A sober living home (SLH) is a safe, structured, and supportive environment for addicts on the path to recovery. Often, they serve as a transition between rehab and a return to the challenges of mainstream society. You will want to make sure that the SLH you are entering into is certified either by NARR (National Alliance for Recovery Residences) or state certification, for instance FARR (Florida Alliance for Recovery Residences).
Of course, all sober living homes are different, and individuals may thrive better in some homes than in others. If you or a loved one is considering a sober living home, ask these five questions to ensure you find the right fit.
What services does the SLH provide?
Most sober living homes don’t provide treatment, but many do provide support services. The National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) categorizes sober homes into levels based on the type and intensity of support and services offered.
The higher the NARR level, the more support and services are in place. NARR specifies that no level is “better” than any other; rather, the level of need should be matched with the level of support offered.
Ask about services like peer counseling, educational groups, recreational activities, assistance finding employment, and connections to important community and clinical resources. Request to see a resident calendar, which should list activities, events, groups, etc.
You can also ask about the building itself. How many people share a bedroom? A bathroom? Are meals provided? Who maintains the building?
What are the rules?
All sober living homes have rules in order to provide structure and support for residents. It’s very important to see a copy of these rules before deciding on an SLH.
Not only is it necessary to be aware of the rules that will govern your stay, but the rules will also give you an idea of how much structure will be provided.
Rules may include curfew, meeting requirements, telephone limitations, required employment, drug testing, etc. You may have to report your whereabouts and earn passes away from the home.
There’s also likely a minimum stay requirement. A quality sober home should have limited turnaround. If residents are frequently leaving after a week or two, the home may have a problem with relapses or unbearable conditions.
What are the costs?
Of course, you want to know that the sober home is within your budget. Generally, homes at the higher NARR levels will be more expensive than those at the lower end of the spectrum.
You’ll want to ask what fees, aside from rent, you’ll be required to pay. Are you expected to pay for drug testing? What about food? Are utilities separate or included? Are there fines for breaking house rules? Some homes, for example, may have penalties like a 25 cent fine for cursing.
You need to be aware of all possible expenses in order to calculate an accurate monthly budget.
What is the policy if a resident relapses?
You need to know that the sober home does not allow active drug and alcohol users to remain on site. Otherwise, the SLH is not truly a safe environment for recovering addicts.
A zero-tolerance policy for such relapses should be in place. At the same time, it’s ideal for the SLH to assist relapsing residents. For instance, the home should direct the individual to a safe place, hopefully somewhere with higher levels of treatment. Emergency contact information should be used, and referrals should be provided to other beneficial resources.
Sometimes, residents who relapse may be considered for readmission after a specified time period. This is an acceptable practice, but it should be limited in order to prevent a pattern of relapses within the SLH.
Can you describe your staff and staff ratio?
Ask about the staff’s degrees, certifications, and training. The greater your needs, the more qualified you’ll want the staff to be.
Staff ratio is also important because it determines the amount of individual attention and care you’ll receive. Ask if a house manager or other staff member is on site 24/7. It’s best if a neutral third party is always available to handle potential disagreements and the responsibility of dealing with residents who may be intoxicated.
Asking these five questions should help you find an SLH that can adequately support your sobriety and keep you on the road to recovery!