It’s been said that getting sober is easy; staying sober is the hard part. Dawn Farm and the Home of New Vision (see Substance Abuse Support Groups) offer their newly sober clients a way to increase their odds for long-term recovery: supervised ­sober-living housing where residents continue to build their recovery support systems after treatment, and take the first steps in the process of reintegration with society before they go on to live independently. “Just staying sober without a job or a safe place to live [after treatment] puts the sobriety of a newly sober person at risk,” says Glynis Anderson, Home of New Vision’s founder and executive director.

Charles Coleman, Dawn Farm’s Transitional Housing Program coordinator, and Anderson acknowledge that while differences exist between the respective programs they oversee, there are more commonalities. Potential residents must generally have been sober for thirty days before applying. They’re assigned to a communal living situation with other recently sober residents of the same sex, usually sharing a bedroom. All residents are responsible for household chores and must be actively working or seeking full-time employment. If unemployed, they must be attending school or volunteering full-time until they find work. Frequent participation in 12-step recovery meetings and intensive outpatient programs is mandatory, as is random drug and alcohol screening. Residents must also observe curfews and other house rules, attend weekly house meetings, and participate in peer groups where they not only take responsibility for their actions, but recognize how their actions impact the group as a whole. An in-house manager monitors compliance; anyone violating the rules is subject to sanctions, including possible dismissal. Case managers direct clients to support services that include educational, financial, employment, and counseling programs.

While a minimum six-month stay in sober housing is recommended, most residents reside up to a year and others up to two. Coleman and Anderson agree that the longer a resident stays in safe, affordable sober housing, the better his or her chances for continuing recovery.

Home of New Vision currently has thirteen beds in its two homes for women, and nine beds in its single house for men. Dawn Farm has 160 beds within its five residential transitional houses and five apartment facilities in Ann Arbor. Monthly housing expenses range from $425 to $450 and include utilities, laundry facilities, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. Insurance usually does not cover these costs; sometimes family members help out, but most residents pay their own way through working income, Social Security, or a pension. The goal, Coleman says, is for all residents to become self-supporting as soon as they can.

David D., a self-employed contractor, gives credit for his more than two years of sobriety to his stay at Dawn Farm’s Transitional Housing. Raised by upper-middle-class parents, David was a promising all-A student and athletic achiever. But after high school, he fell prey to an alcohol and drug habit, and the criminal activity to support it. He had overdosed and been on life support three times before making his way to treatment. “I really wanted to be sober, but I knew I wasn’t capable of acting like a sober person, even after five-and-a-half months of treatment,” he says. “My brain couldn’t function properly because of the continuing withdrawal from heroin and Xanax, and I couldn’t talk or act right. Transitional Housing gave me the support I needed and a safe place to rest my head. It’s where my recovery really took off.”