When Should You ‘Graduate’ From Sober Living?

November 11, 2022

5 mins

Never Alone Recovery


Although not everyone utilizes transitional housing, sober living is a great way to galvanize your newfound sobriety. But how do you know when it's time to move on? When should you "graduate" from sober living?

Sober living homes aren’t permanent solutions, but they’re not meant to be. They’re places where you have the time and opportunity to become more comfortable and confident in your recovery, where you can take your mind off the stresses of life. After all, stress is one of the biggest causes of relapse, so it makes sense to live somewhere, at least in the very early stages of recovery, to maintain your safety and security. But how do you know if you’re ready to leave your sober living home and return to your actual home? 

How Long Should Someone Live in a Sober Living Home?

There’s not one single length of time at a sober living home that is optimal for everyone. Rather, the key is to utilize a sober living home for as long as it’s needed for the individual. On the other hand, there are recommendations concerning the minimum amount of time in which you should participate in a transitional living program. 

In general, you should stay in a sober living home for a minimum of 90 days. Since the first three months of your recovery impact your future sobriety the most, this affords you ample time to adjust to your newfound independence in an environment that’s much safer and more structured than at home. However, this is more a recommendation than a rule. In fact, people often stay in sober living homes for much longer than 90 days.

According to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, sober living programs—meaning the duration for which someone stays in a sober living home—average between 166 and 254 days. That breaks down to about six to eight months, which is quite a bit more than 90 days.

Sober living programs are set up to be flexible, allowing residents to live on-site only for as long as they need. According to the NIDA, people who carry out a full term in a sober living facility tend to exhibit some curious differences from those who go straight home from rehab, often having lower arrest rates, higher employment rates, more stable housing, and just generally fewer problems. 

Ultimately, when it comes to sober living, the rule seems to be the longer you stay, the better the results. The good news is that there are many great sober living homes with tons of amenities available to you, including our luxury homes at Silicon Beach Sober Living. 

Note: The rules, stipulations, and requirements vary from program to program, so be aware that there may be certain criteria you must meet. For example, many require residents to attend a 12-step program or some other type of support group. 

What Determines Stay Length? 

As mentioned above, people can stay in sober living homes for as long as they like, from as little as 90 days to eight months or more. So what factors influence the amount of time you spend at a sober living home? Let’s take a look. 

Your Circumstances 

Every person’s situation is unique, so only you—and your recovery team—can decide how long in a sober living home is right for you. There are a ton of different factors that can be hugely influential here; for example, someone with a prior history of addiction might extend his or her sober living program. That’s why it’s important to have some very open, honest discussions with your team.

Your Co-Occurring Disorders 

Studies have shown us time and again that people who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction often suffer from co-occurring, or comorbid, mental disorders. This means many people are fighting two (or potentially even more) battles at once. For these individuals, a longer stay in a sober living home can help them to develop the coping strategies to fight on both fronts. The sober living home gives you time to iron out whatever difficulties you may still be working out before you return home and assume full responsibility for your sobriety. 

Your Ability to Follow Rules 

Sometimes a resident doesn’t get to choose how long he or she lives in the sober living home, especially when the resident has shown to have trouble following the house rules. Some facilities set certain financial and legal thresholds that applicants must meet for consideration; this includes things like income—sober living homes do require residents to pay rent, after all—and the length of time since the last criminal incident. 

If you think this sounds restrictive, then you would be right. But these rules are what allow sober living homes to be safe environments that are highly conducive to recovery.

Severity of Your Addiction 

Opioid dependence and other high-damage addictions pose greater risks to your health and well-being. Therefore, it stands to reason that more significant addictions warrant more intensive treatment and rehabilitation, including sober living. If you extend your recovery to include a longer period of sober living, you will have much lower chances of experiencing a future relapse. With reduced chance of relapse, there’s less risk of other serious health problems down the line. 

Your History of Relapse 

Obviously, if you struggled with relapse or “falling off the wagon,” then a longer and more thorough treatment is warranted. That said, you should try to remember that relapses are not failures.

Your Home Environment 

Recovery is harder, perhaps even impossible, without a support network. For most people, the best support network is the individuals already living in your own home. However, if you have nowhere to go or if your family poses a threat to your sobriety, then a longer stay helps you build more coping skills. 

Ultimately, the more difficult your sobriety journey, the longer your stay at a sober living home should be. 

Signs That You’re Ready to Leave Your Sober Living Home 

You can’t live in a sober living home forever, no matter what obstacles you face. And even if it were possible, sober living homes aren’t meant to be permanent residences. 

However, if you’re unsure about your ability to stay sober, then ask yourself the following questions. If you can answer “Yes” to each of them, then you could be ready to move out of your sober living home and start the next chapter of your life. 

  • Have you been sober for an amount of time that feels right to you?
  • Do you have a place to go where your sobriety is safe and supported? 
  • Are you confident you can either overcome relapse triggers or get back on the wagon in the event of a slip?
  • Do you have a plan in place to add structure to your life, like a job or hobbies that enrich your life?
  • Are you regularly attending support group meetings like in a 12-step program? 
  • Do you have long-term goals to give you motivation and purpose?

Are You Ready to Take the First Steps Toward Recovery?

If you or a loved one is looking for a sober living home, then Never Alone Recovery is here to help. For more information or for a free consultation, call our toll-free number today.

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