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Why Are Sober Houses So Effective?

Why Are Sober Houses So Effective?

Sober Living Research

Research indicates that sober houses are crucial in early recovery for a number of reasons. Sober houses can refer to a number of different home structures, but to us, sober housing is intentional group living for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder. They are often considered to be a transitional living environment between clinical treatment and traditional living arrangements. Sober houses provide an element of support and guidance that a resident wouldn’t get in independent living.

Focus on Recovery

One of the most common fears of those returning home from rehabilitation is being triggered and ultimately relapsing. Relapse is a factor regardless of the situation or person. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Rehabilitation took a look at sober house residents over 18 months, finding that the focus on recovery supported by their peers will increase likelihood of recovery maintenance significantly.

Employment & Independence

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment tried to to identify the characteristics of sober houses and how they impact certain aspects of their residents’ lives. The study examined 330 residents in nearly 50 sober homes. One of the not-so-surprising findings was that residency in a sober house increased the level of employment, even at six-month and twelve-month follow-up interviews after their initial study. Likely this is because sober homes focus on independence and self-reliance, encouraging residents to build the life they want. Residents who focus on their recovery journey are more likely to feel confident in applying and interviewing for positions.

Peer Support

Peer support and being a member of a recovery community can greatly influence the lives of someone in recovery. In another study, researchers assessed women in recovery in a sober house setting and found four common factors which contributed to their success:

  • Support – The sense of community and family, connection with housemates, and consistency among those in the sober living environment helps people in recovery feel part of a larger community
  • Education – Education is encouraged in may sober houses, and helps residents build lives that they want to live free from the use of substances
  • Empowerment – Sober houses encourage residents to be themselves and pursue their dreams, opening the doors for men and women in recovery to see new futures
  • Direction – Most sober houses encourage or even require 12-Step programs, therapy, and other recovery-related activities

A Community of Empowerment

Sober houses provide a supportive community setting for those in recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights that for those who aren’t ready to enter mainstream living (which is the vast majority of those in early recovery), sober houses and the community they provide offer a direct and positive impact on the residents’ lives. Lori Criss, Associate Director of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers, told SAMHSA in 2016:

“Who we spend our time with, where we go, and the things we surround ourselves with all impact who we are and the decisions we make…Recovery housing can [fill the pain and isolation often felt in recovery] with a safe place, compassionate people, and a life full of purpose and fun that doesn’t involve alcohol or drugs.”

Are you called to build a better world by opening a sober house? Are you an existing operator who wants to do more? We’re here to help. Our mission is to help establish and improve sober houses where they are needed, and with independent franchised Operators who know and love the communities they serve.

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