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Transitioning Out of Sober Living

A sober living house is a dwelling for those who want to live in a safe alcohol and drug-free environment for extended periods. Taking the big step of moving out of sober living and back into reality can be both intimidating and intense. Feeling anxious and even scared about moving out of sober living is normal. By setting clear boundaries and routines based on sober living house rules, you can greatly improve your chances of staying sober in the real world.


List of Essentials for a Smooth Living Transition

A study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs confirms that a stable living environment is fundamental to recovery after a sober living situation. A person’s environment, especially after treatment or newly in recovery, should model a sober living house in rules, safety measures, and expectations for sobriety and growth.  


A person moving from a sober living situation back to outpatient care should be prepared with:

  • A place to live. If you can, find a safe space for you to live and continue to practice your sobriety. 
  • Social support. Connecting with family, friends, a sponsor, or anyone else in your life who you feel close to can help you stay sober. 
  • A sobriety-centered support group. This may include 12-Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), a hospital support group, a religious support group, or your local rehabilitation center support group. Your peers in your sobriety-centered group can also provide social support, but it’s best to have trusted people who you can turn to at any hour. 
  • Routine. Keeping a routine and having goals to complete by the end of the day can help fill your time and benefit your mental health. 
  • Boundaries. Your relationships before treatment will likely change after treatment. Because the addictive substance is taken out of the equation, your social interactions will also likely be different. Don’t be discouraged — you need to continue to do what’s best for your health and sobriety. Set boundaries that make you comfortable and stick to them.
  • Continued therapy. Therapy and mental health maintenance are as important to sobriety as abstinence from addictive substances. 

Another way to help yourself stay sober is to help others stay sober. According to a study published by Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, the thought of helping others can keep you going one day at a time. There are many ways that you can provide support. Being a voice of reason and honest reflection in meetings is helpful, as well as answering questions for newer members who are curious. Think about what helped you most early on in your recovery, and do what you can to be a positive force for those around you. Thinking toward the future, you may even want to sponsor another person someday. 


What To Expect in Recovery, In or Out of Sober Living 

Recognizing the signs and patterns of relapse are critical to helping a person in recovery prevent relapse. According to a study published by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, there are three stages of relapse:

  • Emotional relapse: The person is not considering using, but experiencing negative emotions, heightened anxiety, poor self-care, and other mental health issues that often lead to relapse. To prevent relapse from happening, consider therapy at this stage to help alleviate some of those fears. 
  • Mental relapse: The person may be planning a relapse but experiencing an internal war over whether they should or not. This may include bargaining with themselves for addictive substances, lying, craving addictive substances, or glamorizing the past. This stage can also be halted by therapy or talking with loved ones about the consequences of addiction and what it has already cost you. 
  • Physical relapse: This is when a person has physically used a substance, either as a one-time use (lapse) or uncontrolled use (relapse). This can be stopped by re-entering the treatment process.


If you are tempted by thoughts of relapse, consider these strategies for relapse prevention:

  • Negative thinking or self-labeling only worsens one’s self-image. Build your self-image by thinking positively about the small goals you achieve one day at a time. 
  • Fear of recovery or not measuring up is valid, but you can learn coping skills and be stronger than your fears.
  • Redefining fun is necessary and important to recovery. You can still be a fun person without drugs or alcohol and their negative consequences.
  • Learning from setbacks is vital to recovery and can help you make better choices in the future.
  • Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is an important skill to develop. Remember that negative feelings are not a sign of failure but a sign of normalcy and opportunity for growth.


Taking the step to move from a sober living situation to a new place can be liberating but also scary. Having anxiety about moving into a new living situation in recovery is normal, and it’s okay to feel nervous about it. At RECO Intensive, we understand that changing spaces can be challenging for your sobriety. You’ve come this far, and we are here to help you succeed on every step of your journey. RECO Intensive offers a safe space for continued treatment, with a flexible plan that is unique and personal to you. Our professional staff and experienced alumni will guide you through your recovery with plenty of support. RECO Intensive offers you a safe environment with inpatient treatment packages, partial hospitalization packages, sober living house packages, and intensive outpatient packages. RECO Intensive also offers cognitive behavioral therapy for anyone in need of a change of pace or thinking. To learn more, call RECO Intensive today at (561) 464-6533


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