Sober Living | Johanna Bergland

After 8 years of heavy drinking, I’d gotten myself clean and spent 3 months in the Progress Valley halfway house in Bloomington, Minnesota. I was nearly finished with the program there and I needed a plan. While I was in the halfway house, I had heard lots of people talk about the positive qualities of sober living facilities. 

Sober living facilities are group homes for people in recovery that are free of alcohol and drugs. They operate like a co-op in which everybody contributes to the upkeep of the house with rent and chores. I had no place to live and not much money so my options were either to live in a sober living home or go to a shelter. I chose sober living. 

I had mixed feelings about going into a sober living facility. I knew I would have no problem maintaining cleanliness and staying out of my roommate’s business. But I’d also heard about cattiness between women and about residents using alcohol and drugs.

I hadn’t been around drugs or alcohol for 10 months and I wasn’t sure how I would handle someone using around me. I discussed the pros and cons with my counselor and with other women who were planning on transitioning to sober living at the same time I was. In the end, the pros outweighed the cons.

Sober Living | Johanna Bergland

The supportive sober living staff was great. At a weekly meeting, the residents and house manager addressed any issues between residents or in the apartments. Conflicts between residents are unavoidable whenever people are living together and they were usually resolved, sometimes with help from the staff.

Transitioning from halfway house treatment to living on your own can be scary. I’d had so much structure in treatment that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to maintain it on my own. As I’d suspected, my biggest issue was residents using alcohol or drugs.

A couple of times I reported my suspicions of others’ chemical use to the staff. The first time, I was hesitant about reporting it because I didn’t want the resident to get in trouble. Even though there was a policy of immunity, I felt like a nark to turn them in. But I knew reporting them would be helping them and keeping a clean house is important for everybody.

While in sober living, I regained life skills around finances and bills, cooking meals and doing chores, maintaining employment, and building sober friendships. I even re-entered college and completed my license to become a drug and alcohol counselor. 

Sober Living | Johanna Bergland

In the almost 2 years I lived in sober living, I saved money with reasonable rent but even more, I had the support of my roommates. The sense of belonging with the community was huge in my growth and I was also grateful to have access to public transportation, the support of the staff, and to be living in a safe place. Best of all, I gained self-worth and the confidence that I could live on my own and stay sober. 

Life challenges don’t stop just because you are sober. My experience there gave me the time I needed to be sure I could cope with life’s stressors before I lived on my own without the security of sober living. After almost 3 years sober, I decided to live independently, confident that I could live on my own without alcohol or drugs. 

If you or anyone you know is thinking about moving into a sober living facility, weigh the pros and cons, research which facility is appropriate for you, ask lots of questions, have an open mind, be patient, and do the work. Making the decision to live a sober life is huge and I’ve found sober living to be a great and fun resource of support and community.

Related Posts:

4 Key’s to Getting Sober | Johanna Bergland

Getting Started in Step Work |Noah Bergland

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