A Guide to Sober Living

Making the transition residential drug rehabilitation to a sober living home is an exciting and momentous occasion in the life of any recovering person. This move represents a huge achievement in personal goals and healing.

Once residential treatment is over,remaining clean and sober can be tough, especially when you’re moving out of the structure of 24/7 treatment. The world outside of your treatment center is very much like you might remember it, although there’s one big change: you’re sober. Reacquainting yourself with daily life – family, friends, career – can be challenging, and you may not be sure how to keep your commitment to sobriety, particularly when you may be surrounded with triggers, both emotional and physical, that seem to tempt you at every turn.

Many people mistakenly think that their time after inpatient treatment is the end of addiction all together. That’s not so. Addiction is an illness and recovery is a lifelong process. Hearing the word “lifelong” may incite stress, but it gets easier every day. It might be difficult at first, but when you maintain a strong desire to abstain and combine it with a supportive and nurturing environment, your chances of success are great.

What Is Sober Living?

Women drinking coffee on front porchSober living means maintaining a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle and renewing your commitment to abstinence each and every day you wake up. Some days may be more difficult than others, but each day is a step in the right direction. Don’t give up!

Sober living homes serve as a transitional element in the rehabilitation process.

Upon exiting formal treatment, you may want to go into a sober living home if you don’t feel that you’re quite ready to return to an unstructured environment. Sober living homes are independently-funded housing arrangements for those wishing to get clean or remain abstinent. They generally have less structure than you’d find in formal treatment, but sober living homes and their residents still follow guidelines.

In sober living, you aren’t required to go to formal treatment, but you are strongly encouraged to attend 12-Step meetings, counseling with your chosen therapist, or other support groups. Each positive step you make can only strengthen your resolve to remain abstinent.

What You Might Find in a Sober Living Home

Sober living homes do tend to follow guidelines. These rules are set in place so that a resident can acclimate himself or herself to daily life without the stresses of triggers and negative influences. Residents are expected to show accountability and responsibility as well as serve as an active part in the community.

Most sober living homes share these qualities:

  • A drug- and alcohol-free environment
  • Availability of and attendancein 12-Step groups and other counseling groups
  • The presence of house rules to which residents are expected to comply
  • An emphasis on financial responsibility (including paying rent, utilities and other bills that may be required of all residents)
  • An invitation to stay as long as needed when possible, under the assumption that residents follow the house rules and contribute to the community1

What else can you expect out of sober living? A supportive community. Studies have shown that a positive social network is integral in predicting abstinence outcomes. A solid peer network of friends, family, and colleagues who discourage drinking correlates to positive improvements in abstinence. Those who do have these strong support systems often show better abstinence outcomes three years after completion of treatment.2

When you’re in a sober living home, you’re surrounded by others who share the same goal as you do: getting and staying sober. You’ll find people from all walks of life who have struggled with addiction. Their stories might be similar to yours, too. You’re likely to meet people who have been there for a year, a few months, or just entered a sober living home.

By meeting these people, forming relationships with them, and bonding through shared experiences, you can not only learn something from them, but you can also teach them something from your own experience. This reciprocity helps to encourage others (and yourself) and you may forge positive relationships that can last a lifetime.

“Before I got sober, I had a job, 401K and insurance — everything that looked good on paper,” says Stephanie A. at www.HeroesInRecovery.com. “But I did not know how to live in reality. Sober living taught me how to live in the real world sober. I went to meetings, I got a sponsor, and I worked the steps. I had people that supported me. I learned how to build relationships with other people but also learned about myself.”

Tips on How to Live Without Drugs or Alcohol

Whether you’re thinking about sobriety, transitioning into a sober living home, or leaving a sober community you can always come back to your short- and long-term goals to help keep you focused.

Consider these tips to improve your life in sobriety:

  • Relax! Take a deep and calming breath when you feel stressed out or overwhelmed. It happens to the best of us, so don’t let a momentary experience of stress weaken your commitment.
  • Remember the Serenity Prayer. You know it, right? God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Say it out loud to yourself or in your head. Don’t you feel better already?
  • Change your old routines. What you did prior to treatment may not work now, so switch things up a bit. If you walk to work and pass by a bar you used to visit, change your route so you aren’t faced with old triggers.
  • Make a daily routine. When changing up your old schedule, try to create a new one that fosters your commitment to abstinence.
  • Keep commitments. Did you make a plan to meet with a new friend for lunch? Keep it! Taking action on things you said you’d do makes you feel better and encourages that can-do attitude you’re striving for.
  • Use a day-by-day approach. Does a lifetime of abstinence scare you? Probably. So, take it one day at a time. You can commit to sobriety for a day, so let each day come and go as you commit to abstain.
  • Be accountable for your actions. Pay your bills, keep your commitments, and don’t play the blame game. If something goes wrong, identify what your role in it was. Blaming others for your shortcomings or because a situation didn’t go 100 percent right will do no one any good, especially yourself.
  • Stay active, get plenty of rest and treat yourself well. That should speak for itself. Exercise, make sure you get good quality sleep, and don’t be so hard on yourself that you forget the little (and big) joys in life.
  • Find a sponsor. Even if you aren’t attending 12-Step groups, find someone in your life who serves as a positive influence.
  • Embrace change. Life happens. Things are never what they were and they won’t be what they are, so take change as it occurs and move forward.3

Thinking about Sober Living?

You’re at the right place! The Oaks at La Paloma is proud to have a strong network of clinicians and counselors who can help you find the right sober living home for you. If you’re thinking about entering treatment, we have you covered on that, too. Our team is top-notch and our approaches are evidence-based and proven to be effective. Call us today and one of our representatives will speak with you one-on-one and help you find the right kind of treatment for you. Recovery starts today.


1 Polcin, D., Henderson, D. A Clean and Sober Place to Live: Philosophy, Structure, and Purported Therapeutic Factors in Sober Living Houses. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Jun 2008.

2 Foundations Recovery Network. 5 Ways that Community Support Aids Sobriety. 18 Sept 2014.

3 Scripps Health. 25 Tips for Sober Living During the Holidays. 9 Dec 2010.