Sober living homes are relatively new, but the concept of sober housing has existed since the 19th century. Sober living homes can help to reinforce the skills learned in rehabilitation in a supportive environment. Many homes are certified by state governments and nationally recognized organizations, and these certifications can help you find the right home to meet your needs.
What Is a Sober Living Home? Why Would Someone Need This Support?
Evidence-based treatment provided by recovery programs starts with supervised detox or Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). It then moves to rehabilitation, which has a focus on therapy.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that 90 days, or three months, is the best amount of time for someone to spend working on overcoming addiction through a rehabilitation and recovery program, but not everyone has access to higher level residential treatment. For many, a combination of medication, outpatient treatment, and supportive housing works best.
In other cases, residential treatment for one to three months works well, but ongoing lower-level support helps the person continue to focus on abstinence and recovery. This is where sober living homes come in.
The Modern Sober Living Home Movement
The sober living home movement is relatively new, but it came out of halfway houses, which began in the 1830s through charities like the YMCA and YWCA. The goal was to support people struggling with alcohol or drug addiction in staying away from triggering circumstances involving their homes, friends and family, or employment. “Dry hotels” or “lodging houses” became halfway houses in the 1970s, and this eventually evolved into sober homes or sober living buildings.
The need for housing to support recovery was noted in the 1970s as metropolitan areas became increasingly expensive. Many people with substance use disorders (SUDs) also have financial difficulty, either because they lost their jobs, they spent their savings on purchasing drugs, they lost financial support from family or friends, or a combination of causes were present. Finding affordable housing that simultaneously supports abstinence and independence can help many people continue their recovery journey.
The first sober living homes were developed in the 1970s through Oxford Houses. Many sober living homes, sober student houses, and other types of recovery housing today are modelled after this organization, but there are variations in structure and rules. However, the “social model” philosophy, a community of people recovering together, can help many people as they find work or education after rehabilitation.
Sober living homes are structured differently than halfway houses, allowing more freedom but also often requiring the individual to find employment or another method to pay for their housing. Typical sober living homes require residents to attend some level of outpatient treatment, often in the form of mutual support groups. They forbid substance use on the premises, so there is some peer monitoring or an on-site supervisor. There may be requirements for drug testing or house meetings to ensure ongoing abstinence.
Some sober homes may offer stepped residence, starting with greater requirements of chores and supervision for those who have just left rehabilitation and moving to greater freedom for long-term residents. Typically, sober living homes do not have a specific time requirement for residency, so a person who needs this support could potentially live in a sober home for years. However, the average resident stays for a few months to one year.
The majority of certified sober living homes adhere to the four non-linear levels of support created by the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR), which has state-based branches including the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR). These levels are as follows:
- Level I: peer-run establishments like the Oxford Housing model
- Level II: monitored homes with an on-site supervisor and required meetings
- Level III: supervised housing with some medical supervision
- Level IV: residential treatment housing for long-term recovery
This scale is important because many people may move from one level to another for weeks or months, depending on their ongoing needs. For example, someone may graduate from rehabilitation and then enter a home that still has medical supervision. Or, they may start in a peer-run home but move to a higher level of support if they continue to struggle with abstinence.
Are Sober Living Homes Effective?
Several studies show the effectiveness of sober living homes in supporting recovery after rehabilitation or recovery during a long-term outpatient treatment program.
- A 2006 study on Clean and Sober Transitional Living (CSTL) followed 130 residents during their stay and after they departed. A six-month follow-up found that 56 percent of the residents had left sober living, and 40 percent had maintained abstinence; 24 percent reported they had remained abstinent for the last five out of six months.On average, CSTL residents reported abusing drugs or alcohol three out of six months before entering recovery housing. After their stay, this substance misuse was halved.About 90 percent of residents during the study paid for their sober housing with their own funds. About 10 percent had their rent covered by the Substance Abuse Services Coordinating Agency (SASCA).
- A 2010 study expanded on the previous 2006 study, finding that former residents often maintained abstinence not only at the six-month follow-up, but at 12-month and 18-month follow-ups too.Before residency, about 11 percent of study participants maintained some amount of abstinence. This improved to 68 percent after leaving the home. By 18 months, abstinence was a little lower at 46 percent, but this is still a high rate of success for recovery from a chronic illness like addiction.
- A meta-survey looked at various sober living homes and found that there were often good outcomes, although sample sizes were small. For example, a 2011 study on Oxford Housing found that residents with co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse were more likely to find employment and maintain sobriety compared to those who attended a recovery program and then went through standard aftercare, including living at home and attending mutual support groups.A 2012 study found that many people who went through recovery programs maintained abstinence after two years, but there were better outcomes for those who entered sober living homes after rehabilitation. Longer stays in recovery housing helped to maintain abstinence.
The Delray Beach Sober Living Home
The Delray Beach Sober Living Home is provided by the Boca Recovery Center. It offers on-site staff 24/7, the freedom to attend mutual support groups in the wider community, and access to support for increasing personal responsibility after rehabilitation. Clients can hold their own phones, for example, but there are still some requirements for attending outpatient options like group therapy.
A major benefit of living at Delray Beach is the beautiful surroundings, including access to oceanfront views and wonderful restaurants. There is also an exceptional recovery community in the area, including detox and rehabilitation clinics, medical professionals who understand the recovery process, and many mutual support groups.
Finding a Unique Sober Living Home to Meet Your Needs
Sober living homes are a valuable addition to the recovery process, especially for those who need long-term treatment or prefer outpatient treatment options. These homes support increased independence to find work or further education while also supporting ongoing abstinence through rules. Regular house meetings, attendance at mutual support groups, or weekly mutual support groups in the home may be required. Each sober living program is a little bit different, so finding one that suits your specific needs in your area is easier than ever.
There are several organizations and state governments that provide health and safety certifications for sober living homes, like NARR and FARR. Finding these certifications on the program’s website, and asking the program about these certifications, can help you find a sober living home that will best support you on your recovery journey.
How to Find a Certified Sober Living Home in Delray Beach
As you transition out of a structured detox and rehabilitation program, it may be hard to know where to look for a sober living home to support your ongoing recovery.
An NPR article noted that there has been a boom in sober living homes, especially in Florida, with too many unscrupulous actors attempting to scam money from some of the most vulnerable people in society. Just looking up a sober living home in Delray Beach online is not going to help you find certified, monitored options.
However, the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR) maintains a list of partner organizations that they verify meet the group’s standards and ethics. This means that the sober living home offers housing monitors, group meetings, and totally sober residences.
Some homes offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) where professionals come in on a regular schedule to administer treatment. With this option, people who need this type of treatment can benefit from sharing a home.
These are some of FARR’s associated recovery programs and sober homes:
- CARON of Florida
- Courage House Delray, which specializes in helping veterans and LGBTQA individuals
- Donny’s Sober Living Facilities, which focuses on people who have been court-ordered into treatment
- Miracles Do Happen, which is handicap accessible
- Roots to Recovery, which offers specialized treatment for pregnant women and jail diversion recovery programs, and is pet-friendly (so you can take your support animal)
FARR’s page for Delray Beach recovery homes includes whether the program offers MAT support, whether they provide certain levels of support (from I to IV, depending on the level of medical need for individuals in the sober home), and who their priority populations are. There are many sober homes who support veterans or LGBTQA individuals, for example. Many homes are also divided by gender, so if you do not want to live in co-gender housing, you can find a home that can support your needs.
Support Groups in Delray Beach
Sober living homes typically require residents to attend regular support group meetings to ensure they stay focused on long-term recovery from addiction. There are many options for support groups in Palm Beach County.
Here are some resources, so you can find the best option for you:
- South Palm Beach County Intergroup of AA: Alcoholics Anonymous has blossomed into an international organization with multiple branches in nearly every city and town. The SPBCI branch helps organize AA meetings in Palm Beach County’s cities, including Delray Beach. Currently, there are at least two meeting options every day of the week. Many of these options have hybrid attendance, so you can go in person or attend online.
- Midcoast Area of Narcotics Anonymous: NA, inspired by AA, supports those overcoming addiction to narcotics and other drugs besides alcohol. Support group meetings, like AA, are free and open to anyone who needs help. NA is also an international organization with dozens of meetings happening at any given time. The Midcoast Area of NA chapter maintains a list of meetings in the midcoastal area, around Palm Beach County, including in Delray Beach.
- How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Usually Last? (January 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- A Clean and Sober Place to Live: Philosophy, Structure, and Purported Therapeutic Factors in Sober Living Houses. (June 2008). Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
- What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go From Here? (December 2010). Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
- Affordable Housing Models and Recovery. (January 2021). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- Homepage. Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR).
- Recovery Housing: Assessing the Evidence. (March 2014). Psychiatry Online.
- Beach Town Tries to Reverse Runaway Growth of “Sober Homes.” (August 2017). NPR.
- Homepage. Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR).
- Recovery Residence Suggested Practices Medication Assisted Therapy. Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR).
- Certified Providers. Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR).
- Meetings. South Palm Beach County Intergroup of AA (SPBCI).
- Meetings. Midcoast Area of Narcotics Anonymous.