Question about Sober Houses

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by susiestar, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am asking this so that I can be more supportive to those who have loved ones in sober houses. My experiences with rehab come from my brother who went through this while I lived 13 hours away and couldn't help the day to day if I wanted to. I don't have a parent's experience but I have a siblings from a sister who knew about the problem decades before anyone else even admitted that there might maybe possibly be inappropriate behavior, much less a real problem.

    Once an addict is out of rehab, which is full time for 30-90 days depending on program, what does one do while in a sober house? I think there are some here, but not many as we are not a large town. It would seem logical, to me, for an addict in recovery to get a job to work to help pay for the sober living facility. I know many parents are willing to pay for this as a way to help, and I think that is awesome and would want to do that for my child if he/she needed it and was ready to try it. I know those in sober houses go to meetings, but many do not seem to have jobs or go to school.

    WOuld it be logical for them to find part time employement to help fill their time gainfully rather than to sit all day and think about sobriety and/or using? Is there a program at the sober house that they go through to deal with problems (thinking of therapist type therapy programs?) or are they free except for chores and going to meetings?

    I am NOT asking because I think someone's difficult child shoudl get a job or not. I am asking because I honestly do not know, and I want to support parents here and don't want to suggest something and be totally off track and out of line. I don't actually know anyone in real life who has gone to sober living and spoken to me about it. Those i have heard at meetings (AA, alanon) have spoken of working to find something to fill their time after rehab so that they don't spend it thinking of using all the time. Personally, I know when I have lots to do I get way more done than when I am lightly scheduled because it is easier to do things when you are up and running and busy. NOt sure I said that clearly. I mean that when I was in college, the semesters that I had the best grades were the ones when I was jam-packed busy with classes, a job, volunteer work, etc.... The semesters that I didn't work in addition to going to school (and I was blessed to have parents who let me have that luxury and I knew even then that it was a HUGE luxury), my grades were not nearly as good. I had a lot more free time so I procrastinated and wasted a LOT of time then didn't pay the attention I should have to my studies. It was totally counter-intuitive, but the busier i was the higher my grades were and the more amazing things I was able to do. As a mom, when we have a light schedule I just don't get much done but when we are on the go all week I seem to get more done around the house. Not sure if that means I am lazy when home, but if I am busier I approach chores more effectively, or so it seems.

    If this question is out of line, please delete it - I won't be upset. I simply don't know how sober houses work. Thank you. PLEASE understand it is a very sincere question. I have a child in college and a teen and a tween, and if this is in their future it will be somewhat easier if I know how it works and have more reasonable expectations.
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Not out of line at all and very relevant, thanks for asking.

    I'll tell you how most of the sober houses are run around here, but a lot of it depends on who is running it.

    Upon release from treatment center the person goes to a halfway or three quarters house. The sober house difficult child went to was both. The first three months you were considered half way. She was NOT allowed to have a car or job. Her days were completely filled with AA meetings, both in-house and out, group sessions, house meetings, house chores, volunteer activities in the community, etc. There was very little down time if any. She was allowed to have home visits on Sunday 1-5 after the first month. Only a family member was allowed to pick her up or bring her back. She had to find rides to AA meetings outside the house from other women who have been sober at least a year. She was required to attend an AA meeting every day. Each resident was responsible for keeping their portion of the bedroom clean and had other household responsibilities to ensure the house ran smoothly.

    Each resident was charged $400 a month (this varies of course per sober house) which included food. They received food donations from the foodbank and central market and various charitable organizations They never went hungry and people were very generous to them. If you couldn't afford the $400 hopefully you would be sposored by a family member. Of course we paid the rent.

    Once your three months was up, assuming you had no setbacks, you advanced to the three-quarters part of the house where you had a bit more freedom. You were only required to attend four meetings a week and the big thing was you were allowed to look for a job. Job seeking could occur two days a week from 9-12 only. You could use that time writing resumes or going on interviews or making calls. The rest of the day you followed the schedule of the halfway house. You were also allowed to have a car at this point but quite honestly most of the women had had their licenses revoked so very few had a car. Those that did were now allowed to drive other sober house residents to meetings. Once you got a job your sponsor was no longer allowed to pay your rent and you were responsible for it. You also had additional house responsibilities like going to market for food or picking up donations.

    When you first came in you were assigned a little buddy and a big buddy. The little buddy was another halfway resident to help show you the ropes. The big buddy was a three-quarters resident and was considered your mentor to help with your sobriety. They asked for a six month commitment when you entered but of course there was no way to enforce that. Rather it was more to let you know that you had to make a serious commitment to change and it wouldn't happen overnight. If you walked out you were given one more chance to come back and start over. If you were kicked out for a serious violation of the rules you were gone.

    Granted this house was one of the best run houses in our area. It has a tremendous success rate among those that stay. The residents in several of the men's sober houses in the area help with the upkeep of the house when something needs repair. Some of the women have been there a year or longer.

    The second sober house she left this one because she got mad that she was caught in a lie, was much less restrictive. You actually were required to have a job to be admitted and the rules were more relaxed. It was run by an elderly women who was in recovery for years and is really considered a three quarters house, so it is not a good place to go right from treatment. It is more for people who are further along in their recovery. In this house you were responsible for your own food and came and went as you pleased as long is it was in curfew.

    Most of the houses are very restrictive in te beginning. The men's houses are run the same way, you don't get a job until after the three months. There is very little time alone. If you are not in meeting syou are helping others. Even after you leave, most residents come back to help or just hang out nightly. Some of the houses ever help you find housing wirth other sober people once you leave the sober house where you pay the rent and all your utilities butlive with other sober people in the community.

    I hope this helps. If I haven't answered something let me know. I never knew these places existed before. If anyone is looking for a place to donate food, clothing, money, used furniture, these places wil gladly accept it.

  3. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I think it is a good question Susie. I think there is a huge variation in sober houses. My son has been in 3 different ones and they were all different.

    So the one near where we live was cheap (in comparison) provided dinner and breakfast. This is one he found after calling a lot of places. I don't think there are a lot of sober houses in our area. It had about 30 guys living there... the place was really kind of depressing with a lot of men hanging about.I don't really think there were many requirements except to stay sober.... not sure if they did drug testing. They did have on site AA meetings, not sure how many they were required to go to. I was not aware of any other thereapeutic services. There were a number of guys there that were there on release from the local house of correction. My son did not do well there, he got very depressed and ended up in the hospital. When he went back someone offered him acid and he took it which sent him over the edge again.... and if he was telling me the truth his medications were stolen while there. So that is probably not the best example of a sober house but I suspect is not unusual either.

    the 2nd one was actually one he was in a year ago when out of state, and then in again when in the same state away from home. This one is run by a couple, both former addicts. I think they both care about their residents and give a certain amount of personal attention... the woman is motherly, maybe too much so for my son. LOL. They did require a certain number of meetings and did have a relapse prevention group and I think they also work with some therapists who work with residents there. My son was kicked out of that one... when he was kicked out they kicked him out late at night and left him on the street with no place to go... and he ended up leaving a bunch of stuff behind which he did not get back. I am not sure the kicking him out was done in a very professional manner... again I don't really know because all I can base it on is what my son says and I can't trust a word he says. My feeling about this place is that the owners are very well intentioned but also very inexperienced and it showed in the way they handled some things.
    This place was much more expensive that the first one.

    The latest place was the same price as the one I just mentioned. It is obviously much more professional, much more experienced in dealing with things. They have two programs. Their house for people right out of detox which is very very structured.... and with that you get an intenstive outpatient program which my son found helpful. You can't have a job or leave the property on your own. They provide transportation to various things. I believe they provide breakfast. They drug test often. After you are in that program you move to the regular sober house which has a lot more freedom. However you can continue with the IOP. There you are expected to get a job and they do do things to help you get a job. My son was also kicked out of there.... but when they did this they gave him 24 hours to figure out what to do... so they didn't drop him off on a street corner at 10pm at night like the place before. According to my son they will take him back after he has been away for a week.... I have not yet confirmed that and am waiting to see what happens. To me this place is by far the best and I am really hoping that my son can go back there. I just got a nice professional letter from them about my no longer paying the rent but how they will be there for my loved one in the future if need be.

    As far as paying for rent... I know my son cannot possibly start off paying rent at a place. He has to get a job first...but living in a sober house with the supports can be a real help to him so we are willing to pay for it for a time... we would expect him to take over expenses as he goes along though. Right now I am just hoping he does what he needs to do to get back in.

  4. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Susie, I think that they are all very different here. As for my difficult child, I absolutely think that she should be working. However, that is easier said than done in this economy. She has applied a lot of places and had some interviews but so far no luck. Another issue for some in a sober house would be transportation.

    Where we live, there is little in the way of public transportation so you would really need a car to be able to find and hold down a job. I know that most of the people where my difficult child lives do not own cars. Another problem is a lack of and/or poor work history due to incarceration or drug abuse. People like that are not the first person hired when there are a lot of people vying for jobs.

    You can't pay rent or buy a car without a job. It is a catch-22.

  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Yes my son will have a hard time getting a job because of lack of experience and a felony on his record...
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Thanks for the answers. I didn't really have specific questions because the only exposure to sober houses that I have comes from here and an episode or 2 of some show with dr drew at least a year ago. I just know that many of you have difficult children in them, and for some people they seem very useful. I didn't want to say something and come across as unsympathetic as I verbally displayed my ignorance. I am just glad you are so understanding of my fairly proufound ignorance on this subject.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Susiestar I didn't even know there was such a thing as a sober house until last year so you are not ignorant at all. I have to admit when difficult child's outpatient program suggested she go to a halfway house (sober house) I was agast. I thought those were for people getting out of jail to help them with re-entry into society. I was very reluctant, not knowing what to expect. I was so surprised to find out that most of the women were around difficult child's age and they looked like normal people. I don't know what I expected but it wasn't that.

    I must confess that when difficult child first got out of treatment and they told her she needed to make AA her life I was very skeptical. I thought there was no way she would be able to go to AA meetings almost every day and make those people her support group. I thought of myself and how when I worked I just liked to come home and relax not go to some meeting every night. I was fairly certain this new way of living would never work for her and she would never be able to make friends with sober people and find fun sober things to do.

    Thank goodness she didn't have those same misgivings or if she did she was willing to open herself to it. Every day I see her emerse herself more and more into the sober way of living. When I go to the AA meetings with her on Sunday I see her interact with the other members and how happy she seems and how genuine they all seem to be with each other. And then I listen to the lead and I discovered it is possible to make AA a big part of your life and it becomes a way of life for so many.

    That's not to say I don't still worry every day that she will relapse but I have a huge appreciation for the addiction services in our community and sober houses are a big part of that. I don't feel nearly so hopeless because I know there is help out there.