Going home can often put a person in a high-risk situation for relapse after rehab. This risk is usually high if the person's community has a drug problem. Likewise, persons without a support system to maintain sobriety after rehab may later relapse. A sober living home can help these people transition from a rehab program to life.
Sober living homes refer to community residences where people temporarily stay until they are ready to live independently. People whose communities have a drug problem choose these homes because they are drug-free environments. Likewise, persons without support systems benefit from peer support during their stay.
Illinois sober living homes are informal living arrangements, and most do not require a license for operation. Nevertheless, most homes register with the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Life in a sober living home is much like living at home, albeit with more people than in a typical family house. Everyone has a chore they do or some responsibility that gets them involved in the home activities and maintenance.
While the activities in a sober living home will vary with the facility, residents typically start their day with assigned chores and breakfast. Residents who are employed prepare and leave for work. People with obligations outside the house, like court appearances, rehab sessions, or community service, also do the same.
Residents return home before the house curfew (which varies with home) and assist in making dinner. Most sober living homes also hold house meetings or group sessions. House meetings aim to resolve interpersonal disputes, change residents' responsibilities, and welcome new residents.
Group sessions provide a platform for residents to share their experiences in sobriety and get support from others. Former residents also visit during these sessions to share their experiences and encourage newer residents. Many sober living homes also foster an informal sponsor-sponsee relationship to help residents stay on track in their recovery journey.
Sober living homes are drug and alcohol-free environments. In addition to making the sober living home free of substances that can trigger a relapse, sober living homes also have rules that residents must follow during their stay. These rules are not always convenient but help residents maintain their sobriety and prepare them for independent living.
In all sober living homes, the general rule is that residents cannot use or bring drugs or alcohol into the house. Residents who violate this rule get evicted.
But outside the sober living home, the circumstances are different, and there are many factors outside most people's control. Still, it is possible to remain sober while in a sober living house. Here are some tips that have helped:
It depends. Most people move into a sober living home after receiving professional addiction treatment. However, this is not a hard requirement. The most significant factor that should play a role in your decision to live in a sober living home is the need to live in a drug-free environment, away from regular stressors and triggers.
But remember, moving into a sober living home cannot substitute expert help. Everyone faces addiction differently, and no one can support you as an experienced recovery specialist would. Besides, sober living homes do not have the facilities to manage detox and withdrawal symptoms safely. Thus, it is best to commit to an outpatient program to improve your recovery outcomes further.
According to the Department of Human Services Administrative Code, sober living homes and halfway houses (HHs) are recovery homes. While both are living informal arrangements for people in recovery, there are significant differences:
Halfway houses generally require new residents to have completed a rehab program (detox, inpatient, or residential) before living in the house. Conversely, new residents of a sober living home need not be in a formal rehab program before moving in.
In addition to having specific requirements for entry, residents of halfway houses can only stay for a specified time. Afterward, they must leave. Conversely, a sober living home does not limit how long residents stay as long they keep house rules.
Generally, halfway houses usually partner with government agencies and public programs that provide funds to subsidize house costs. On the other hand, sober living homes are not typically funded by the government or affiliated with public programs. As such, residents contribute monthly fees towards house expenses.
Daily life in a halfway house is more structured compared to sober living homes, where residents have more freedom with how they spend their time outside the house. However, residents of halfway houses must commit to a formal rehab program during their stay.
Halfway houses are dorm-like. There are more residents, fewer amenities, and thus, less privacy. Conversely, the structure of sober living homes is more like private residences. Rooms are less crowded, and residents have more privacy and amenities.
The four types of sober living homes in Illinois, based on the levels of support residents get and the length of stay, are:
Halfway houses provide the highest level of support for residents and typically partner with formal rehab centers or courts that run alternative sentencing programs. Halfway houses usually have the shortest length of stay among sober living homes.
Oxford houses are informal residences with the main goal of fostering a drug-free environment for residents. Residents support each other, and the house has rules to encourage sober living. But ultimately, each person is responsible for their recovery and stabilization. Also, residents can stay for as long as they want, provided they maintain house rules.
This type of sober living house also provides a high level of support for residents and is often affiliated with outpatient rehab programs in Illinois. People in transitional housing usually need temporary accommodation while looking for a job or affordable housing after rehab.
Sober housing is a short-stay living arrangement to support sobriety, especially after a relapse. This type of sober living home is best for persons who do not need a high level of support to get back to their sobriety goals. Usually, the people who stay in sober housing have a robust support system, work, or the ability to become self-sufficient after their stay.
The three phases of sober living, from entry to exit, involve:
Residents in this phase learn to adjust to their new environment and live with strangers. The focus is to keep the person from drugs and alcohol while they adjust, so house rules typically set early curfews for people in this stage.
This phase focuses on simulating regular life as much as possible. So, residents get assigned house chores and are encouraged to participate in activities outside the house. Curfews get later at this stage.
At this stage, the resident is confident enough in their sobriety skills that they are ready to move out of the sober living home. Residents in the self-sufficiency phase take on most responsibility for their sobriety.
The Illinois Department of Human Residences maintains a database containing the contact information of recovery residences. You can search this database to find a sober living home near you.
Alternatively, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at (800) 662-4357 to find a sober living home. Your conversation with SAMHSA's representative is confidential, and the line is open 24/7.
Furthermore, consider using the SAMHSA's treatment center locator to find a rehab program or sober living home if you intend to get formal treatment during your stay at the sober house. The locator shows the facility's location and contact information. You will also see an overview of available therapies, amenities, and supported payment methods.