Recovering from addiction is a process, the success of which often rests on the length of treatment – the longer the treatment stay the better chance of success. Most reputable treatment facilities recommend a 90 day stay; centers with 30 day lengths of stay will strongly encourage that clients check into an extended care facility afterwards. A number of treatment centers will recommend to clients with a long history of substance abuse, especially chronic relapsers, move into a “sober living” home after the completion of their treatment stay.
Sober living homes can be an opportunity for people who are new to recovery to transition back into the swing of everyday life in the company of others working towards the same goal. Sober homes vary in size and cost, some simply require weekly drug testing with 12-Step meeting attendance, while others will add to that by holding weekly house processing groups. The houses are usually managed by someone in recovery, charged with overseeing the day-to-day routines of the clients. Early recovery can be a difficult time, chock full of triggers and cravings; staying at a sober living home after treatment can serve as an extra level of protection.
With staggering opioid addiction rates across the United States, more people than ever are in need of addiction treatment services. Providing access to treatment has proved challenging in a number of areas of the country, which has resulted in a push from government officials to increase funding for addiction treatment. The opioid epidemic has also led to an increased demand for sober living homes, which has led to some questionable practices among people trying to exploit those in recovery.
Unlike treatment centers, sober living homes are hardly ever managed by credentialed professionals and are subject to little regulation, the Associated Press reports. The lack of oversight has led to cases of insurance fraud. Some transitional living homes will even allow clients to use drugs or alcohol, as long as rent is still being paid. Allowing clients to “use” could have a fatal outcome; many sober living homes are housing opioid addicts, whose choice of drugs can lead to overdose.
“In most states, there is not a regulatory body because recovery residences aren’t considered treatment,” said Amy Mericle, a scientist at Alcohol Research Group, a California nonprofit that studies alcohol and drug addiction.
Growing concerns about lack of oversight has prompted some states to pass or consider passing legislation, according to the article. Such laws would require the inspection and certification of sober living homes, and subjecting them to consumer protections and ethical codes.
It is important to point out that the sober homes guilty of exploiting addiction for profit are not the rule, there are a number of transitional living spaces that provide a healthy, structured environment – giving tenants a real shot at long-term recovery. “The ones that are good are fantastic,” said Pam Rodriguez, CEO of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities.
At PACE Recovery Center’s Transitional Living Program we offer an exclusive gender-specific (all male), transitional living, alcohol addiction and drug rehab for men struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. Our transitional program focuses on assisting our clients in learning how to manage both vocational/school goals and addiction recovery commitments.