Safe Residing in a sober living home is very much like living in your family home when you were just a kid, lots of rules you have to abide by, but with one big, important exception:
Break the strict rules here – and there are quite a few more you need to abide by – and the management (your “Sober Living Mom and Pop,” if you like) will have no option but to kick you straight out of the house.
And the thing is: This is what you have happily chosen, with no-one forcing or coercing you to live this way. Importantly though, for you, this is a great choice, the perfect choice to have made in the first place.
At this point in your life, you need to live somewhere that has strict rules about your conduct and behavior.
Why? That’s an easy one to answer.
Because your previous conduct and behavior, living a life with no rules and no standards left to govern you by, led you to becoming a full-blown drug addict or a chronic alcoholic.
And these uber-strict house rules that must be followed to the letter in a sober living environment?
No drugs, no booze, and no prescription medications – and possibly even over-the-counter meds – without full prior authorization.
And completely random drug testing – anytime, anywhere, anyhow – to keep you bang on the straight and narrow.
What is a Sober Living Home?
Sober living homes (sometimes referred to as SLHs) are properties that house people, as paying tenants, who are in addiction recovery. They usually have a house manager in place to ensure compliance.
The people who choose to live here may have just completed an inpatient (or residential) addiction treatment program, another form of addiction treatment, be unable to live at home because of an unsupportive family, or for another reason.
As the name states, sober living homes are residences designed to be substance-free, and they all have a zero tolerance policy on drugs or alcohol as one of its rules of residency.
Anyone found to have broken this rule (and random drug testing is usually carried out to check) is immediately evicted from the house.
Other house rules and regulations often include strict curfews, no visitors staying overnight, and a written agreement that the resident can be tested for either drugs or alcohol indiscriminately – at any time whatsoever.
These strict living arrangements are designed to gradually expose the residents to the real world, and its inherent dangers and triggers, as they make their big transition from early recovery to long-term sobriety.
Residents are free to either study or work, of course, as they are in any other kind of rented accommodation.
The Key to Sober Living: Taking Responsibility
To make the most from living in this strictly regulated residency, all housemates are encouraged to take personal responsibility and be held accountable for their actions and, of course, their sobriety.
We all make mistakes, but actually owning up to them, and admitting it’s all your fault, is an essential step toward making the positive changes that you need to in addiction recovery.
Your housemates (often referred to as “peers”) are there for exactly the same reason you are, so cultivating a peaceful and harmonious environment is for the benefit of all residents.
Taking full responsibility is a major way of achieving this kind of ambience in the house.
Here’s an example. We all have different standards of cleanliness. Having a house meeting at the start of living together can help all housemates establish an understanding of what is expected from them, and from each other. Such meetings can also agree on how chores will be divided, too.
If this is your first time living in a SLH, a good early rule to have is to always clean up after yourself.
Living in a sober living environment can be challenging for many people, and often they can find the strict house rules and regulations too oppressive and too pressurizing.
If you think you will have problems being yourself, there are those you can seek advice from. For example, a professional and qualified recovery coach can help enormously with your adjustment into sober living.
Being a Good Housemate
If there is one “golden rule” for living in a peer-based community such as a SLH, it’s this:
Be 100% Respectful.
Sharing your thoughts and feelings with your roommates is an important part of SLH daily life. For these to be expressed well, you need to understand what your boundaries are and how to best articulate them.
Early recovery is a vital phase for you in learning this important element of social communication.
You must remember that other members also have their boundaries – their preferences, likes and dislikes. Respecting each others’ boundaries will not only gain respect for your own boundaries, it will encourage trust and openness in the house.
More SLH Housemate Tips
Here are a few more tips to follow for ensuring you are a good housemate for those you live with, and that will promote a happy, peaceful co-existence in the house:
|● Stick to the sober living house rules like glue or face eviction||● Before entering someone’s room, knock on their door||● Spend time bonding with others through activities|
|● Don’t use personal items that are not yours without asking||● Don’t eat other peoples’ food without asking first||● Try to keep the TV or music volume level reasonable|
|● Avoid topics or stories that you know are potentially triggering for other housemates||● Listen to your housemates’ concerns and be supportive (only if it’s truly warranted)||● Pay attention to others’ emotions and body language, and give them space if they need it|
In order for sober living to be a positive recovery experience for you, you have to learn to cooperate, work together as a team in resolving any issues, and help each other if others genuinely need it.
Here’s one last tip that will stand you in good stead within your new community:
Do not be afraid to make friends.