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What to Look for in a Good Sober Living Home by Rehab Recovery Centers

Lack of a safe, supportive, and sober environment is one obstacle that stands in the way of sobriety for many people in early recovery. People who struggle with addiction are far more likely to relapse after treatment if they don’t have access to drug-free housing. Fortunately, sober living homes provide an environment that is healthy and conducive to long-term sobriety.

Sober living houses (SLH) are drug and alcohol-free homes that provide supportive housing to people in early recovery from addiction. SLHs are one of the most popular types of addiction treatment aftercare. They are not licensed nor funded by the national or state government and they do not offer formal drug and alcohol treatment. Instead, many SLHs promote a 12-step model of recovery that involves peer support, 12-step groups, and obligations in the home.

Unfortunately, the SLH industry has been plagued by a reputation of fraud, unsafe environments, and manipulative staff members. However, that doesn’t mean that good sober living environments don’t exist. In fact, if you know what to look for, you’ll find that there are many options for reputable sober living homes.

Red Flags of a Poorly Run Sober Home

Although there have been calls for legislation that requires sober living homes to meet specific quality standards, these laws have yet to be passed. As a result, recovery residences are a highly unregulated industry – so it’s vital to know what red flags to look for. If you’re considering a sober home, watch out for the following signs of a poorly run or even dangerous residence.

The Facility Pays People to Live There

Some poorly run SLHs will try to bribe residents to live there by offering free rent or even kickback fees. Sometimes, the administrators of these homes will do so in order to gather your insurance information to submit false claims and participate in insurance fraud. They may also offer to pay you to recruit new housemates to further continue this fraud. Homes such as these do not have your best interest at heart.

The Program Doesn’t Have Any Admissions Requirements

All SLHs should have standard admissions requirements in place. If the home you are considering doesn’t have standard intake procedures, admissions requirements, or patient records, this is another red flag that the facility is poorly run.

The Home is Unsafe, Dirty, or Rundown

When choosing a sober home, you should never go by the pictures provided online. Instead, request to tour the residence. Keep an eye out for rodent or insect infestations, cramped sleeping quarters, unsanitary living conditions, broken appliances, and faulty electrical equipment. If the home is dirty or doesn’t meet the basic standards you would be looking for when finding an apartment, the home probably isn’t managed well.

There are No House Rules or Expectations

A facility is potentially dangerous if it doesn’t require random drug testing, assign weekly chores, and require residents to abide by certain rules. Moreover, if the home doesn’t have a live-in house manager or trained staff who complete regular inspections and check-ins, it isn’t a reputable home. If the sober home lets residents come and go as they please, use drugs or alcohol in the home, or have unrelated guests, it is a sign that the home may be dangerous to your sobriety, safety, and well-being.

Aspects of a Good Sober Living Home

Even though sober housing is an unregulated industry, there are plenty of reputable and trustworthy sober living homes across the nation. Here are some key aspects of a good sober home.

There are Outlined Admissions Requirements and Housing Costs

Depending on the specific home, the admissions requirements may vary. Some will require people to be drug and alcohol-free while others will require patients to have completed an addiction treatment program. Other requirements may include:

  • Participation in 12-step meetings
  • Regular attendance at work or school
  • Actively participate in outpatient care
  • Take any required medications as prescribed
  • Be able to perform daily activities without assistance

Prior to your admission, these requirements should be clearly outlined before you. This ensures that there is structure as to who is and who isn’t allowed to live in the home. In addition to admissions requirements, all costs should be expressed to you, including a deposit, weekly/monthly rental fees, and how to pay that rent.

All House Mates are Required to Stay Sober and Follow the Rules

Mandatory and randomized drug and alcohol screenings are standard protocol at any reputable sober living home. After all, the main requirement should be that members maintain their sobriety. In addition to drug and alcohol testing, housemates will be required to follow additional house rules and meet certain expectations, including:

  • Getting home on time for curfew each night
  • Completing assigned chores
  • Not having any outside visitors in the home
  • Not bringing any weapons, drugs, alcohol, or paraphernalia into the home
  • Maintaining a clean and sanitary living space
  • Being quiet, respectful, and courteous to other house members

Sober homes that enforce these rules and regulations are typically trustworthy and well-run. They also provide a structured environment that helps support sobriety.

The Sober Living Home Employs Trained Staff

Good SLHs will have a life-in house manager and/or trained staff who enforce the above-listed rules. They are also responsible for facilitating drug and alcohol screenings, ensuring the safety of the home, and making sure the home meets regulatory housing standards. Depending on the home, the staff may consist of volunteers, certified staff and recovery coaches, or other individuals in recovery.

The Home is Clean, Safe, and Operates Ethically

When deciding whether or not a sober living home is reputable, look at the home in the same way you would when looking for a place to live for yourself. There should be enough room for all residents, windows and doors that lock, appliances that work, and ethical standards upon which the house operates. Other things you may want to consider are:

  • The number of people sharing a room
  • Whether or not the home is mixed-gender
  • The exterior of the home is maintained
  • The safety of the surrounding neighborhood and areas

If there is anything about the home that makes you feel uneasy, you may want to look the other way. Any good sober home will be well-maintained, safe, and sanitary.

Find a Sober Home Near You Today

If you or a loved one are considering going to sober living after rehab, know that you’re making the right decision. Sober living homes are great ways for people in early recovery to adjust to a sober lifestyle and have access to a safe living environment. That being said, not all recovery residences are created equal, and finding the right one isn’t always easy.

At Rehab Recovery Centers, our addiction specialists are dedicated to helping you find the right addiction recovery program that meets your needs. Call today to speak with a dedicated treatment professional and we’ll help you locate a sober living home near you.

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