Roommates & Creating a Sober Living Environment

Roommates & Creating a Sober Living Environment

Reintroducing structure and enacting a routine to your daily life is a large part of any successful addiction treatment program. The reasoning behind most treatment centers adamantly advocating for structure — with entails efforts as little as making the bed — has to do with the overall make-up of addictive disorders. Addiction is a many-faceted disorder that, in conjunction with any co-occurring mental health issues that may spur on further substance misuse, also stems from behavioral issues developed from reliance on unhealthy, habitual coping actions. 


Self-awareness about the causes behind your addictive disorder is an important step in maintaining long-term sobriety, but breaking the cycle of unhealthy and habitual behaviors that promote substance misuse is also of equal importance. This is why rehab facilities like Choice House institute 90-day inpatient services. To break that cycle, patients in addiction recovery treatment programs need time and repetition of healthy behaviors to help them turn those actions into habits. Most individuals with an addictive disorder have spent much of their adult life creating unhealthy, addictive behavioral habits, and the same type of repetition and time needs to be applied to developing healthier behaviors and habits.


With structure and routine as important cornerstones in achieving and maintaining a sober lifestyle, your home life needs to mirror those same principles to become a safe space, especially in early recovery. When patients leave addiction treatment facilities, transitioning into an independent, sober lifestyle can be a lot to handle. Attempting to remember all the lessons and maintaining previously developed healthier habits while tackling everyday obstacles of work and personal life can be a struggle, to say the least. Even scheduling therapy or doctor appointments outside of rehab can be perceived as a daunting challenge. What you do not need is an unsafe or even hectic home environment to contribute to the disarray in your life. This new normalcy should be promoted and actively sought in any stage of addiction recovery. 


For individuals who find themselves in need of housemates or moving back in with family members, creating a safe and sober home environment is not always a guarantee. We have provided these three guidelines to help you better create a safe and sober home living environment:

  1. Create an open dialogue about your addictive disorder
  2. Set and follow house rules
  3. Reassess and be willing to seek alternative living arrangements   


Open Dialogue

When in a shared living environment, creating an open dialogue about your addictive disorder is an essential piece to the recovery puzzle. This involves actually sitting down and directly discussing your addiction recovery process with your housemates while making sure to address your needs in regards to long-term sobriety maintenance. Whether friends or family, this can often be an intimidating conversation, but being honest with those you live with is essential to maintaining a safe home environment. We also think you will be surprised at how receptive friends and family may be in helping you on your path to sobriety.   


To keep an open dialogue with your housemates, you must remember to keep one with yourself as well. Individuals with addictive disorders need to constantly gauge and re-evaluate their comfort levels around illicit substances and familiar behavior patterns to ensure long-term sobriety. One of the few constants in any addiction recovery process is change. What worked one week to help maintain sobriety might suddenly not work so well in the next week, and constant vigilance can help you avoid new or reemerging triggers. 


It is also important that this open dialogue goes both ways. If you are going to openly discuss your substance misuse and addictive disorder with your housemates, then it might be good practice to also listen to their perspectives as well. We are in no way suggesting you become your roommate’s therapist. However, your housemates will be more receptive to adjusting their lifestyles when you consider their concerns.


Set and Follow House Rules

The most obvious and necessary house rule is asking housemates to not keep any form of illicit substance in the house. In the least, we would suggest you ask them to refrain from leaving it in the common areas. Depending on your level of comfort, you may also want to ask housemates to keep prescription pills in their private rooms especially when sharing a bathroom. The temptation alone of potentially getting high from prescription pills or a bottle of alcohol left on the counter can lead to destructive thinking patterns that may trigger a relapse. The subsequent substance misuse could potentially ruin any form of trust between yourself and your housemates. 


Tied to this first rule would also be to ask your housemates to not hold any social event at the house that revolves around the consumption of alcohol or drugs. This rule is slightly more of a grey area, and you should gauge your cautiousness on the social events accordingly. A dinner party with wine served may feel completely safe for you while a small get-together with beer could trigger a potential relapse. Each scenario will feel different and you may have to make a judgment call in-the-moment. 


Aside from this first deal-breaker rule, many other house rules can promote a structured routine advocating responsible and healthy living. A rotating list of chores to clean the common areas can be helpful so nobody feels slighted and the house stays clean. Always washing dishes after use and leaving an empty sink is a definite way to avoid pointing fingers when it comes to dirty dishes. Even if your housemates do not always follow the list of chores, a list of regular chores can help you create better habits while maintaining a clean house.


Reassess and Be Willing to Seek Alternative Living Arrangements

If for any reason you feel unsafe in your sobriety at home, you need to address the problem immediately. In the worst-case scenario, you have to be willing to seek alternative living arrangements. This could be living with a more understanding family member or possibly exploring the option of moving into a sober living home. Here at Choice House, we provide an entire sober living campus where individuals in addiction recovery can safely transition into their new sober lifestyle. There are also a variety of non-profit sober living home organizations to choose from for individuals in need of a safe and affordable home environment. This is one of the reasons addiction treatment facilities will suggest sober living homes for patients when they first leave treatment. Sober living homes all but eliminate the problems of maintaining a safe and sober home environment entirely allowing residents to focus their attention on maintaining sobriety. 


If you or someone you love needs treatment for an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House has the dual-diagnosis treatment program to help. We offer men the chance to create a new, sober foundation built on love and empathy. Utilizing a variety of therapeutic modalities, our treatment programs consist of 90-day inpatient service, an intensive outpatient program, and the opportunity to transition to an independent lifestyle at our sober living campus. We are ideally situated between the bustling city of Louisville and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Taking full advantage of having the Rocky Mountains in our backyard, we employ a unique outdoor wilderness therapy that allows men to reconnect with nature, fellow addiction recovery patients, and themselves through physical activities like hiking, mountain climbing, and kayaking. We firmly believe that the bonds of friendships developed at our facilities will last a lifetime and prove vital to the recovery process long after you have left Choice House. Having the city of Louisville just a twenty-minute drive away also proves beneficial to our outpatient services as well as those residing on our sober living campus. These individuals can transition to more independent lifestyles by maintaining gainful employment and even keeping active social lives while still under the guidance and supervision of Choice House staff and programs of service. To find out more information about Choice House facilities or treatment services, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.

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