For many areas around the world, “sober livings” are becoming an invasive weed in the pristine flower gardens of suburbia. At least, that’s how many neighborhood homeowners would describe it. Growing numbers of recovery centers are at maximum capacity trying to accommodate the millions worldwide in need of addiction treatment and aftercare. Most processes of recovery include several months in a sober living home.
What is sober living?
Sober living is a designated sober house that offers structure and accountability to persons recovering from alcoholism and/or addiction. Each sober living home is different. Generally rules and procedures include:
- Regular urine testing and breathalyzing
- Household chores and responsibilities
- House meetings
- Attendance slip for twelve step meetings
- Some houses may require a roommate to obtain a job, be in school, or be in a continuing recovery program like an intensive outpatient.
Serving as a safe place of guaranteed sobriety, sober livings are a transitional service in recovery.
Shame and stigma surrounding addiction still largely circumvents and interferes with recovery. When applying for sober living permits, neighborhoods get quite frustrated and protest. Whole cities and counties have enacted moratoriums to prevent the development of sober living homes.
Fighting against civil law is just one difficulty faced when opening a sober living in a suburban area. Zoning regulations often get in the way, limiting how land can be used and how much parking can be allotted to a single household. Cost is another major roadblock for opening a sober living. In the first months, the overhead is significant until the house fills up entirely. Money coming in from rental contracts isn’t always enough, either. Permits, urine testing, staff compensation, and even HOA fees can be costly.
Other Inhibiting Factors
Like with any recovery business, there are good guys and there are bad guys. Sober living homes can be immaculate and efficiently run, or they can essentially be flophouses. The internet is flooded with horror stories of poorly run sober livings which invite crime, chaos, and danger into family neighborhoods. Many families feel that their children are at a higher risk of finding and using drugs when there is a sober living nearby. Additionally, many addicts have criminal background, a frightening fact for many.
Thankfully, there are successful sober living homes to blaze the trail for societal acceptance. Contributing to the community through service work and volunteerism, some sober livings make their mark with a positive emphasis.