The two most common types of treatment programs that people with addictions attend are inpatient or outpatient programs. When people choose outpatient programs, they continue to reside at home and attend the treatment facility at prearranged times. Inpatient clients reside in treatment facilities, and remain residents until they complete the treatment program, after which they return to their homes.
Sober living or extended care programs are a good option for people who have previously been in recovery but relapsed afterward. While recovery programs are very successful, relapse rates range from 40 to 60 percent after treatment.1 This may seem high, but it is similar to relapse rates following treatment for other types of chronic illness, such as diabetes. Extended care programs, often referred to as sober living, are designed to reduce relapse rates, or to prolong the period that people stay sober after completing their initial treatment programs. In many cases, relapse occurs when the person in recovery returns to the environment in which they lived before getting treatment.
Addiction is an illness that can befall people who take drugs or alcohol. A common misconception is that it is a choice people make to take drugs or alcohol. In reality, a combination of factors, many of which are outside their control, can lead people to lose control of their substance use.2 Getting sober is rarely a matter of simply deciding to stop. Without the kind of expert help that people get in recovery programs, many will struggle to succeed in quitting.
Many who have successfully gotten sober using a rehab recovery program will struggle to stay sober if they return home immediately after treatment. This is particularly true when people return to an environment that stresses them. The source of that stress could be family dysfunction, lack of support, or other factors related to prior substance use.
Instead of returning to the family home after completing their recovery program, patients can move into an extended care program. These are communities of people who are in recovery, and they are alcohol- and drug-free. That means residents cannot use drugs or alcohol either in or outside the community. Many communities insist that residents agree to take random tests to ensure that they are not drinking or using drugs.
While there are strict rules in place, people are encouraged to live lives that are as normal as possible. They can come and go as they please, and they are encouraged to seek work, return to school or start training. They begin to live a normal life while still benefiting from the support network in the sober living community.
Sober living communities allow people to build on the progress they make in recovery, and better equip people to stay sober when they eventually leave the community. They ease the transition for people leaving recovery programs and retaking their place in society. They help people build confidence that they can cope with the outside world.