If a judge believes that addiction played a role in your DUI, your sentence could include various forms of alcohol or drug treatment. Most of these just involve meetings or a brief stay in a rehabilitation center. But some require a long-term move to a residential program known as sober housing or a sober living environment. You need to understand what this kind of program entails and how it will affect your life after your DUI.
Sober Living vs. Rehab
Rehab and sober living are often used to mean the same thing, but they’re very different. Rehab is short for rehabilitation and involves a formal stay at a medical facility. The purpose of rehab is to help you transition off of drugs. The transition from some chemicals can be very hard on your body and mind, involving a period of “withdrawal” as your body detoxifies. Rehab lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It is not meant for long term living; when the person is detoxified, they move on.
Sober housing is meant to be used as your full time home for weeks, months or years. Some people come into sober housing from rehab, but many simply move in as-is. When you move into a sober living environment, you are making a commitment to living without alcohol or drugs. You will be around others who have made this commitment and receive day to day support in living up to your decision.
Rules of a Sober Living Environment
All sober living environments have rules. These rules are designed to support the new, healthy lifestyle of the residents. Rules vary from one residence to another but they generally include:
- Total sobriety. No drug or alcohol use is allowed at all while you live in the residence. It doesn’t matter if it’s on or off the premises, day or night, alone or with others. You formally agree to remain sober 24/7 and if you are found to break this agreement you may be asked to leave.
- A curfew. All residents will be expected to follow a curfew. The curfew is generally different from one resident to another, and you will be allowed to help set your own curfew. The purpose of this curfew is to make sure you are in the house surrounded by sober people at the times you will be most tempted to relapse. Those times usually include nights and weekends (adjusted for your work schedule, if any). You are allowed to leave the residence, but you must abide by your curfew in doing so.
- Household involvement. All residents will be expected to help with chores such as cooking and cleaning.
Programs and Support for Residents
The advantage of a sober living environment is that you are surrounded by like-minded people, who share the same struggles as you and have lived through similar experiences. As part of that positive support, the residence will provide a variety of programs to help you. Usually you are required to attend some or all of these programs. They can include:
- A 12-step recovery program such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. This includes meetings at least once a week to speak with fellow recovering addicts about your recovery and the challenges you face.
- Group counseling services. You and other residents can meet together with a licensed therapist in an open, supportive environment.
- One on one counseling. You may also be assigned a therapist for private, ongoing sessions.
Any of these services can take place on the premises or at a different location. Transportation may be provided. Other services such as job placement assistance or career training may also be available.
How Much Does it Cost?
A sober living residence is not inexpensive. You will be expected to pay for your stay. The cost varies from program to program, but includes housing, meals, and all the services you receive. It is usually in the range of hundreds of dollars a month, often more. Many of these facilities are not-for-profit organizations and will do everything they can to keep the price down for residents, but every resident is still expected to help.
If you are ordered into a program and cannot afford it, the courts may assist you by paying a part of it for you. You may have to show documentation of your income. You will usually still have to pay something, even if it is a reduced price.
What If I Leave?
A sober residence will not force you to stay. However, leaving means you have not completed the terms of your probation. Similarly, if you are asked to leave because of broken rules, breaking curfew, or any other reason, you have violated your probation. At that point you may be put in jail or be given a further alternative sentence.
For some drivers convicted of DUI, entering a sober living environment is the start of turning their lives around. For others it’s an unnecessary and excessive step, a form of punishment. Your goal in your DUI case should be to get the best possible outcome for your future. For many, this means no jail and no court-ordered rehab. It can even mean being acquitted.
Don’t face your DUI charge without a good lawyer. We can connect you with a Los Angeles DUI attorney who will give you a FREE consultation and help you choose the right path in your case. Simply fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.