Sober living homes are structured residential recovery settings designed to help you transition into independent living. Accountability is one of the main principles sober living homes use for a more effective transition. Being held accountable decreases the likelihood of relapse and often results in strengthened connections between clients.
Individuals in recovery work on issues related to responsibility and accountability, and developing these strengths leads to improved control over their lives and their actions. Sober living homes reinforce the principles of accountability and responsibility through house rules, regular meetings, peer accountability and the living environment itself.
Accountability Through House Rules
The house rules found in sober living programs vary from house to house. These policies are designed to keep everyone safe, maintain a drug- and alcohol-free environment and reinforce each resident’s accountability in recovery. House policies and rules aren’t meant to punish anyone, but instead are meant for positive, recovery-oriented purposes.1
Discussing the Rules at House Meetings
Regularly scheduled house meetings are open invitations to discuss the rules, how to apply the rules and to also discuss any situations where the policies were not followed. Non-compliance from a house resident can result in warnings, consequences or, in extreme cases, being asked to leave the house.
Any resident who breaks the house rules is held accountable to their fellow residents. However, this discussion of how to apply the house rules is also an opportunity to express why rules and policies exist, reminding all residents that rules improve household functioning and reinforce the principles of recovery.
When residents participate in a discussion of the house rules, a component of the conversation addresses consequences for not following established house policies. This empowers residents by allowing them to take part in important household decisions. It also facilitates the person, who is the focus of the discussion, to feel a sense of accountability to the entire household and not just to the staff.
By involving all the residents in crucial decisions, it cultivates a sense of community by creating a perception that every resident is accountable to the community, not just to the house leadership. It also opens the door for talking about the importance of maintaining an abstinent living environment.
How the Sober Living Environment Fosters Accountability
Most sober living homes provide shared rooms for two important reasons. First, isolation is counterproductive to effective recovery, so if you’re cut off from your fellow residents in a private room, it’s easier to block yourself off from others. A shared room minimizes isolation.2
Second, sharing a room maximizes accountability. It’s much more difficult to break the house rules when there are other people around to see what you’re doing. An example is breaking curfew. You’ll be less tempted to come in past curfew if you know your roommate will be in your room to see you’ve broken curfew. Your roommate will be obligated to report that you’re breaking the house rules. Shared rooms help keep you on track.
Accountability is a necessary part of an effective recovery program because it reinforces personal responsibility while keeping you safe in your recovery and your transition into independent living.