Sober Living & Residential Treatment: What Program is Right for You?
RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT (RTC) AND SOBER LIVING: A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
On July 6, 2008, I arrived at Silver Hill. I was tired. My head had been taken over by alcohol and narcotics. I required immediate medical attention. I stayed at Silver Hill for the next 33 days and began my rehabilitation.
I first spent five days in a medical detox center, where physicians and nurses gradually weaned my body off of alcohol and drugs. The medical staff kept an eye on me 24 hours a day to make sure I didn’t have a seizure (an alcohol withdrawal sign) or any other negative symptoms. I went to the men’s 28-day residence after five days, where I began a month-long educational healing process in which I shared a room with eight to twelve other men on any given day.
The place reminded me of my college fraternity house, without the drinking. There was a lot of laughter and reminiscences about our past. This was the beginning of what is now my favorite aspect of recovery: fellowship. I spent most of my 28 days there in classes learning about the disease of addiction.
We spent time talking about our feelings in groups with other patients. I talked with my therapist about how I’d arrived at this place in my life and what I wanted to do next. I worked out at the gym, read, ate, and relaxed. It’s one of my favorite memories. I was unharmed. I was beginning to feel better.
I didn’t have any drinks or drugs, either. I was secure from my wrath. I was unable to enter the bar. I couldn’t find a beer to take on the train. I was unable to contact my dealer. I was cut off from all of the people, places, and things that used to make me want to drink or do drugs. Still…
We discussed what we would do if or when we felt the need to use it in our groups. We learned about methods that we could use to support ourselves if we were on the verge of collapsing. We never had the opportunity to use any of those things since we were never outside of the therapeutic bubble.
It was all just a game.
In therapy, the most crucial thing that happened to me was that I was introduced to AA. I also attended therapy in a nearby town, where I was introduced to the local recovery community, which I would be able to access as soon as I finished treatment.
That’s exactly what I did. I wouldn’t know anything about the Connecticut recovery scene if I had gone to rehab in Michigan. Residential homes where people in recovery live together are known as sober living homes. All around the country, there are several types of sober living houses. There is most likely one in your town, and if there isn’t, one will soon appear.
THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT ABOUT SOBER HOUSES IS THAT
- These aren’t therapy facilities.
- On-site, there are no doctors, nurses, or therapists.
- The soberest living allows residents to come and go as they wish. A curfew may or may not be imposed.
Residents of sober living facilities travel to work, see their families regularly, go on business trips, and family vacations, see friends, eat meals, and play tennis.
They go about their daily routines. They’re just doing it in a house with other individuals in recovery who are also going about their lives, enjoying the company and camaraderie that exists among people who used to have an alcohol or other drug problem but no longer do.
WHY IS SOBER LIVING SUCH A KEY STEP IN THE RECOVERY PROCESS?
As previously stated, I learned a great deal about healing while in therapy. I learned a lot of things that could help me if I ever feel inclined to drink again. But I never had the opportunity to put them to the test. Residents in sober living live their lives, allowing them to put all of the techniques they gained in treatment to use.
They go to work, where they may be screamed at by a customer or their supervisor. They passed by the tavern where they used to stop for a short drink. They go to that restaurant where the waiter already knows what they want to drink and has it ready for them before they ever ask for it. They get to attend that family get-together when everyone claims to be supportive, but everyone is still drinking.
In the early stages of recovery, real-life events occur. Then they get to go back to their sober living home and hang out with other folks who are going through similar experiences.
It is risk-free. There is no alcohol or drugs present. They are with peers, and this is an opportunity for them to form new, healthy relationships in the early stages of recovery. We call going through these kinds of real-life events “gaining sober reference” at the Lighthouse.
That became my sober reference point because it was the first time I went to a professional athletic event without drinking (I then knew how I would feel, not just theorize about it). I made a sober reference the first time I walked past the pub I had frequented for ten years and didn’t stop in.
I don’t recall stopping for a drink the last time I walked through. It’s a big achievement to be able to do things like this while still being able to get into The Lighthouse (or any sober house) and chat about it with your friends. It also helps to know that they were expecting you home without having consumed any alcohol.
It takes time to establish new habits. I needed to be around other guys who had completed early rehabilitation (stick with the winners). Because everyone is in the same house, living in a sober living home makes it simpler to connect with others. Whether it’s a residential stay or an Intensive Outpatient program, most people’s journey to recovery begins (and concludes) in a therapeutic setting (IOP).
Sober-living homes are sometimes overlooked as a viable option. Living with us while getting comfortable in your new recovery skin may be tremendously useful and, in many circumstances, the correct amount of assistance in the early days, as we’ve observed at The Lighthouse.
To read more articles on substance abuse, visit our website for more.
Our sober house directory is a great tool to help you find homes, but it’s up to you to find the right fit. While certification and a good outward appearance are a start, do more digging before you commit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! While many homes offer fantastic sober living, we’re partial to Vanderburgh House, but that’s because they helped build this directory.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to open a sober house, we would encourage you to reach out to Vanderburgh Communities, the first organization offering sober living charters in the United States. Keep your head up and take it one day at a time!