Many women find that after they have completed an inpatient drug detox and treatment program, they need more than just outpatient aftercare. Some of these women come from abusive homes in which drug and alcohol abuse is both common and expected. If these women returned to the communities they once knew well, the temptation to return to drug use could be almost overwhelming, and it could prevent these women from developing the sober lives they crave.
Some women live in areas full of reminders about their addictions. They may pass by their dealers on the street, or they may be forced to work with people with whom they once took drugs. With each reminder, the temptation to use may start to grow and grow. Other women simply feel that they need a little more time in order to put the lessons they learned in rehab to good use. They know what they will need to do, but they just need a little time in order to learn how to put those lessons in place and apply them each day. A program that lasts for just a few months might not provide these women with all of the tools they feel they need in order to truly move forward with life. For women like this, returning home could signal disaster. A more supportive option would be a sober living home. Here, women are provided with a safe place and they’re given the opportunity to spend a little more time in a drug-free environment, away from temptation, where they can continue to heal before returning home.
Our landscaped grounds here in Palm Springs, Florida are conducive to healing and growth, and our clients are welcome to stay until they feel solid enough in recovery to move on. This article will explain what sober living communities are designed to do, and how they might be of immense help for women in the early stages of recovery.
The Myths Surrounding Sober Living Homes
Few really understand what exactly a sober living home is unless they’ve lived in one or visited a family member or friend who was a resident. Most assume they are one step up from prisons with someone standing guard to make sure that residents don’t use drugs or alcohol. Even people who live next to a sober living community might not understand what it is that the facilities are designed to do. As a study in the journal Addiction Research and Theory put it, many people who live next to large, densely populated sober living homes seem to view the facilities with distrust. It’s possible these neighbors believe that the communities are utilized only by people who are dangerous, with long criminal records, and that these people might burst out of their home at any moment and wreak havoc on the community at large.
The truth is something quite different. In fact, if people understood who lived in sober living facilities, and they took the time to understand the goals these people were trying to meet through their participation, perhaps they would be more eager to support the practice, and perhaps they'd even look for homes located near these facilities.
Most sober living homes are regular apartments, condos and houses. These facilities may have small signs that highlight what the programs are designed to do and whom they are designed to help, but many facilities blend in with the surroundings in a completely natural way, making it difficult for people to even see that the facility is any different from any other home in the community. The interior of the homes might also be quite similar to any other residence, with communal living spaces and smaller bedrooms. Some facilities offer shared kitchens for group meals, but many others do not.
The people who live in sober living communities come from all walks of life. A study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that people who have low incomes and who reside in urban areas with few housing choices are the most likely to benefit from sober living communities, but almost anyone who needs a little help to get on the proper path to sobriety would benefit from membership in a sober home.
While the people who live in these facilities may have many differences in terms of education, income and background, they all do have one thing in common. They are all new to recovery, and they all require a drug-free living space. In order to support that drug-free lifestyle, most facilities have strict rules regarding substance use and abuse.
- No alcohol or drugs are allowed on the premises in any form at any time.
- Those who leave the grounds are expected to return sober and without bringing any substances with them when they return.
- Visitors are also expected to be clean and sober.
- Urine testing might be required if a resident is suspected of breaking these rules.
It might seem harsh to endure rules like this, but they are designed to help reduce temptations and ensure that the home is free of any damaging drug and alcohol use. Facilities that ask people to share living quarters need to ensure that all people are staying sober, so one inebriated person doesn't cause all of the other residents to relapse in a sort of domino effect.
Understanding the Community
According to a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, sober living communities are typically run by addicts who are also in recovery, and the leadership tends to rotate. This means that the rules are enforced by people who have also struggled with addiction, and typically, the person who is in charge is the person who has lived in the community for the longest period of time. People who enter the community are often given very little freedom and very few responsibilities, and as they prove themselves through their participation in the sober living community, they may be able to take on more privileges and also take on more responsibilities within the community as well.
Often, sober living communities also ask residents to either look for work, go to work or volunteer in the community. These are the sorts of tasks that most people are expected to do on a normal day, and addictions can make it difficult for people to handle these basic tasks. Some people may be out of the habit of getting up at a specified time, going to work each day and then coming home to chores each night. Instead, they may only be accustomed to the rhythm of buying, using and then buying drugs again. Sober living communities can help restore a more traditional way of life, and this can be transformative for some people. For example, a study in the Journal of Drug Education found that people who participated in a sober living community were more likely to maintain employment, and having employment made them rely less on public sources of income. In addition, having employment made them feel more self-reliant and comfortable with their skills, and this made them less likely to rely on addictions. In other words, focusing on routines can completely transform people's lives in ways both large and small.
Building Up Support
Sober living communities also rely on the power of positive interactions to help people heal. People who live in sober living communities are living with other people who are also in recovery, and as a result, they can share a variety of tips with one another. Sometimes, this sharing takes place in formal support group meetings, in which residents are encouraged to share their stories. Other times, this sharing takes place informally, during shared meals or chats in the hallway. Over time, residents learn to trust one another and even rely on one another. The ties may even go deeper. According to a study in the journal Qualitative Health Research, some people in these communities form family ties with the other residents in the community, and they even report feeling as though those they live with are more supportive of sobriety than are the relatives they have blood ties with. These connections can be powerful in the recovery process.
- Restricting visitation hours
- Restricting hours in which women can leave the grounds
- Limiting telephone calls to friends and family
- Mandating attendance at group meetings
These rules are designed to encourage residents to stay connected with those they live with, rather than building up connections with those they are attempting to leave behind within the community. Since the community can be such a powerful force for healing, it makes sense to encourage residents to connect and stay connected with others who have the capacity to understand and help them.
Women and Sober Living Homes
Some women may find that, while in their addiction, their actions made it impossible for them to return home after treatment. Some need more time after they finish their treatment to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the responsibilities waiting for them. And since women tend to rely on other women for support and guidance, it's likely that women would be unique beneficiaries of the help a sober living community can provide. In fact, it seems as though the model might be tailor-made to meet the needs of women.
While these communities can be transformative for women, they might also be rare. It is estimated that there are as many as 75,000 beds available in sober living homes around the country, the split between those available for women and men are not even. In fact, it is believed that not even 20 percent of these beds are reserved for women. This might make it difficult for women to access the help they might need in order to recover.
Help at The Orchid
At The Orchid, we take the basic concept of a sober living community and we elevate it to another level. Here, you are surrounded only by women, both on staff and in the house, who are also in recovery. The community is warm and welcoming, and at The Orchid, every bed is reserved for a woman. Every resident, (whether she is here for professional drug detox services, drug addiction treatment or for sober living) and every staff member is female and the therapies available to those who live here were all chosen based on their ability to speak to the special needs of women in recovery.
We also make it easy for women to access the sober living community model. We provide sober living facilities right on the grounds, and we handle all of the paperwork in order to make the move happen quickly and smoothly. If you undergo a detox and drug treatment here, your transition into sober living is seamless.
We want to help as many women as possible, so we don't restrict our intake based on where you went through your primary treatment program. If you choose to join us later in your recovery, you will be warmly welcomed.
At The Orchid, there are certain visiting hours and curfew restrictions that apply as well as responsibilities residents have on site. We are careful to explain all of these rules in detail, so all our residents know what will be expected of them before they enter the treatment program and begin receiving care. Other than that, you will be free to develop or continue your individual recovery program, individual therapy sessions and join the relevant support groups.
If you'd like to know more about the sober living community model we provide at The Orchid, please contact us today. We have operators standing by to take your call.