 12-step programs and structured recovery methods, which increase the residents success rate. Today’s Sober Living Facilities grew from earlier transitional or “therapeutic community” models such as Delancy Street, Synanon, and The Daytop Institute. These programs provided communities in which recovery was earned by 12 hour work days and strict rules against violence.  These earlier programs stressed life skills and education.  While many of these organizations still exist and produce good results for those that can complete them.  The programs are often require grueling work and do not offer counseling or other clinical services.  One feature of the programs is the “Game”, first introduced at Synanon and later spread to other therapeutic communities. This form of group therapy allowed residents to voice complaints and handle conflict in a structured setting.  While some residents of these programs credit the “game” as part of what made the program work, the confrontational nature it created has been abandoned by the majority of programs today.

What Service Do Sober Living Facilities Offer ?


Many sober living facilities today are associated with outpatient treatment programs, counselors and medical services to provide long term care at a much more affordable rate.  These programs may even replace treatment in some instances, although this must be determined by a licensed or certified drug and alcohol counselor.  In addition they may include yoga and other forms or recreation.

The term “Florida Model” recognizes a form of treatment which began in Florida.  In this form of treatment the level of care provided can match traditional treatment centers.  They include services such as 24 hour nursing care, access to psychiatric and counselors and transportation to and from counseling sessions.  These programs are all inclusive and are often more affordable.

Any way you look at it sober living environments have been proven to increase persistent recovery when used in combination of 12-step programs. In the end, skilled addiction treatment sources agree that staying in sober living after treatment tremendously improves results.  Structure is among the top priorities of successful long-term sobriety. The more disciplined the structure for the resident, the higher long-term success they will have.

Learning to enjoy life again is the ultimate goal of recovery and sober living can help make that a reality.