Transitioning Out of Sober Living
Sober living (also called recovery residence) can be a great place to start the journey out of addiction and into recovery. Once it’s time to go back home (or start anew), the transition out of sober living can provoke anxiety and fear of relapse. Still, there are ways to make sure your transition out of sober living and into long-term recovery is a success.
What is Sober Living?
Sober living programs are an incredibly powerful path to addiction recovery. The primary
reasons behind this are twofold. The first is people take months to create new behaviors. Even if
someone starts their desired changes from the first day they get sober, it can still take months to
create new neural pathways that support your new behaviors.
Secondly, people in early recovery (and ongoing recovery for some substances) experience neurochemical imbalances. In the early stages of recovery, most people struggle with extreme dopamine imbalance, which
inhibits their motivation, excitability, movement and pleasure. For this reason, people take
months to start to feel normal again before they are ready to dedicate themselves to new
So how does sober living fit into this picture?
In short, sober homes provide structured extended living experiences. Since people who get
treated at a standard 30-day residential facility are incredibly vulnerable to relapse, transitioning
into sober living can help bridge the gap of relapse susceptibility. The essence of these
programs is to create a recovery-oriented living environment for an extended period of time.
An important thing to remember when considering sober homes is they vary extensively both in
costs and services provided. Since insurance doesn’t cover the cost of sober living, you need to
consider how much the program costs per month and any additional associated costs, such as
food. Most programs will last as little as 1 month and as long as several years if needed.
Your average sober living will provide some structured routine, drug and alcohol testing, access to
community events and food. Some sober living homes provide amenities like transportation to
recovery meetings, gym memberships, the amount of staff on site, the quality of daily structure
and more. When considering sober homes, make sure you ask some of the following questions:
● How many clients live in the house?
● Do I get my own bedroom?
● What is your staff to client ratio?
● Do you provide all living necessities?
● Is food included?
● What amenities do you provide?
● Are there any additional financial costs that I need to know about?
● How is medication managed?
● Will you provide transportation to events?
● If I attend an IOP/PHP, can I receive transportation to the outpatient facility?
How to Transition From Sober Living
Leaving sober living can be an incredibly stressful and difficult decision. Once you’ve had time
to create a strong and supportive living ecosystem, it can be daunting to transition to something less structured and conducive for sobriety. Fortunately, there are several steps people can take to successfully transition out of their sober home.
First, people in early recovery should maintain their therapeutic connections. If you’re seeing a
therapist or psychiatrist, you should have a plan to maintain that relationship if possible. For
people who are changing locations completely, you should do some preliminary homework to
secure your medical needs before leaving. This includes finding a psychologist, psychiatrist and
other medical support you’ll need in your new environment.
Similarly, if you’re currently attending outpatient addiction treatment and feel the need to continue, it’s recommended that you first figure out how to maintain these processes before leaving. It can also be very beneficial to have peer support with a group such as 12-step, SMART Recovery, Recovery Dharma, or LifeRing, as well as a Recovery Coach who can help navigate day-to-day struggles.
Another important piece to maintaining your sobriety is moving into a supportive environment.
Some people decide to move in with their family while others choose to move to a city where
they have little to no connections. In any case, it’s important that you consider what your triggers
might be and how to implement strong recovery practices in your new living arrangement.
Regardless of where you transition after sober living, your likelihood of maintaining sobriety is
much higher if you have some sober time under your belt and implement strong support
If you or someone you know is about to leave sober living, our outpatient treatment program
might be able to help the transition more smoothly. Contact us today to learn more about our
program and approach to finding long-term sobriety.