A New Take on a Sober House: A Safe Drinking House for Addicts (and You're Paying for It!)

VH1 has a series called Sober House, a place where celebrity addicts live in order to learn how to live a life of sobriety after rehab. While the show is better known for its drama, antics and lack of success, sober houses are real and there are thousands of them in America.  Once a person completes standard rehabilitation, they can choose (or do so due to court order) to live in a group home that is monitored  by counselors who ensure the residents stay away from drugs, alcohol or whatever their addiction is.  

Residents hold down jobs and live a relatively normal life. Sober houses are generally considered a good way to transition from rehab to living a regular life on the outside.  Occupants port each other, continue individual/group therapy and are carefully monitored for sobriety. There is often a zero tolerance policy for falling off the wagon. One bad choice and a person i]

A new trend is emerging: a place called a “wet house” (as opposed to a “dry” (sober) house). This is where active addicts can stay – and drink – with little monitoring. Because they would otherwise be living under bridges and on the streets, these refuges are seen as better than nothing.  Counseling is available but not mandatory. Some residents want the \help in getting sober; others merely want shelter and a clean \\very small stipend every month to use as they wish. Most use it for personal items, snacks and the like – and spend the rest on alcohol.  

These houses have come under fire for not insisting on sobriety. Residents  are not held accountable for their actions, they argue – and get to live in a home for free with a small allowance thereby rewarding the addict for his behavior.  But others talk about the reality that not every alcoholic is going to get sober and that it’s better to keep them off the streets. A study (conducted by the University of Washington) showed that these houses cost the tax payer half of what homeless alcoholics cost in terms of health care, jail time and rehab. Supporters say that wet houses are not dens of inequity; rather they are calm places for addicts to live, rather than face life on the streets. But most people living in these houses don’t accept eventual rehabilitation or sobriety and many die from their alcoholism.  There is a sense of doom among some of the residents. And many of the alcoholics themselves see both sides of the coin when it comes to the detractors and supporters of these programs.  But to admit that help is needed, an addict must be prepared to change every aspect of their lives. And many of these addicts are simply not prepared to do that. 

I'm sometimes a bit conservative when it comes to these topics but I think I like what I hear, because I know all too well that sobriety just isn't going to happen for some people (#1 winning!). Drug addicts and prostitutes receive clean needles and condoms, so programs like this aren’t really new. Does anyone agree with the purpose of these “wet houses” especially since they save tax payer money? Or do you think rehab and sobriety should be mandatory? Is that a realistic demand?

 

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