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September 9, 2015 Marissa ObrienAftercare0

28 Days Later

Small Step Img

Why planning an after-care program is just as important as in-patient treatment.

Many of us perceive treatment as essentially a 30-day in-patient program where an individual receives 1-on-1 intensive therapy to relieve them of their addictions. For many of us, 30 days is a major commitment, requiring an individual to put aside their obligations to their family, career and lifestyle in order to reconnect with themselves and reclaim a new sense of purpose and intention.

But for the majority who achieve sustained recovery, it requires at least 90 days or more of concentrated commitment in a safe environment to cultivate legitimate recovery. Do you remember the last time you mastered something new? It more than likely took you much longer than a month to become an expert. Nevertheless, the initial concept of spending 3 to 6 months or more in a program of recovery is typically, if not always, met with divergence. Especially as our commitments become greater, we become more reluctant to give up our time even for something as important as getting sober.

However, it is the initial weeks and months after leaving an in-patient rehab program where patients are the most susceptible to relapse. Triggering situations such as returning home or to a career can, with remarkable quickness, spiral a newly sober individual back into their same addictive patterns. And since no one is capable of conceptualizing how susceptible they are at this point, it’s imperative that an aftercare program is explained during treatment and initiated immediately afterward.

Some of the cornerstone elements of aftercare include accountability, comfortability and sustainability. Depending on each person’s own needs and resources, this can be achieved by scheduling out-patient services with a treatment facility or therapist, enrolling in a transitional living home or committing to an aggressive submersion into the recovery community, typically attending 90 meetings in 90 days and finding a sponsor and support system.

During this transitional phase, it is highly recommended that an individual be placed in a sober-living home where they can continue to receive regularly scheduled therapy while maneuvering into real-life situations. While this may initially seem uncomfortable, newly sober individuals typically feel safer and more connected with other individuals in recovery, which helps them to work past this difficult phase. Accountability is monitored as all members are encouraged to attend 12-step fellowship groups, meet with a therapist, secure work and contribute to community chores all while remaining sober. These temporary housing situations, located practically anywhere throughout the country, are comfortable, affordable and free from the outside stressors that may cause relapse.

There are plenty of options in terms of an aftercare programming, all of which are typically tailored to an individual’s personal needs. Professionals discover that they can return to work while living in a safe environment tucked away from home. People with limited resources can afford a semi-permanent housing situation and secure a stable job while growing alongside others in the program. Mothers can choose a facility that allows them to bring young children. And otherwise committed individuals can attend out-patient programming for months following treatment that fits with their schedule.

The truth is, time flies. Many of us, or our loved ones, have spent years in addiction waiting for the right time to get help. I have heard countless individuals explain how everything seemed to slow down once they achieved sobriety, allowing them to finally savor in the life they always wished for. In addition, they gained mental and emotional freedom to think, feel, love, dream, imagine and inspire while beforehand, their mental space was filled with stress, anxiety, regret, resentment, depression and most of all, fear. Mary Augustine once said, “We become happier, much happier, when we realize that life is an opportunity rather than an obligation.” Let you or your loved one experience the opportunity of life through a long-term commitment to recovery.

 



Getting Sober at any Age

…and finding happiness & success too

If you’re someone who has discovered that they are either too young to get sober, or perhaps too old, I can assure you age is not a factor, but merely an excuse. Don’t allow your disease to talk you out of this. I’ve heard countless people praise young members within the recovery community for having found sobriety in their youth. You can feel their deep desire to have had the courage to do the same. What I notice is their longing to have the years they wasted back, and to be able to reverse all of the damage they have done in that time.

Let’s not assume that “late” even merely refers to age. I’ve known many alcoholics and addicts who by all accounts seemed far past the point of saving. They had habits that should have long ago killed them, despite their youth. Yet, I’ve witnessed some of the most severe cases return to sanity. You can find plenty of these inspiring stories in our Big Book, which gives any suffering addict hope that it really never is too late to recover.

Granted, getting sober at a young age will strip you of some of the wilder times you may have waiting ahead. And often, that is a deterring factor. Or perhaps you’re worried life won’t be enjoyable any longer without the drugs and alcohol. But if you’ve reached a point, like the majority of us, where your use is inhibiting you from the joys in life, your ambitions, is ruining your relationships and preventing you from most if not all of your goals, then you will find that sobriety will not hinder your life, it is actually the only thing that may save it.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have climbed down the ladder to rock bottom at a young age however. An older member of our fellowship, a gentleman at the age of 75, shared one day that he had recently celebrated an anniversary. Assuming he had many years, the group members were surprised to hear him say he was celebrating 1 year sober. The man stated that the last year had been the happiest of his life. He had reconnected with his children, his grandchildren and had found a completely new level of happiness he had never imagined for himself. This story, and many others like it, are the tales of inspiration that keep many members spiritually connected to the promises of our program. It also reminds us that we are never too old to experience self-discovery, true happiness and to learn.

If you’re still not convinced of the irrelevance of age, here are a few other success stories reached at an unlikely time:

  • At age 7, Mozart wrote his 1st symphony
  • At just 17, Joan of Arc led an army in defense of France
  • At 21, Fred DeLuca co-founded Subway Restaurants with just $1,000 in the bank
  • At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh picked up a paint brush for the very first time
  • Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was 40
  • At age 45, George Foreman recaptured the heavyweight championship with a 10th round knockout, becoming the oldest person ever to win the heavyweight championship
  • Ray Kroc founded MacDonald’s at age 57
  • At 86 Ruth Rothfarb ran the Boston Marathon in just over 5 hours

 

No matter what your age is, embracing recovery is like hitting a “restart” button on your life. It is a spiritual rebirth. Our fellowship gives us a perfectly designed plan of action to remain teachable, to practice honesty and to clean away the wreckage of our past.

It also allows us to build a future of our dreams. If you’re young, our program enables you to journey through life with integrity and gives you the optimal environment to succeed and to look back with gratitude. If you’ve spent many years in your disease and have reached a mature age where the future doesn’t seem as bright, don’t be deceived. By this point, having had real-life experience, you’ve been given the opportunity to discover what your needs, desires and tastes are in addition to understanding what it feels like to fail.

I recently heard another member share that he had experienced great wealth and success, but was failing in the game of life. When he got sober, he humbled himself by taking a low-level job and working his way up again, much like he did for his personal life by working the 12-steps. By the time he got sober, he knew what his tastes and interests were. He knew what it felt like to fail, which made it easy to do things differently this time. He also experienced re-growth, having built his life back up from the foundation. Without having had a lifetime of experience, he would not have so successfully trail blazed his sobriety and shared his story to other alcoholics.

Remember, it’s never too late to change your life if you are still alive. Each of us has a desire to win the lottery in life. So often we hear stories of amazing success, joy and happiness. Often, especially as a suffering addict, those dreams seem completely unrealistic. But in reality, recovery – at any age – is practically guaranteed if you follow this simple plan of recovery outlined in the 12-steps. Diane Ackerman once said “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. While you may not achieve great fame or release a Nobel Peace Prize winning novel, you will give yourself the opportunity to live a life that you never thought imaginable – a sober one.

 

…and finding happiness & success too

If you’re someone who has discovered that they are either too young to get sober, or perhaps too old, I can assure you age is not a factor, but merely an excuse. Don’t allow your disease to talk you out of this. I’ve heard countless people praise young members within the recovery community for having found sobriety in their youth. You can feel their deep desire to have had the courage to do the same. What I notice is their longing to have the years they wasted back, and to be able to reverse all of the damage they have done in that time.

Let’s not assume that “late” even merely refers to age. I’ve known many alcoholics and addicts who by all accounts seemed far past the point of saving. They had habits that should have long ago killed them, despite their youth. Yet, I’ve witnessed some of the most severe cases return to sanity. You can find plenty of these inspiring stories in our Big Book, which gives any suffering addict hope that it really never is too late to recover.

Granted, getting sober at a young age will strip you of some of the wilder times you may have waiting ahead. And often, that is a deterring factor. Or perhaps you’re worried life won’t be enjoyable any longer without the drugs and alcohol. But if you’ve reached a point, like the majority of us, where your use is inhibiting you from the joys in life, your ambitions, is ruining your relationships and preventing you from most if not all of your goals, then you will find that sobriety will not hinder your life, it is actually the only thing that may save it.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have climbed down the ladder to rock bottom at a young age however. An older member of our fellowship, a gentleman at the age of 75, shared one day that he had recently celebrated an anniversary. Assuming he had many years, the group members were surprised to hear him say he was celebrating 1 year sober. The man stated that the last year had been the happiest of his life. He had reconnected with his children, his grandchildren and had found a completely new level of happiness he had never imagined for himself. This story, and many others like it, are the tales of inspiration that keep many members spiritually connected to the promises of our program. It also reminds us that we are never too old to experience self-discovery, true happiness and to learn.

If you’re still not convinced of the irrelevance of age, here are a few other success stories reached at an unlikely time:

  • At age 7, Mozart wrote his 1st symphony
  • At just 17, Joan of Arc led an army in defense of France
  • At 21, Fred DeLuca co-founded Subway Restaurants with just $1,000 in the bank
  • At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh picked up a paint brush for the very first time
  • Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was 40
  • At age 45, George Foreman recaptured the heavyweight championship with a 10th round knockout, becoming the oldest person ever to win the heavyweight championship
  • Ray Kroc founded MacDonald’s at age 57
  • At 86 Ruth Rothfarb ran the Boston Marathon in just over 5 hours

 

No matter what your age is, embracing recovery is like hitting a “restart” button on your life. It is a spiritual rebirth. Our fellowship gives us a perfectly designed plan of action to remain teachable, to practice honesty and to clean away the wreckage of our past.

It also allows us to build a future of our dreams. If you’re young, our program enables you to journey through life with integrity and gives you the optimal environment to succeed and to look back with gratitude. If you’ve spent many years in your disease and have reached a mature age where the future doesn’t seem as bright, don’t be deceived. By this point, having had real-life experience, you’ve been given the opportunity to discover what your needs, desires and tastes are in addition to understanding what it feels like to fail.

I recently heard another member share that he had experienced great wealth and success, but was failing in the game of life. When he got sober, he humbled himself by taking a low-level job and working his way up again, much like he did for his personal life by working the 12-steps. By the time he got sober, he knew what his tastes and interests were. He knew what it felt like to fail, which made it easy to do things differently this time. He also experienced re-growth, having built his life back up from the foundation. Without having had a lifetime of experience, he would not have so successfully trail blazed his sobriety and shared his story to other alcoholics.

Remember, it’s never too late to change your life if you are still alive. Each of us has a desire to win the lottery in life. So often we hear stories of amazing success, joy and happiness. Often, especially as a suffering addict, those dreams seem completely unrealistic. But in reality, recovery – at any age – is practically guaranteed if you follow this simple plan of recovery outlined in the 12-steps. Diane Ackerman once said “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. While you may not achieve great fame or release a Nobel Peace Prize winning novel, you will give yourself the opportunity to live a life that you never thought imaginable – a sober one.

 



It is extremely common for those who abuse alcohol and other mind and mood-altering substances to suffer from some underlying psychological disorder, and begin use initially as a way to cope with undiagnosed and untreated symptoms of said disorder. The most common co-occurring disorders amongst addicts and alcoholics are depression and anxiety. Those who suffer from anxiety will typically use alcohol and other depressants in order to calm their nerves, and sobering up can be difficult seeing as the intense discomfort of severe nervousness will come back in full and then some. Early recovery in itself is anxiety producing – couple this reality with a natural inclination towards anxiety and continuous panic attacks are more than likely. Fortunately, there are many ways to tame anxiousness and attain total relaxation without the use of drugs or alcohol. Here are several ways to overcome your anxiety naturally.

Overcome Your Anxiety Naturally

Listed below are 7 wonderful ways to kick anxiety naturally.

  1. Herbal remedies.

Chamomile, St. John’s Wort, and Valerian Root have all been proven to help relax the mind and body, reducing stress and helping to alleviate anxiety. Try taking each in supplement form, or look for a specialty tea store that offers a calming brew you can whip up before bedtime – or any time you are feeling a little panicky and overwhelmed.

  1. Eliminate caffeine and other dietary triggers.

Seeing as caffeine is a stimulant, it is not wise to down 5 cups if you are already feeling slightly nervous. Avoid coffee, energy drinks, and large amounts of refined sugars if you are attempting to avoid panic attacks. If you need a little boost of caffeine to help you make it through the day, try green tea or yerba mate. Or mix some yerba mate with chamomile tea for a calming boost of energy!

  1. Practice relaxation techniques.

Practicing yoga, meditation or simple stretches on a daily basis will help to train your body to relax and stay more in-tune with your mind, allowing for a comprehensive and thorough respite from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.

  1. Exercise!

Tiring yourself out physically will help you to relax mentally. Be sure to get in an average of half an hour of moderate to intense exercise daily to greatly reduce anxiety levels in the long-term.

Those who struggle with sudden bouts of anxiousness have long since employed breathing exercises. Simply breathing deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth can do wonders to calm unsettled nerves.

  1. Try to Grasp CBT Techniques.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques can be extremely beneficial. One of the most valuable CBT techniques is the understanding that emotions are like waves – they are temporary, and they cannot get a firm and lasting grip on you. Emotions come and go regularly, and keeping this impermanence in mind will greatly aid in acknowledging feelings and moving on.

  1. Create a Mantra.

Coming up with your own calming and self-soothing mantra may help you to relax when you begin feeling anxious. Try saying something like “I am okay” over and over to yourself while breathing deeply in and out. If you say something enough times you will begin to believe it!

Use these techniques to help calm yourself down naturally without an unhealthy reliance on drugs or alcohol. Keep in mind that ‘this too shall pass’, and that no matter how crazy and stressful things may seem at a given moment, in as little as a week from that point, everything seemingly worrisome will be completely behind you. You are (and will continue to be) okay!



For many individuals in early recovery, determining which halfway house or sober living facility to commit to is a difficult and highly important decision. Many addicts and alcoholics who are transitioning into a halfway house from an inpatient treatment center will have the assistance of a licensed counselor or addiction specialist in formulating a comprehensive aftercare program, inclusive of which sober living facility to attend. However, it is common for some individuals, based either on financial restrictions or personal circumstance, to transition directly into a halfway house or sober living facility after undergoing medical detoxification. In these instances, it is important that the individual in question has a thorough grasp of what he or she is looking for in a facility. While many halfway houses offer the same basic services, they vary somewhat in specialization and other specifics, and a careful comparison and evaluation is oftentimes quite useful. First we will take a look at different types of halfway houses, and then we will assist you in deciding which option will best suit your personalized needs and preferences.

What Will A Halfway House Offer Me?

Essentially, all halfway houses are intended to offer an easy transition back into a productive and self-sufficient lifestyle. Halfway houses will hold you accountable for your actions, requiring regular drug testing, curfew, and completion of chores as well as weekly house meetings and daily attendance at 12-step meetings (in most cases). They will require you to get a reasonable job and to pay rent on a weekly or monthly basis. The cost of living at a halfway house is typically slightly higher than the cost of living alone for several reasons. First of all, halfway houses typically come fully furnished. You will be supplied with all amenities (aside from food and toiletries) and provided with the guidance and support of house managers (employees who spend ample time at the residence in order to assist clients on a daily basis). One of the main perks of being a member of a sober living community is the instantaneous fellowship you are all but thrown into the middle of. Not only do you have a group of men or women to discuss issues related to early recovery with, but you also get the blessing of learning to live with obnoxious people that you can’t stand – and learning patience and tolerance is crucial to evolving spiritually and emotionally.

Different Types of Sober Living Facility

There is no doubt that attendance at a halfway house or sober living facility is pertinent to successful and prolonged recovery – but which halfway is right for you? It is always a good idea to attend an all female or all male halfway, seeing as any co-ed sober living facilities will provide unnecessary distraction. Some halfway houses deal directly with co-occurring disorders, or with addicts and alcoholics who are also on parole or simultaneously dealing with legal issues. Be sure to take a look at the area in which the house is located, ensuring there are no geographical triggers (such as the property being next door to a bar or crack house, for example). If you are considering transitioning from an inpatient treatment center or moving directly to a sober living facility and are interested in a comprehensive list of potential options, contact one of our trained addiction specialists today.



February 23, 2015 Marissa ObrienAftercare0

Staying focused in early recovery is oftentimes fairly difficult. You are experiencing life through clear eyes for the first time in what may be years – learning what it is you enjoy doing, engaging in activities you may have previously thought you would never have the opportunity to explore. Early recovery is an exciting time full of self-discovery and investigation, a wonderful period during which you realize the possibilities for your future are now truly endless. However, it is of utmost importance that you stay focused on your physical and mental recovery from severe and prolonged addiction as you continue to grow emotionally and spiritually. Losing sight of past devastation or future goals can prove to be detrimental – thus while you strive to stay in the present, do not forget the past nor lose sight of the future.

8 Tips to Stay Focused and Reach Your Goals

  1. Don’t jump into a relationship too soon.

Take time to focus on yourself. Jumping into a relationship right out of treatment will inevitably hurt you in the long run, and serve a major distraction in the meantime.

  1. Avoid taking on too much responsibility.

Cut yourself some slack! Staying sober for the length of a day is a massive accomplishment in itself. Avoid taking on too many extraneous tasks so you can really focus on yourself and getting well.

  1. Do not spend ample time with old friends.

Old friends tend to be using friends, and spending time with those you used with is counterproductive to your recovery. This is why attending meetings and reaching out is so important – surrounding yourself with others who are in the same position as you and can relate, individuals who are strong in their sobriety, will benefit you immensely.

  1. Continue with aftercare – don’t quit!

Recovery is a lifelong process, one that requires continuous treatment. You are not “cured” simply because you graduated an extended stay inpatient program. Be sure you sit down with a counselor and discuss a comprehensive and realistic aftercare plan.

  1. Avoid questionable environments.

Discovering new activities that you enjoy is exciting, and you may be tempted to put yourself in some high-risk situations based on a potentially misguided sense of confidence regarding ‘trying new things’. Stay out of nightclubs and bars while you are early in sobriety – tempting fate is never a wise idea.

  1. Meet with a therapist regularly.

Addiction is typically only half of the problem – you will also likely have a plethora of underlying issues to address, ranging from childhood trauma to bipolar disorder. Meeting with a therapist on a weekly basis will allow you to delve into such issues while simultaneously treating your addiction, ensuring well-rounded recovery.

  1. Remain active in a recovery community.

Try to nail down a homegroup early on, ensuring a group of familiar faces that will hold you accountable to some extent. Getting phone numbers is crucial, and picking up the phone and calling people is even more pertinent.

  1. Attend meetings on a regular basis.

Aside from your homegroup, branch out and try to attend a wide variety of 12-step meetings. This is not only a great way to meet new people (potential sober supports), but to figure out which meetings you would like to make a permanent part of your weekly schedule.

If you stay focused and involved in your personal program of recovery, you will undeniably reach your goals eventually. Keep in mind that patience truly is a virtue, and an ample amount of effort coupled with unwavering dedication will help you to set a solid and lasting foundation for meaningful and fulfilled sobriety for years to come.



February 3, 2015 Marissa ObrienAftercare0

As you may have heard, relapse begins far before one actually picks up a drug or a drink. Relapse is preceded by a shift in attitude and action; sometimes so slight that no one seems to notice aside from the individual who happens to be struggling. While prelapse may be extended and may seem to require ending poorly, it never has to – with the proper preventative measures and restorative action, even those who may believe relapse to be inevitable are capable of staying clean for just one more day.

Avoid Relapse – Get a Homegroup

One of the first steps you can take to ensure continued sobriety is carefully planning out your meetings for the week and sticking to your set plan. It is highly recommended that those in their first 90 days of sobriety commit to attending 90 meetings – essentially, one meeting per day. There are a wide variety of 12-step fellowships to choose from, with the most popular remaining Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. As soon as you graduate from an inpatient drug treatment program, it is important to establish yourself in a fellowship if you have not done so already. Find a “homegroup” – a weekly meeting that you will become a member of, attending business meetings and (hopefully) picking up service commitments within the group such as chairing or greeting. Not only will this help you to be accountable every week with a commitment, but it will also provide you with an instantaneous support system of sober men and women you can call if you ever feel as if you are struggling.

Find a Sponsor as Soon as Possible

It is equally as important to find a sponsor within the first couple of weeks after you have transitioned from an inpatient treatment center to a sober living facility or halfway house. A sponsor is someone who will guide you through the 12-steps of your chosen fellowship – typically someone with ample “clean time” and who possesses qualities that you admire and are striving towards. A sponsor will also give you advice on subjects and issues that are new to you, seeing as he or she has inevitably been through a similar experience, or knows someone who has. Take these essential steps and you will further protect your sobriety, ensuring more meaningful and fulfilled recovery overall.



January 7, 2015 Marissa ObrienAftercare0

After completing any extended-stay inpatient treatment program, a comprehensive aftercare program will be necessary to continued success in recovery and maintenance of prolonged and meaningful sobriety. Committing to several months at a halfway house may seem like the last thing you want to do after completing residential treatment, though if you are serious about your recovery it is, without question, the best option. You may have several ideas in mind regarding what exactly attending a halfway house might entail based on media portrayals or your experiences in sobriety so far. The reality is that you most likely have no idea what to expect, and every horror story you are imagining in your head is probably pretty far from the truth. Here is a list of several probable situations and circumstances that will help you to better prepare for the journey ahead. And don’t worry! No matter what, as long as you stick it through and put in the work it will be a good one.

What To Expect From Sober Living

  1. Expect a “zero tolerance” policy

A “zero tolerance” policy entails absolutely no use of mood or mind-altering substances of any kind. Stay away from everything and you’ll be fine. If you have to ask, just don’t do it.

  1. Expect inconvenient house meetings

You will be asked to prioritize weekly “house meetings” above literally everything else. Make sure your schedule is cleared on Sundays at 5 (or whatever) so you won’t have any issues. Meetings are mandatory. Make them.

  1. Expect missing (stolen) food

Your housemates will not feel badly about eating the last slice of bread, nor will they replace your peanut butter. Accept this and move on. Handle situations with grace and remember – it is just food. If things get too out of hand, buy a lock for $5 at Walmart.

  1. Expect chores, chores, and then some more chores

Be prepared to get down and dirty. The best way to go about completing your assigned chores is very simply to grin, bear it, and don’t miss any spots!

  1. Expect attitude from the higher ups

If your house managers are easy to get along with, you really lucked out. Don’t expect to be buddy-buddy with the men or women in charge – expect a little attitude and a lot of compliancy on your end. Again… grin and bear it. Keep in mind that being yelled at by a 21-year-old about leaving a mug on the dresser is only temporary.

  1. Expect regular drug testing

You will be drug tested on a very regular basis. So don’t do drugs, and stay hydrated.

  1. Expect to go to a meeting every day

You will most likely be asked to attend a 12-step meeting every day, and to have a sheet signed by the chairperson. Avoid having your friends forge signatures, despite how convenient that may seem. You will ultimately only be cheating yourself.

  1. Expect a crappy job

You won’t land a brilliant job on Wall Street while living in a halfway house. In fact, your days may be filled with serving chimichangas to obese Americans or spinning signs advertising super deals on used mattresses. But hey, you have to start somewhere. Again, this job is only temporary, and as you save up money for future endeavors you will learn more about where your passions truly lie and what you want to do with your future.

Overall, expect that if you dedicate yourself to further self-discovery and stay uninvolved in the drama, you will reap amazing benefits from your stay at sober living.



December 24, 2014 Marissa ObrienAftercare0

Without the slow and assisted transition from an inpatient treatment center into a halfway house, it is significantly more difficult for a newly sober individual to maintain sobriety. The rate of relapse amongst addicts and alcoholics who graduate from a residential program and return back to their initial environments (without extended stay at a sober living facility) is far higher than it is amongst those who complete a comprehensive aftercare program after completing treatment. Without a solid support system, which is essentially included when one moves into a sober living house, feelings of loneliness and isolation are likely to consume the addict and lead to eventual relapse. In many cases, sober living houses will provide transportation to and from outside meetings, which works to instill a daily routine conducive to recovery that many clients will continue with long after they transition out of halfway. In fact, many positive habits are instilled, such as cleanliness, living with and getting along with others, and maintaining a daily routine complete with responsibilities and commitments. Structure is a crucial component of sobriety.

Why Sober Living?

Sober living homes are intended to occupy the space between being released from inpatient treatment and returning home – a vital link back into the community as a fully functioning member of society. Standard sober living residences will require each client get a job within a given amount of time, attend 12-step meetings on a daily or near-daily basis, and acquire a sponsor sometime within the first two-weeks. This kind of accountability is essential in early sobriety, especially when the newfound freedom is a bit of a shock to the system after several months of inpatient. Aside from the obvious accountability and reduction of the risk of relapse, why would one choose to commit to an extended stay at a sober living facility?

  • Overwhelming obligations at home.

Returning home after residential addiction treatment means returning to the hectic lifestyle you lived before – bills, work, maybe children to attend to. The stressors of everyday living are often too much for one in early sobriety. There is nothing wrong with prolonging your return home until you are you sure you are mentally prepared.

  • Instant friends/sober supports.

The men or women you live with will inevitably become sources of strength for you on your journey into sobriety. Of course, you are not liable to become best friends with everyone you encounter – but sharing your space with people you don’t particularly favor will inevitably make you more tolerant.

  • Extra “you” time.

It is important to remember that your well-being and your recovery are more important than anything else – your family, your career, your finances. Everything you put before your recovery you will lose.

  • Continuation of therapy/support groups.

In many instances, a personal therapist will be paired with each individual client in an inpatient setting, and it is highly advised that therapy is continued after the client graduates from the residential treatment program. Committing to an extended stay in a sober living house allows each individual to continue with a comprehensive and effective aftercare program.



There were numerous occasions in early sobriety during which my friends and I would find ourselves sitting in a parked car, bored out of our minds and cursing the day we ever got sober. There’s no question – early sobriety can be painfully boring. After all, we are becoming accustomed to a social life lacking drugs and alcohol for the first time. This is often a hard adjustment to make, especially for young adults aged 18-27. If we can’t party… what the heck are we supposed to do? Fortunately, I’ve compiled a list of 10 tried and true sober activities for you and your friends to participate in on nights you feel like maybe jumping off of a cliff is a good option.

Being Sober Is So Much Fun!

  1. Cards Against Humanity

This is an essential for early sobriety – this card game will inevitably save you and your friends on countless nights of potential death-by-boredom. Order it on Amazon.com to save a few bucks.

  1. Truth or Dare

What are you, 12? I know, it sounds pretty juvenile. But when you’re sitting around with nothing else to do, reverting back to middle school can actually be quite entertaining.

  1. Movie Marathon

Hit up a Redbox, grab snacks, and throw on some sweatpants. There’s nothing wrong with lounging out for a day, especially in the company of good friends. Try to get a trilogy if possible, or a television series – simply to occupy more time. Don’t forget, it’s okay to relax! You deserve a break. Staying sober is no easy task.

  1. Go Bowling

Bowling is for losers, right? Actually… no. Bowling can be pretty fun. Especially when you’ve literally got nothing better to do. Bowling is also relatively inexpensive. Place bets – loser has to buy a round of chicken wings.

  1. Go Miniature Golfing

Along the same lines as bowling, this activity may seem to be one reserved exclusively for awkward first dates and adolescent birthday parties. However, anything done with the company of friends you enjoy can be way more entertaining than you ever imagined. Again, play for bets. Winner buys a pizza after the game. Loser has to strip down to his skivvies and run down the street screaming, “The British are coming”.

  1. Beach Volleyball

I promise you, I am the least athletic human being known to man. I have never had as much fun as I did randomly playing beach volleyball on one “what is there to do” afternoon. A perk to this activity (besides the exercise) is the fact that you will be at the beach… when you get worn out take a dip, frolic in the waves, or catch a seagull merely for sport.

  1. Make Up Characters and Walk Around the Mall

Try to convince as many strangers as possible that you are a Goth named Zeltar and you are looking for a store that sells darkness. Don’t do this alone – be sure that you have at least one friend brave enough to play dress-up and act like an idiot with you. If you aren’t a fan of the mall, dress up in your finest gown or tux and head to Denny’s for an upscale date. Being weird is fun. However, it isn’t for the faint of heart.

  1. Take an Art Class

Painting pieces of ceramic isn’t typically that expensive. But if you’re on a super tight budget and can’t afford to custom-color a mug or a paperweight, try hitting up Michael’s and grabbing some art supplies. Art is therapeutic, and you can make stupid little things to give to your family members who will probably blindly cherish them.

  1. Take a “Tour”

Every town has “tours”, you just have to put in a little research. Some have historic tours (yawn) while others have ghost tours, culinary tours… whatever! Take a tour!

10. Go Yard Sale-ing

Now that you can wake up at 9 am on a Saturday without instantaneously vomiting beer into your boots, you can participate in fun early-morning activities such as sunrise walks on the beach, and (my personal favorite) yard sale-ing! Drive around and look for signs or premeditate with the help of Craigslist. After all, you’ll soon need to furnish your new apartment… you little sober success story!

Sobriety is fun – you just need to be creative.



You’ve just graduated from a 90-day drug rehab – been “coined out” by a group of peers who wish you well and remind you they’re there if you ever need help. Your plane leaves tomorrow – you can’t wait to return home and see your friends and family. You’ve missed them, and you want to show them how far you’ve come in just several months. Therapists and counselors have warned you about the temptations that will likely await you at home, but you aren’t worried… after all, you’re cured! You will no longer want to drink and use drugs, for you’ve uncovered underlying causes of your addiction and addressed them with the assistance of a professional. Right?

Drug Rehab Is Just The Beginning!

Very, very wrong. It is very likely that one has not engaged in any sort of aftercare after inpatient will relapse within a short period of time. The vast majority of inpatient drug rehabs will strongly recommend a comprehensive and extended aftercare program effective immediately after one graduates from residential treatment. In most cases, such programs will include attendance at an IOP (intensive outpatient program) for a period of time, as well as continued daily attendance at a 12-step meeting such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Usually continuation of one-on-one therapy sessions is recommended as well in order to address underlying emotional issues as well as the addiction itself.

It is a common misconception that completing a stay at an inpatient rehab facility is about the extent of treatment – that once your inpatient stay comes to a close you are essentially cured of your addiction, free to return to your old life and pick right back up where you left off; without the use of drugs and alcohol, of course. In fact, graduating from a residential drug rehab program is only the beginning of your journey into recovery. It will be strongly recommended that immediately upon graduation that the newly sober addict or alcoholic maintain sobriety by entering a halfway or sober living house. This will allow him or her much more freedom while still managing accountability by means of frequent drug tests and a set of strict rules (curfew, cleanliness, etc). A careful transition from inpatient to halfway and finally back into total independence has been proven most successful in prolonged abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Recovery Begins “In the Rooms”

It is often said that real recovery begins “in the rooms”. This refers to the fact that it tends to be difficult for addicts or alcoholics to maintain meaningful sobriety without getting involved in a 12-step program of their choosing. Regular attendance at meetings is usually essential to sustaining sobriety based on several differing factors – one of the most important is being surrounding with sober supports, friends who can relate to the struggle and are available to help if need be. 12-step meetings tend to be a crucial aspect of every aftercare plan, as does continued one-on-one therapy in order to continue resolving emotional problems and underlying causes of addiction. Don’t be fooled by the common misconception that rehab is the end of the road! Recovery is a lifelong process, and sobriety requires continued maintenance. But there is no question that all of the hard work you put in will be more than worth it in the end.


The Hope Center

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation offers a full range of services both leading up to, during and following treatment, including professional interventions, a luxury, medically assisted detox program, inpatient rehabilitation (30-90 days), intensive out-patient rehabilitation and out-patient services. Each of our clients become a part of our alumni program at the completion of their treatment to help foster a continued community of recovery.

Copyright by The Hope Center 2016. All rights reserved.