Is Now The Right Time to Leave My Sober Living Home? – Every step taken by someone on the journey to recovery from substance addiction can only be made after much thought, consideration and if possible, a healthy dose of expert advice.
Taking the pretty big step to leave the relative safety and security of your sober living home, for example, is one of the steps along your recovery journey where you have to be 100% certain t’s the right step to take – and to take now.
You’ve probably never heard this next analogy before.
Provided to me by a psychologist at the drug rehab in Arizona that I attended many, many years ago, and on my last tactual treatment day there, what he said went kind of like this:
“Have you ever seen the Indiana Jones movie when he searches for the Holy Grail with his Pop? Yes, Sean Connery, the old Bond, that’s right.”
“Do you remember the scene with the invisible bridge Indy has to walk across? You do? Good. That’s what you need to do now.”
“The scene’s called the “Leap of Faith”; in the movie. It’s a good lesson to learn.”
“You will sometimes have to take a leap of faith in your recovery journey – across an invisible bridge. My advice? Remember this now. Always, always watch your step.”
That little nugget of advice – only given to me as we said our goodbyes in the corridor, by the way – has stayed with me ever since. I like to think it’s kept me on the right path, as I have had many years of continuous sobriety since then.
After attending a drug or alcohol rehab, many newly-sober people find accommodation in a sober living home as they transition out of rehab into a more independent lifestyle, with more personal freedoms.
What is a Sober Living Home?
Sober living homes (sometimes known as recovery housing) provide different levels of help support in a safe, sober, communal living environment. For many, they provide an essential stepping stone in the recovery process and are ideal for those who are clearly not yet ready to face life’s everyday stressors, which are known to be dangerous triggers to relapse.
Analytical research confirms that living in a sober home provides many benefits for those in recovery. In fact, in one study, they found residents of sober living homes:
- Experienced fewer problems with substance abuse
- Better employment rates
- Fewer arrests, and
- Maintained more stable housing after leaving their sober living home
However, these types of homes are not intended to be permanent accommodation. At some point, a person must move on, and learn to live both independently and in sobriety.
In fact, according to a National Institutes of Health published article on “Sober Living,” the average amount of time people spend in sober living programs is between 6 to 9 months.
Furthermore, factors that affect how long people do stay include:
- The severity of their addiction and/or mental health conditions
- Their financial situation
- Their “family home” circumstances (eg. is it supportive?)
- Their history of relapse
- Their level of personal accountability
So here it is: Another “invisible bridge” on the journey to finding your very own “Holy Grail” – a long-term and sustainable recovery from your drug or alcohol addiction.
The question in our title asks: Is Now The Right Time to Leave My Sober Living Home? Do not fear. There are clear signs we can share here that the time is right for you to leave, but remember good ol’ Indiana Jones, and always watch your step as you cross the invisible bridge.
To see if you’re ready to leave your sober living home, and transition to a more independent life, with only limited support, answer the following 5 questions as honestly and as truthfully as you can…
#1. Are You Active in Your Recovery Program and in a Sober Community?
One of the most important aspects of recovery is remaining sober through being fully active in your recovery program. This means:
- Consistently and regularly attending and participating in sober group support meetings
- Attending your therapy regularly
- Taking any mental health medications you may need, and
- Using healthy coping mechanisms
Furthermore, you need to be active in a structured community of sober people. This can be your Narcotics or Alcoholics Anonymous group, an organized sober social group, your Sober Living group, volunteering for an addiction charity or rehab, and so on.
If you have remained active in both your recovery program and a sober community, you may be ready to move out of your sober living home. Next question…
#2. Are You in a Stable Financial Situation?
Sometimes, the rent you pay in a sober living home is lower than the price of renting an apartment on your own. So it is absolutely vital to make sure that you can afford this new place to live, you are in a stable financial situation, and you are able to cope with sudden, unexpected debits on your finances.
It is critical you are confident of this and have done all the necessary calculations before leaving your sober living program. Sadly yet unsurprisingly, it is all too common for people to leave sober living without being in a stable financial situation with the proper funds, find themselves in difficulties later on, and become stressed to the point of relapse.
#3. Do You Have a Plan for Life After Sober Living?
Before leaving your sober living home, you must always ensure you have a solid, detailed plan for what happens now with the next steps of your journey to recovery from your substance addiction.
Leaving your sober living community without a comprehensive idea or concept of what comes next for you is to literally set yourself up to fail. With someone in recovery from addiction, that means a relapse.
Therefore, your plan should include detailed information on what you will do with your free time, employment, academic or vocational course of study, or other recovery positive activities.
# 4. Do You Have a Strong Sober Support Network?
Living independently after being in rehab with structured addiction treatment, and in sober living programs can prove to be extremely stressful, especially in the beginning. You may even experience a number of new potential relapse triggers.
Therefore, it is vital you have a strong support network in place to help you cope in these new strange times – people you can rely on 100% to be there for you 100%. It’s important to have a group of socially sober friends – as well as trusted loved ones, a sponsor, or a recovery counsellor who can be there for you when times get stressful.
#5. Have You Consulted With Peers, Family, Sponsor, or a Recovery Coach About Leaving Sober Living?
Lastly, before leaving your sober home, consult with the people you trust the most, particularly your sponsor or therapist. They are best placed to be able to assess whether your recovery so far is strong enough for you to transition out of sober living and into a more independent life.
IMPORTANT: If any of the truthful and honest answers to any of these questions is “No” – think again. Perhaps you are not ready and need to work more on your recovery in the more secure environment of your sober living home.
If you have ticked every box and confidently answered “Yes” to every one of the questions, now really is the time for you to leave sober living. For that, good luck and stay safe.
And never forget the invisible bridge.