Sober living homes are excellent resources for those who are interested in an intermediary step between intense residential drug rehab and returning home to attempt outpatient aftercare support treatment services. Sober living offers a number of benefits to patients in recovery but these benefits come with some structure as well. Every sober living home is different, so getting to know the house rules before you enter a sober living environment will help you to know what to expect before you arrive.
No two sober living homes will have exactly the same expectations of residents. Some are simply a residence that is safe where no drugs or alcohol are allowed. Others offer treatment services or provide ongoing support to patients as they begin to seek aftercare support out in the community. Depending upon how comfortable you feel navigating life after rehab, you can choose the level of support that is appropriate to you.
In general, however, the following rules are relatively common:
- Drug testing. Complete sobriety is required in a sober living home, just as it is in drug rehab. Those who are caught in violation of this rule because they have drugs in their possession or fail a drug test will either lose privileges or be asked to leave depending upon the policy of the house.
- House meetings. Regular meetings are usually mandatory in a sober living home. This provides a place for everyone to check in and work through grievances, assign chores, and get answers to questions.
- The 12 Steps. Some places offer in-home 12-Step meetings. Others require residents to attend meetings in the community and get a sheet signed to prove their attendance.
- Curfews. Being home by a certain time is mandatory, especially for new residents. Over time, if a resident has a commitment at school or work, then this rule may be waived under certain conditions.
- Bathroom schedule. With a number of people living in one place, it may be necessary to assign shower times to make sure that everyone is able to get where they need to be on time.
- Cleaning. Cleaning of communal areas is generally up to the residents. Chores are usually assigned on a rotating basis.
- Meal prep. If meals are shared as a community, then planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation may be assigned to residents on a rotating basis as well.
- Personal treatment plan goals. If the sober living home requires patients to develop a treatment plan and meet with in-house case managers, then residents will be required to do the work during the week and progress toward treatment goals.
If all requirements are met, then residents can often earn privileges that usually come in the form of more freedom. These may include any or all of the following:
- Free time. Time off from mandatory house outings or the ability to pick the activity may be one privilege.
- Group outings. Getting to join a group of residents on a special outing – going shopping, to an amusement park, a museum, to a park, etc. – is another option.
- Personal outings. Being allowed to go for a walk up to a nearby store or go out into the community with or without a sober partner may be an earned privilege.
- Release from chores. Enjoying free time rather than taking part in community chores when the rest of the house is working is always a nice break.
- Family visits. It’s not unusual to have standard family visit days but extra visits with family may be available on a case-by-case basis.
- Fewer restrictions. Enjoying fewer restrictions overall is a privilege that can be earned with time spent in the home and a proven track record of reliability.
Further Reading About House Rules for Sober Living
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.