When patients are discharged from a residential addiction treatment program, they sometimes assume they are healed and their problems are over. This is a very dangerous assumption. For many going back to their home communities means facing familiar temptations and triggers. It can be difficult to remain sober in that environment without adequate aftercare.
If people in recovery choose not to return to their old neighborhood and stay far away from home, they can feel cut off and lonely which can become a different relapse trigger. One way to seek a fresh start is to team up with another person in recovery, a roommate committed to a sober lifestyle. But that’s easier said than done.
Jesse Sandler is licensed clinical social worker in California who works with recovering addicts. They are mostly young adults with dual diagnosis, suffering from anxiety, depression, and other conditions.
When Sandler was working with an intensive outpatient program in Los Angeles, he wanted to help clients stay away from their previous toxic living environment. He found out quickly that finding a sober roommate was not an easy task.
“We sat down at my computer and found out that there was nothing out there,” he told me. “So, I decided to create that space for them myself.”
The result is mysoberroommate.com, an online platform for sober people to find like-minded roommates. Finding such a roommate can be a very important element in the recovery process. Jesse has seen many cases where people in recovery moved back to their old environment with acquaintances still using drugs or they decided to move out on their own. “Frequently, that leads to bad outcomes, he says.
“I wanted to create something to prevent that from happening.” Much better “to find another person who is active in their sobriety and living with such a person, so they can hold each other accountable and keep each other on the path of recovery,” Sandler says.
Sandler created the website with his partner Emily Churg. It went live in June and now has more than 1,500 subscribers. Initially, they tried to connect people in major cities like New York, Los Angeles or Miami. They quickly received emails from Minneapolis and Seattle asking “Why can’t I find my state on this?”
Inspired by the positive response, Sandler and Churg added more places and areas known for a strong rehab presence like Prescott, Arizona or Jacksonville, Florida. “We opened it up quickly to more areas, Sandler told me. “It’s not available everywhere in the United States yet but it’s pretty widespread.”
Several of Sandler’s colleagues told their clients about the website and heard back that they found sober roommates that way. Sandler hopes, his website will help prevent relapses and reduce the stigma of addiction by becoming part of the conversation about disordered substance use as well as raising awareness of the importance of mutual support in a sober environment.
Relapse prevention is a critical component of any recovery program. Decision Point Center offers a Relapse Prevention Program that explores possible triggers for addiction and substance use disorder in group settings. Patients learn to identify high-risk situations while developing coping and situation management skills. Preparing for those moments which can trigger a relapse inspires confidence. And a sober roommate can provide additional support.