Why Sober Living Can Give You a Better Life

Sober living is a program that can help those struggling with substance abuse lead a healthier life. Read on to learn about how sober living can help.

What Is Sober Living?

Embracing a healthy and sober lifestyle will help you improve your overall quality of life. Sober living prioritizes healthy, fulfilling, and positive habits over alcohol and drug use. Most importantly, a sober life dramatically improves your physical, mental, and social life. Whether looking for a better lifestyle, overcoming addiction, or improving your overall well-being, substance-free living is a powerful tool to help you in all areas of your life.1

Substance-Free Living

Substance-free living is a program to help those transitioning into daily life after inpatient or outpatient treatment. Sober living generally takes place in homes called sober houses or sober homes. These homes offer a serene environment that is free from distractions.

These healthy-living homes offer many treatment options, but doctors advise treatment patients to stay for at least 30 days in an inpatient facility before joining sober living treatment.

How Can Sober Living Help You?

The environment in substance-free living will teach you healthier ways of coping with any stressors while helping you understand the root of any issues due to substance abuse.

Because recovery can be challenging, these homes create a sense of community that helps you to readjust smoothly. You also can interact with like-minded individuals while you work, go to school, or return to your family, meaning you can have a support network while you get used to everyday life after treatment.

Why Is Sober Living Important?

It may take some people longer to go through treatment before being able to attend a substance-free home. Some people may even relapse after their initial journey to become sober, which is normal and is nothing to be ashamed about. However, attending a sober living home before re-acclimating to the everyday world can help cut down on relapse rates.2

Here are some more reasons as to why substance-free living is vital after treatment:

Friendship and Community

These homes bring together individuals with similar missions under the same roof in order to help each other and heal. Though recovery can seem alienating, in sober living, you are surrounded by people who understand the problems and issues associated with recovery. Members can get together, watch a movie, attend recovery meetings, and keep each other strong.

Get Back in Control

Addiction has both internal and external challenges. Some external challenges include the difficulty to clean your home, maintain relationships, and continue work. Sober programs help you regain control in a supportive and healthy environment.

Drug-Free and Non-Alcohol Environment

If you have just completed an inpatient treatment facility and rejoined your everyday life, risk factors for relapse could be everywhere. Luckily, substance-free homes are 100% free from alcohol or drugs. This means that you will have a risk-free environment along with peer support and techniques to help you stay vigilant in your recovery.

What Does Addiction Look Like?

Addiction is a disease that impacts both your body and your brain. Additionally, addiction can appear in many different forms, including compulsive behaviors like shopping or gambling. Today, most specialists recognize the following types of addiction:3
  • Chemical addiction: Addiction to substances.
  • Behavioral addiction: Addiction to behaviors that you continuously do even when they are not beneficial.
Before we look at these addiction types, let’s first understand how addiction works.

The Reward System

Your brain has a reward system that leads you to repeat certain activities you find enjoyable. These activities may range from simple routines, such as hanging out with friends, to harmful behaviors, like using illicit substances.
When you engage in these activities, your reward system releases dopamine. Dopamine boosts your brain’s association with these activities and the feelings of pleasure. In the end, you may continue seeking these feelings again in the future, leading you to unhealthy substance abuse.

Cravings and Tolerance

Over time, your desire for dopamine may cause continued substance use or engagement in the same activities. You may be at a higher risk if you partake in events that could cause your substance use to increase, such as frequently attending parties where friends are drinking. These cravings usually are the first sign that you have developed a substance abuse disorder.
As addiction develops, you may also start losing interest in the activities you once enjoyed doing. This happens because your brain becomes reliant on the activity or substance you’re partaking in. During this phase, controlling substance use or doing specific behaviors is challenging, and you are in the stage of dependence.4

How Addiction Happens

The Types of Addiction

Now that we understand how addiction works, we can dive into the two types of addiction.

Chemical Addiction

Chemical addiction involves the use of drugs, substances, and alcohol. Chemical addiction can be difficult to classify because there is often confusion between substance dependency, misuse, and addiction.

Hence, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders uses the term substance use disorder to help classify addiction problems as either mild, moderate, or severe.

Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Some addictive substances include alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, methamphetamine, and nicotine. Others are addictive opioids that include prescription pain medicines like oxycodone and morphine. Some common symptoms of substance use disorder include:

  • Intense cravings 
  • Needing to use more of the substance to achieve the same results
  • Not enjoying activities you once used to
  • Not being able to stop using the substance, even when you want to
  • Exhibiting withdrawal symptoms when you try quitting
  • Weakening or strained personal relationships
  • Engaging in risky behaviors, such as working or driving under the influence
  • Feeling an overwhelming discomfort or unease when you don’t use the substance
  • Developing problems with managing your work, school, or home life

Behavioral Addiction

There are inevitable disagreements as to whether behavioral addiction indeed involves addictions. However, the DSM-5 recognizes two behavioral addictions: gambling addiction and internet gaming disorder.
Though most medical experts agree that certain behaviors become problematic over time, there is still debate surrounding when behaviors turn into addiction and what specific behaviors have the potential to become addictive.

Signs of Behavioral Addiction

However, some signs of behavioral addiction are:
  • Spending too much time doing the behavior
  • Continuing to do the activity even with obvious distress
  • Having a difficult time avoiding the behavior
  • Using the behavior to avoid facing your emotions  

Common Types of Behavioral Addictions

Some common behavioral addictions include:
  • Food addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • TV, phone, or internet addiction
  • Social media addiction
  • Exercise addiction
  • Shopping addiction
For many people, any behavior that causes them to exhibit unhealthy attitudes and strains their relationships could be detrimental and lead to dependence or addiction. It’s important you or a loved one meet with a medical provider if you think you may be exhibiting any of the above symptoms or issues.

How Can Addiction Impact You Over Time?

There are several adverse effects addiction can bring into your life. These will be detailed below.


Substances can quickly add up over time, even if the substance is legal, such as alcohol or nicotine. Additionally, dependence on a drug generally requires you to use larger doses to achieve the desired results, meaning you have to buy larger doses to satisfy your desires.
Also, the social and biological effects that drugs have on you can make it hard for you to save or earn an income. You could lose jobs because you fail to manage your work life or perform tasks productively. You could even lose your home or apartment due to a lack of enough money.


Drug addiction can impact your physical health in more ways than one. Many people start developing conditions like sleep deprivation, heart problems, weight and appetite loss, and more. Additionally, chronic addiction puts one at risk of contracting long-term conditions like cancer, liver conditions, lung disease, mental health problems, and more over time.

However, even with the short-term use of drugs, addiction can have a physical toll rather quickly. Consistent use of some drugs, like tobacco, ages your skin and harms your teeth or gums.


Those with substance abuse disorders often tend to have strained personal relationships due to substance use. Over time, many become isolated due to their reliance on substances. This could be due to them prioritizing the substance over their friends or family, or due to other issues that arise from dependence and substance abuse.

Isolation can become dangerous, as it often leads to depression, stress, or other medical problems.


Your emotional well-being is essential to stay productive, maintain high energy, and achieve long-term goals. Unfortunately, substance abuse changes how the brain functions, which may lead you to have unregulated emotions.

What Treatment Options Are Involved in Sober Living?

When you are ready to enroll at a sober living facility, some treatment opportunities include the following:

Peer Support

Sober living typically involves creating a sense of community and forming a support network to hold your hands as you progress with recovery. It will help you recover, especially when trying to distance yourself from relationships that also use alcohol or drugs. The peer support helps create a sense of belonging, encouragement to stay sober, and camaraderie.

Senior members in the sober living home can help with most of this work, hosting self-help meetings, giving hope, and supporting the newer members. A sense of community such as this fosters self-worth and pride in those involved.

Counseling and Therapy

Some sober living facilities conduct both individual and group therapies for those who may need or want them. These sessions usually help find underlying issues contributing to your drug use disorder. Most importantly, you can open up about any issues, fears, or uncertainties about recovery.

Life Skills Training

Life skills training is an essential factor in sober living homes. These skills are usually tailored to help you improve your habits and ways of life, like financial management, relationship-building, and job skills. From this training, you can build a more stable and successful career in a sober living home. These life skills will help you find and maintain employment once you fully join society.

12-Step Programs

Most sober living programs incorporate some 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA and NA offer peer support, a structured recovery roadmap, and a supportive community.

Sober living recommends that all residents actively participate in the 12-step programs, get a sponsor, complete the 12 steps, and volunteer in service positions coordinating the meeting.

Holistic Therapies

Holistic therapies can help you connect with yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. You can start to understand every aspect of your life along with your strengths and weaknesses. You can also learn how to cope with and manage your substance use disorder.

Some holistic therapies include art therapy, yoga, nutrition and dietary counseling, meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy.5

Overview of Substance Use Treatment

Treatment Opportunities at Essence

At Essence Healthcare, we strive to bring quality treatment services to our patients. We have tailored our multidisciplinary approach to ensure our patients receive individualized treatment, maintain their recovery goals, and help them achieve health and holistic wellness. Some of our treatment services include:6

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

One type of recovery program that many people find helpful is called a partial hospitalization program (PHP). Our PHP offers an intensive, structured outpatient care model designed to provide comprehensive treatment services in the least restrictive setting possible. It typically consists of at least five hours of therapy each day with a multi-disciplinary team including doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. Treatment is focused on helping individuals struggling with addiction or other mental health issues learn necessary coping and problem-solving skills to develop healthier behavior patterns and life choices.

Benefits of participating in a PHP can include: increased self-awareness and understanding of addiction or mental illness, improved coping skills and emotional regulation, enhanced ability to interact in healthy relationships, increased opportunity for success in long-term recovery, reduction of relapse risk and more.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a breakthrough treatment for those experiencing addiction and mental health issues. It works by sending small magnetic pulses to the brain that can rearrange pathways in the brain associated with addiction, depression, and other mental health issues. This noninvasive treatment has been found to be extremely effective in helping patients take the first step toward addiction recovery.

Sober Living

Our sober living program provides support and structure for people in the early stages of addiction recovery. It is especially beneficial for those seeking to transition from rehab to everyday life while receiving additional support and guidance.

These supports can include help with daily activities like meal planning, job coaching, and connecting to treatment providers or other services. Sobriety is about more than just abstaining from drugs or alcohol – it’s also about developing healthy habits that will lead to long-term recovery. Sober living programs like ours provide an environment that is conducive to developing and maintaining sobriety, while providing helpful resources in a safe and supportive atmosphere.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

This combines medications, counseling, and behavioral therapies to improve quality of life, reduce drug dependence and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This therapy helps you to understand that your feelings, emotions, and thoughts significantly affect your overall mental well-being. Our doctors can help you replace negative emotions, thoughts, and feelings with positive ones.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical-behavioral therapy was developed from CBT. Today, most doctors may use it to treat other substance use disorders and some mental health disorders as well.

Dialectical-behavioral therapy can help you control your emotions, build healthy relationships, and deal with stressful situations without using drugs. DBT includes individual and group therapy sessions and training in mindfulness, emotion regulation, getting along with others, and handling distress. Our tailored DBT approach focuses on four primary areas: emotion regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.

Level of Care at Essence Healthcare

We have designed our levels of care with different treatment intensities and support depending on the individual patients. Some of our services include:
  • Medical detox: Detox helps you abstain from addiction and gives you the necessary medication to manage withdrawal symptoms. This process may be risky and may take days or even months.
  • Sub-Acute Detox: This type of detox is prescribed for individuals suffering from less severe drug withdrawal symptoms.
  • Inpatient drug rehab: Our patients receive comprehensive and intense addiction treatment in a residential setting. We recommend this type of treatment if you have developed a severe addiction. 
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Our unique and comprehensive program allows patients to seek treatment during the day and return home in the evening. Some treatments include medication management, group, and individual therapy.
  • Outpatient Drug Program: We will help you maintain your regular routines while you attend therapy sessions, support groups, and medication management in our facility.
  • Drug Rehab Aftercare: Once rehab is over, we ensure you get ongoing resources and support to help you maintain your sobriety progress and eliminate relapse. We have regular check-ins, educational services, sober living homes, and skills training.

How Essence Healthcare Can Help You With Sober Living

Sober living offers powerful tools to help you transition back into society seamlessly and with a holistic understanding of yourself. Whether you seek help for the first time or are already on the path of addiction recovery, sober living will help you rebuild your plans for a healthier and more fulfilling life.
If you are just starting in recovery or have been through it before, we can help you find the treatment plans and help you need in order to heal holistically from substance abuse. We will guide you toward the necessary recovery steps to accomplish sustainable wellness.

Reach Out and Begin Healing

Contact us if you or a loved one need help with starting the detox process, receiving inpatient or outpatient treatment, finding a sober living home, or attending therapy. Our caring and supportive staff will create an individualized treatment plan that fits you and your needs. Reach out to us today.

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.