Sober living homes offer a safe and stable living environment for people new to recovery. The optimal length of stay in sober living really depends on the individual. Some experts recommend a sober living stay of at least 90 days, while others stress that a year or longer offers the best possible outcomes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that treatment lasting under 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and the same may be said for sober living homes.1
What Are Sober Living Homes?
Sober living homes are residential facilities that provide and promote a sober lifestyle. They help people transition from addiction treatment back to the “real” world with a high level of support from recovering peers.
In addition to a drug- and alcohol-free environment, sober living homes provide some structure and require residents to adhere to the house rules. These typically include attending house meetings, pitching in with chores, paying rent and utilities on time and participating in a recovery support group like AA.
Some sober living homes limit residents’ stay, requiring them to find another living situation after a specified time. Others allow residents to remain indefinitely, as long as they follow the house rules.
What’s the Ideal Length of Stay in Sober Living Homes?
The ideal length of stay in sober living facilities is different for everyone. For some, three months is enough time to get the hang of a sober lifestyle and move on to a less structured environment. For others, a stay of a year or more is optimal.
Some of the factors that can help determine your ideal length of stay in sober living include:
Your coping skills. Coping with stress, cravings and other triggers takes practice, and sober living offers a safe, supportive environment in which to hone these and other essential life skills. Ideally, you should stay in sober living until you have the skills you need to be fully on your own.
Your comfort level in flying solo. You may not feel completely comfortable leaving the highly supportive environment of a sober living facility after just three, six, or even nine months. If you don’t feel ready to strike out on your own, you’re not quite ready to leave.
Your finances. While many sober living facilities are comparable to other rentals in price, some are a little more expensive. Whether you continue living in a sober residence may depend in part on how expensive it is and whether you can continue to afford living there.
Where you’re going. Consider the safety, stability and supportiveness of the living situation you’re transitioning to. Although you may be looking for more independence or just something different, sober living is always preferred to a living situation that may not be sober, safe or stable.
Are Sober Living Homes Worth It?
A comprehensive study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that sober living has numerous benefits for people in early recovery.2 In addition to promoting long-term abstinence—nearly half of the study’s participants were still sober after 18 months—an adequate length of stay in sober living improves employment and symptoms of mental illness and reduces arrests.
If you’re looking for a little extra support as you transition from treatment back to the community, sober living is a highly supportive, nurturing and safe environment. Here you can continue to develop the skills you need for successful long-term recovery, wherever you are.