The amount of time you should stay in a sober living home – like the amount of time you should stay in treatment – should be determined based on your individual needs. As a general rule, as long as you are benefitting from the support provided by sober living and can afford to stay, then it’s a good idea to increase the amount of supported sober time you have before embarking on your new life in independent recovery.
However, if you feel that you are ready to go, it’s important to give yourself every opportunity to succeed and set yourself up to do well when you leave sober living.
Is It Time to Go?
- How do I feel? Do I experience panic attacks or unrelenting anxiety (e.g., wake up scared in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning) about the idea of leaving sober living? Do I feel strong in my ability to avoid relapse?
- Do I have a place to live that is safe and supportive of my recovery? Will others who live with me be supportive of me and keep drugs and alcohol out of the house? Do I feel like the relationships at home will be a trigger for relapse or an aid in my recovery?
- Do I have a plan for how I will spend my time when I leave? Is there a job or school program waiting for me that will help me to structure my schedule each day?
- Do I have a plan for continued treatment and growth in recovery? Do I have referrals for therapists and/or a psychiatrist who can help me to continue the treatment started in rehab? Do I have goals for ongoing treatment in recovery?
- Do I have supportive people to reach out to or a plan to begin developing a supportive community in recovery?
Preparing to Leave
It can be helpful to prepare a checklist before you leave a sober living home in order to ensure that you have everything in place to ease your transition out of treatment. Your list will be specific to your needs, but it may include items like:
- Residence. You will need a place to stay that is in a safe neighborhood. If you will not live alone, then you need to ensure that your roommates or family members are all drug-free and supportive of your goals in recovery.
- Employment. You will need to have a legal form of income when you leave treatment, and you also need to make sure that that job opportunity will not make it hard for you to avoid relapse. For example, you may want to make sure that the job you choose does not mean that you are in close contact with alcohol or other substances, and that the job is not especially stressful.
- Legal requirements. If you are on parole or probation, or going through treatment to fulfill a court order, make sure that all the proper agencies are notified of your intent to leave treatment and your change of address. If necessary, get the documentation necessary to show that your choice to leave sober living is approved.
- Treatment referrals. If you are leaving the area, you may need referrals to therapists who can help you where you’re going – substance abuse treatment professionals who can help you to continue to grow in recovery.
- Treatment plan. Putting together a treatment plan in advance that includes nutritional and exercise goals, life goals, family and relationship goals, as well as ongoing recovery goals can help you to put a structure into place to guide you.
We can help you learn more about the benefits of different types of addiction treatment and therapies and how to set yourself up for success in recovery. Call now.
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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.