Entering a sober living house upon completion of drug/alcohol treatment is highly-recommended as a wise transitional step in your recovery. There are though, several do’s and don’ts when entering sober living, and we’d like to cover a handful of them here.
Commonality: Depending on the substance or disorder you’re in recovery for, you’d be smart to find a sober living that’s either dedicated to or has success in housing these. The treatment facility you’re leaving or 12-step fellowship will be of great assist here, and recommendations are abundant. Dual Diagnosis and gambling disorders often have houses dedicated to these addictions/disorders, they’re not difficult to find.
Convenience: Again, depending on your financial and transportation situation, you may have to find a sober living that is close to public transportation to enable easy access to jobs, shopping, meetings, etc.
Alumni: It’s not a bad idea to move into a house that has some alumni from the treatment center you’re coming out of. The strength of camaraderie is extremely important in the recovery community, and you’re wise to take advantage of it at this critical period. Most treatment centers have alumni groups: this is where it happens.
12-step meetings: Convenience to transportation again, but even more than that, 12-step meetings are a great place to get referrals to sober living houses. Take advantage of the community…that’s what it’s for.
Limited Drug Availability: Let’s face it, the availability of illegal drugs is everywhere, and if you want them bad enough, you’re going to find them. But in general, it’s wise to choose a sober living that isn’t in easy access of your former drug connections. A no-brainer.
Family: Many of us leaving treatment are in the process of repairing family relationships, and during this period, it’s a good idea to live somewhere accessible to your family. By the same token, if you’re repairing a relationship with a significant other that you’ve been living with prior to treatment, it’s not a bad idea to reside in a sober living house even briefly, when you’re in transition. This will only strengthen your resolve, and enable you both to take the time needed to put in the all-important work without being in each other’s face.
Borrowing money: You’re going to make some new friends while residing in sober living…but the reality is the chance of them being life-long friends is slimmer than you’d think. To that end, unless you’re strapped for bus fare to get to work, don’t borrow money from people in sober living. Some people may be more vulnerable than others, and the weakness of offering to loan money in order to build friendships is something that does crop up in this “we’re all in recovery together” mindset. In addition to that, it opens up a hornet’s nest of addictive behavior on both sides; it’s just a bad idea.
Sober living is a great opportunity and platform to rebuild your life and re-invent yourself. The one caution is to not end up dropping anchor for life. Too many become dependent on sober livings for long-term housing when they really could move out and on with their lives. It’s called transitional living for a good reason.