Before I went to rehab I always looked down on sober homes. I had no grounds to do so, only pre-conceived notions. In my eyes, they were places for ex-cons, serious addicts, and people who were more or less homeless. In retrospect, I blame my judgment on being narrow-minded. Also, I had only passed by a few shaggy-looking halfway houses in my native New Jersey that had questionable characters hanging out outside. Little did I know I was going to end up in a sober home, and that it would be one of the best decisions I ever made.
The Life that Landed Me in Rehab
I grew up completely normally, aside from the fact that I always liked to “go big or go home.” I got drunk for the first time at 12 and drank more than all of my friends. In high school, I would always be the one pushing everyone else to party. I was known as a party girl from a young age. Things took a turn for the worse when I was prescribed Xanax for anxiety, which ironically was most likely caused by my excessive drinking. Before long, I was taking Xanax and drinking at the same time daily. On more than one occasion, I was hospitalized due to passing out or alcohol poisoning.
After two stints in detox and a long three months in outpatient rehab, I gave residential treatment a try since nothing else worked. For the first time, also, I left New Jersey for Florida, hoping that the change of scenery might help. During treatment in Florida, my therapist began suggesting that I move to sober living after rehab to help transition back into the real world. At first, I was adamant about returning home. My last week of treatment, something changed and I decided to give it a try. The day of my discharge, I moved into a sober home in West Palm Beach.
Life in a Sober Home
Let me tell you- living in a sober home was nothing like I expected. I was expecting dorm-style rooms, a shared common room, maybe a microwave and a fridge. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it was an actual house with a full kitchen, backyard, and five bedrooms. Sure, I shared a room with another girl, but it was homier than I ever anticipated.
Like with anything new, the first few days were touch and go. I took to a couple of the girls I lived with immediately. They brought me to meetings, and we got to know each other’s stories. A few of the other girls kept to themselves, but that was ok. After all, we were all there to work on ourselves, in our own way.
My sober home mandated that I go to 5 meetings a week. I had to find a job within a month of living there. I also needed to be up by 9am every day, and take care of my personal appearance and my belongings. It made me accountable and gave me goals for each day. Additionally, there was absolutely zero tolerance for alcohol or drug abuse. We got breathalyzed and UA’d regularly. While at the time it seemed like a nuisance to have to pee in a cup with the door open, I realize that having to do so kept me sober. If there ever was temptation, I looked the other way because I didn’t want to risk getting kicked out.
Sober Success Because of My Sober Home
My memories from living in a sober home are great. To this day, nearly two years later, I am still very close with many of the friends I made there. Sure, I’m grateful to have my own apartment now, but freshly out of rehab, living in a sober home was exactly what I needed to keep myself on track. There are times I think I certainly may have slipped up if I hadn’t had the support of my house mates around me. One thing I know for sure is that I may not be living the sober, successful life I am today without living in a halfway house right after rehab.
My advice to anyone newly in recovery is to give it a try! Make sure you find a legitimate, supportive home. It may help to save your life like it did mine. For information on gender-specific sober homes through Willow Place, call 1-888-651-4212.