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Aftercare Options – Choosing Sober Living

When addict/alcoholic is approaching their discharge from some form of inpatient addiction treatment and the topic of aftercare arises why would someone pick going to sober living? With aftercare comes outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization programs, and sober living. Nonetheless, sober living is a favorable option over returning to the place where one frequently drank or abused drugs. In 12-step meetings you’re likely to hear the phrase, “stay away from people, places, and things.” Often, addicts and alcoholics wish to return to their hometown or with whomever they were previously residing with. This is dangerous territory due to the likelihood of said residence or place containing the same negative environment as when the resident departed off to treatment in the first place. This is where the benefits of sober living prove advantageous.

A resident enters a sober living home and is greeted by a fellowship of men and women seeking to achieve a common goal. Needless to say, the common purpose is to remain sober, become a productive member of society, and learn how to live efficiently and independently without the need for drugs or alcohol. It is common for residents to share rooms until an opportunity presents itself for more independence in a single bedroom. Depending on the type of sober living, the residents in the home are expected to maintain cleanliness, perform chores, plan meals, shop for groceries according to a budget, cook as a family, and determine which 12-step meetings they will be attending. Furthermore, as time progresses in the resident’s stay, they will soon be expected to attain employment and become even further independent.

The house of men or women are expected to live as a whole. To achieve a productive community within the house, there may be an implemented hierarchy in which residents within a position may make decisions. Another type of system may be democratic in nature, wherein the house members vote on important matters, such as new residents entering the home or potentially discharging one from the house. Lastly, a sober living home may be staffed. Staff may include a single house manager or, in addition, recovery specialists and operating managers. This structure, or lack of structure in sober living will be directly proportionate to the cost of the program. Typical nation wide costs for a non-staffed sober living that provides nothing but a bed and some random drug tests is around $700 a month, however, in Manhattan that could skyrocket up to $6-10000 a month. As programs include staffing, food plans and other services the cost can range significantly. It is important for a consumer (family member or addict) to understand exactly what they are going to pay for. Many times families do not want to pay for a quality program, later making up the costs in deductibles and co-pays when someone returns to treatment.

Whatever the type of sober living, research illustrates that sober living may result in greater success in sobriety. Research by Polcin, Korcha, Bond, and Galloway (2010), show that “residents reduced or stopped their substance use between baseline and 6 month follow up and then maintained those improvements at 12 and 18 months” (p. 7). Furthermore, they found that sobriety rates increased from 11% to 68% at 6 and 12 months as the result of sober living (Polcin, Korcha, Bond, & Galloway, 2010, p. 7).

Surfside may not be the right option for you and your family but we are happy to point you in the right direction. Please be informed about your decision…your life depends on it.


Polcin DL, Korcha R, Bond J, Galloway G. What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here? Journal of psychoactive drugs. 2010;42(4):425-433.