Living in a Sober House – Addiction and Recovery

If you found this article because you wish to learn more about Halfway Houses and Sober Living, then read on. My name is Matt Morris, and I have spent years living in and managing a sober living house in Texas. This series of articles will help inform addicts, alcoholics, and their loved ones of some of the pitfalls and benefits of living in structured, sober living.

You may be asking; how did I end up at a sober living house in October 2013? I am a heroin addict that has just gotten out of a 74-day rehab stay, and I knew that going back to my home city was a bad idea.

Keep in mind that not everybody has the same options, so if you are seeking help for yourself or a family member, you may not have the same experience. This is not intended to be medical advice, just advice based on what I have seen over the years.

In-patient rehab, although not a prerequisite for sober living, is usually where people go before sober living. I do know many addicts that moved in off the street, and in some cases sober living houses are more accessible than an expensive rehab.

My counselors and I felt that I needed to be in a structured environment after the highly regulated rehab center, and this is true for most addicts. She referred me to one she knew was good, as opposed to me picking a random one off the website which had about 15 choices.

I say this because it is the best advice I can give here, if you do decide to seek a sober living house for yourself or another, don’t just pick one at random. Be careful when looking for advice because some people are out there to get referrals, but before you make such a big decision make sure you do your research.

The sober house I ended up at was strict, but at the same time allowed freedom to live my day to day life as long as I followed the program. There is no end to the different variations of sober living houses out there.

One reason I say to be careful is because some of them are much worse, and even are filled with drug use and scams. This is the real reason I wish to bring awareness, because I have seen many recoveries derailed when they ended up at the wrong sober house.

In my experience if a drug addict wants to get sober they will try to do the right thing, but sometimes you end up somewhere bad but you can’t do anything about it.

The typical rules involve a curfew, job requirements, house chores, drug testing, and mandatory participation in a recovery program. 12 step meetings and programs are common themes, especially in the one I lived at, but there are also many other recovery programs.

If I am being truthful, I feel that as a manager for a sober house it was sometimes difficult to really treat the guys that came through. Many guys had amazing success stories after living in our houses, which I am no longer affiliated with.

On the other hand, I saw a great number struggle to follow the strict rules, or struggle to continue their recovery outside of rehab. I will say that I saw people do much better in sober living as opposed to going straight home after rehab, but not everybody has this option.

For me ending up at a good sober living house did change my life for the better, but there were plenty of issues as well. This is not meant to be a scare tactic, just telling the truth unlike most.

When I first moved in it was DIRTY, which I didn’t mind much but I know many others weren’t happy. At one point we had mentally unstable people living there, someone sold drugs under our noses, we had many relapses and cops were called to the sober house.

The truth is, when you deal with addiction, these things are going to be encountered no matter what.

Another issue is drug testing, and many sober houses are pulling some sort of drug testing scheme. I am not sure exactly how much my owner made, but we were drug tested weekly and encouraged to use our health insurance to pay for it.

I did for a while, until my mom received a statement that they were charging upwards of $1,000 per drug test, and my insurance was no longer covering it. I never made a big fuss about it, but trust me there were some that did.

This is just one example of how things aren’t what they seem. The recovery and treatment industry saves lives, and the people that do the work deserve to make a living. However, when lives are at stake, I feel that this type of shady business dealing is unacceptable!

The truth is this sober house I am describing is still going to give some addicts the best shot they have at long term recovery, because it is strict and structured and produces results. It has been remodeled since then, but the drug testing scandal is still present in this house and all over the country.

This is the main reason I have written this out, because I want my readers to be aware of the potential challenges they may face, so that they are prepared to overcome them.