The very purpose of sober living and of every other step of the recovery process is simple: to keep people sober. Providing sturdy support and guidance to keep all members on track to lasting recovery, sober living homes hope to produce the ideal living arrangements for individuals who want to exercise some freedom without completely losing structure.
But what happens if members fail to uphold the ‘sober’ part? Because they allow more flexibility than residential rehab programs, sober living homes run the risk of having its members return to their old ways. So, what exactly happens when individuals on their way to sobriety relapse while still a part of the home?
The Risks and Reality of Relapse
The very reason why sober living homes were developed in the first place is because relapse is a very real threat to sobriety. Individuals who complete a residential treatment program can relapse in as little as 90 days after discharge — and most of them do. How many relapses before sobriety? There’s really no answer to that. Some people can relapse every few months, while others relapse after decades of being clean. What’s more, it doesn’t really matter if a person is still in rehab, is checked into a sober living home, or is taking part in an outpatient program — relapse can happen at any time during the recovery process.
What Causes Relapse?
No two people are the same, and what might trigger one person to relapse might not be a threat for others. Nonetheless, there are a few common relapse triggers that are more common, some of which may exist in a sober living home:
- Stress – Anything that causes a person to feel stressed and anxious can be the cause of stress. In a sober living home, stress can come from unpleasant relationships between members, work, or even the delegation of household chores.
- Addiction Reminders – Sober living homes let members leave the home throughout the day to work or engage in recreation. Unfortunately, reminders of addictive behaviour can be everywhere — from commercials, to magazines, to products in stores and more.
- Negative Emotions – No one is ever fully protected from negative emotions. A bad day at work or a breakup can easily stir up negative thoughts and make a person look for comfort or an easy way out.
- People Connected to Addicted Behaviour – There’s really no way to completely wipe people out of your life. Sometimes, individuals in sober living homes may encounter individuals who became a part of their addicted past. These individuals may be a negative influence, persuading and even pressuring individuals to turn back to their old ways.
What Happens if You Relapse in a Sober Living Home?
Rules are different between homes, so outcomes could change depending on the specific guidelines agreed upon by your home. In most cases however, sober living homes impose a 100% zero tolerance rule that means anyone caught using drugs or alcohol during their stay will be immediately kicked out — no questions asked. Of course, on the receiving end, that might seem quite harsh. But most sober living homes impose this rule to protect the best interest of the majority of the household. A single person using illicit substances or alcohol could endanger the progress of everyone else in the home, thus the need for strict and stringent measures.
What happens next may also vary. For instance, a sober living home that’s a part of a more holistic facility that offers detox and residential rehab treatment might refer you back to their inpatient program. This continuum of care allows facilities to continue providing service even in the face of relapse. That’s not to say however that all sober living homes operate with this premise. Some homes assess the relapse on a case-to-case basis. Individuals are assessed and evaluated after the incident to find out what caused them to fall back to their old habits. If the relapse was a result of a reasonable stress or problem, then the members of the home can choose to accommodate the individual while providing more guidance, mentorship, therapy, and counselling. This is especially true if the individual demonstrates a genuine longing to kick the habit. However, those who fall into habitual or chronic relapse and manifest signs of addicted behaviour will likely be removed from the house and referred to a treatment centre. Most go back to residential rehab treatment, while others may have to undergo detox depending on the extent of their use.
How Do They Know If You Relapse?
Sober living homes have a number of regulations in place to keep their members’ activities in check. For starters, these homes impose routine drug and alcohol screening to make sure all members abide by their rules. Individuals are also strongly encouraged to join 12-step programs to support their ongoing recovery. Group meetings are also quite common. That said, members of a sober living home are almost always tight-knit, so individuals may be able to pick up subtle differences in their housemate’s behaviour that could point to relapse.
Can You Return to a Sober Living Home After Relapse?
Yes, you can, as long as you complete any necessary steps to be granted a spot in the house. Oftentimes, that means completing an inpatient treatment program a second time around. Some sober living homes might also require that you participate in other group counselling and therapies to support your recovery should you decide to return after your inpatient treatment.
No Such Thing as Hopeless
There’s no such thing as a lost cause. Relapse is almost a normal and even expected part of the recovery process, and everyone is at risk. And while the repercussions might hurt and cause significant stress, it’s important to remember that these measures are in place to protect both you and those around you. The best homes for sober living Dallas TX have to offer provide compassionate services that extend understanding for those who might slip and fall. These homes can be a safe, accepting place to stay to support recovery, and provide conducive conditions to protect the interest of everyone who’s a member of the home — even after they make mistakes.