What Happens If I Relapse in a Sober House?

relapse in sober living

What Happens If I Relapse in a Sober House?

Early recovery is a tricky time for people struggling with substance use disorder. The transition from the safe, enclosed environment of inpatient treatment back to everyday life is extremely stressful. Because of this stress and the newness of being sober, there are high rates of relapse during the first few months of sobriety.[1]

Sober houses or sober living helps to ease the move back into the outside world. In sober houses, individuals in early recovery live together and support each other. This environment is meant to promote success for long-term recovery, however, slip-ups still happen even in sober living. So what exactly happens if you relapse in sober living?

Sober House Rules

The rules of a sober house are meant to protect the people living there. It provides a space where they can still be a part of day-to-day life, while also having somewhere to go that is drug and alcohol-free. The rules of a sober house ensure that the inhabitants are not using drugs or alcohol.

While rules might vary slightly from house to house, they all include the same basic ones. This includes:

  • No alcohol, drugs, or related paraphernalia in the house
  • Submitting to regular drug and alcohol screenings
  • Attending outpatient treatment and/or 12-step programs
  • Working a job or volunteering
  • Completing chores in the house

If these rules are broken, people risk getting kicked out of sober living. For instances where people are found with prohibited items or if they refuse or fail any drug and alcohol tests, they will be required to leave the house immediately.

Preventing Relapse While in Sober Living

Avoiding a relapse altogether is the ideal situation. There are steps to take in order to prevent relapse while in sober living. It is important to build a strong sober support network. This can include some people in the house who have been there for longer, but should also include people with multiple years sober as well.

12-Step Meetings

The best place to meet people with long-term sobriety is at 12-step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These meetings not only offer a place to meet people who can guide and mentor you throughout your recovery, but are also a safe space to share things you may be struggling with.

Maintaining a Routine

In addition to sober support and continuing to actively work on your recovery, it is also important to maintain a routine. Having a routine that includes productive activities throughout the day such as working, volunteering, and completing chores provides a sense of purpose and helps to maintain long-term sobriety.

Practicing Self Care

It is also important to do things that you enjoy. Having a hobby or simply taking time for yourself will improve mental health and overall sense of wellbeing. This reduces the overall risk of relapse.[2]

What if I Relapse While in Sober Living?:

If you relapse while in sober living, there is no need to panic. Relapse is an unfortunate, but very normal part of recovery for many people. The people in charge of sober living houses understand this. Although you will be asked to leave sober living if you relapse, you will be offered help to recover from the relapse.

Going Back to Detox

After a relapse on drugs or alcohol, the first step will be to go through detox. This is to ensure the substances leave your system while you are safely monitored by medical professionals. For those who had shorter-lived relapses of only one night, they may not have to spend very long in detox. Your house manager or sober living staff may help you make arrangements to get into detox.

Rehab: Round Two

After completing detox, it is important to identify the circumstances that led to the relapse. This is done during inpatient rehab where you will explore why you relapsed. Understanding what occurred to trigger the use of drugs and alcohol again will allow you to recognize the signs of relapse. Your therapist in rehab will work with you closely to develop a relapse prevention plan to be utilized after leaving inpatient treatment. This serves to prevent another relapse from occurring in the future.

Returning to Sober Living

After completing drug and alcohol rehabilitation again, you will be allowed to return to sober living. This gives you another chance to be successful in your recovery. Following a relapse prevention plan helps to avoid another one from occurring. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Get Help After a Relapse

People in early recovery commonly experience setbacks, and many people do relapse while staying in a sober living. Getting help as soon as possible after those setbacks avoids having a lengthy, painful, and destructive relapse. At Florida Recovery Group, our licensed counselors are here to help guide you and get you back to working on your sobriety. They will help you identify the root cause of your relapse as well as develop a relapse prevention plan. Contact us today to get started.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1097/01.ALC.0000153544.83656.3C
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/