By Megan Krause

As you go about the business of getting a sponsor, working the steps, getting a job (if you don’t already have one) and otherwise putting a new sober life together, the matter of your living arrangements needs to be addressed.

What is sober living? Do you need to go to it? What if you don’t want to? But what if your sponsor suggests it?

Take a breath and keep reading. Today we’re discussing sober living and whether or not you should go.

What Is Sober Living?

Sober livingSober living houses are alcohol- and drug-free living environments for those who are trying to stay sober. In some parts of the country, the term is used interchangeably with “halfway house.”

A sober living environment can be in a single-family home, or it may be some kind of community-style living arrangement of suites or apartments. Staff members who are also in recovery living on site, and there are strict rules regarding abstinence and participation in recovery.

In sober living, you’ll usually find:

  • There are requirements about attending 12-step meetings and working with a sponsor
  • Everybody has a chore and a responsibility to the larger community
  • There’s a curfew, although you are generally free to come and go as you please (within a few confines, depending on house rules)
  • In some cases you may get increasing levels of freedom the longer you live there and prove yourself
  • There are random drug and breathalyzer tests to make sure everyone in the house is serious about recovery

Many people go from inpatient treatment into a sober living environment, because it serves as a bridge between the safety of treatment and the “real” world.

So, who should go into sober living? Should you?

You Should Consider Moving Into a Structured Sober Living Home If…

Sober living provides the structure that so many addicts and alcoholics in early recovery need. Consider moving into one if:

  • You don’t have a strong network of support. Do you have sober friends? Sober living affords you the opportunity to connect with people who are on the same path as you.
  • You don’t trust yourself. Sober living is a good place to be while you build yourself a foundation for recovery. If you’re still wobbly, you may not do well living on your own just yet.
  • You aren’t actively working a program of recovery under the guidance of a sponsor. This one speaks for itself. Get going!
  • You haven’t had the requisite spiritual experience. Time and time again we hear that a Higher Power has done for alcoholics and addicts what they could not do for themselves. If you’re not on different footing, you might be headed for trouble.

You Sound Like You’re Ready to Do Your Own Sober Thing If…

Conversely, you just might be ready to live on your own if:

  • sober livingYou’re plugged in. You have a sponsor, you’ve worked your steps, and you have a homegroup. You’re in a good groove with this recovery thing.
  • You’re of service. You have service commitments and you’re willing to sponsor others. Giving back feels great!
  • You’ve had a spiritual awakening, you’re committed, and you’re free. You don’t have to be walking on clouds and sliding down rainbows 24/7, but in general, your roots grasp new soil.

You have to admit: Decision-making isn’t one of our top skills when we’re early in recovery. Take the matter to your sponsor and your god, and use the guidelines here to make the best decision for you.