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What is Sober Living?
Unless you live in, know a friend or family member, or are associated with the field of recovery, the term "Sober Living Home" may be somewhat of an enigma to you. Sober living homes are often mistakenly referred to as a Halfway House, Rehab Home, Recovery Support Home, Boarding Home, Shelter and even in some cases (mostly derogatory) as a "Flop House". While some sober living homes may provide some of these services, most do not.
Sober living homes are affordable, alcohol and drug free environments that provide a positive place for peer group recovery support. Sober housing promotes individual recovery by providing an environment that allows the residents to develop individual recovery programs and become self supporting.
The majority of sober living homes are privately owned and operated by an individual or small partnership. Less than a third are registered as a "Non Profit Organization”. Most do not receive government subsidies or grants. However, some of the residents may qualify for individual social security benefits.
The typical sober living home is a single-family residence, duplex or multiunit complex located in a quiet residential neighborhood. The residents are required to follow a strict set of house rules. Violation of the rules can result in assessment of minor financial fines, writing an essay, to immediate ejection from the home.
The single most common rule is a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol. This includes normal everyday medicine cabinet items as, mouthwash, cold medicines, and after-shave or food items such as vanilla. Most sober living homes do random or surprise drug and alcohol testing. The use of 52 proof mouthwash , 70 proof vanilla, opiate or alcohol based cold medicines will cause a false positive test. Not to mention intoxication if consumed in quantities. Other zero tolerance rules include iolence, threats of violence, fighting, harassment, theft, sex on the premises and unexcused absence or violation of curfews.
Each resident is required to be financially self-supporting, paying their own rent and purchasing their own food. The residents are required to work, actively seek employment, or be a student enrolled in an accredited academic or trade school. Those who are permanently disabled and on federal, state or local assistance are required to become involved in service to the home or the community. All residents are required to attend a minimum number of weekly 12 Step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous.
Living is very communal in a sober living home. Residents share the facilities and their rooms. Most sober homes are gender specific. There are very few co-ed sober homes. Location, occupant density and services provided are the primary factors affecting rents. There are no credit checks performed. Utilities are included. The only requirement is a desire to stay clean and sober, follow the house rules and pay your rent on time.
There is one major difference between living in a sober living home and sharing an apartment with another person. The residents of the sober living home are not considered tenants and as such are not protected under tenants' rights laws. Hence, a resident can be ejected on a moment's notice without the due process of eviction procedures. The majority of the sober living homes are privately owned and operated.
The management staff feels that the development of a 12 step program ties within the community is a key factor in providing a strong and long-lasting sobriety. Mandatory meetings, AA/NA meetings are held at the facility located at the main office.