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When considering living in a sober living facility, some people are reluctant to live by the rules they are expected to follow. As adults, these individuals may believe that they deserve independence or trust from the house manager.

Young People and Alcoholics Anonymous
However, independence and trust are earned over time through compliance with rules. Rules are important because they set expectations, and expectations measure performance. Rules also create structure and help to keep other people safe. If a house manager can’t measure a person’s performance or progress, he or she can’t tell if the person is at risk for relapse, which jeopardizes other residents’ recovery.

One way house managers measure progress is by administering drug screens that test whether a resident has recently consumed drugs or alcohol. In order to be effective, drug screens should be random and frequent. This prevents them from being manipulated in any way. Random and frequent drug screens create an added sense of accountability for residents. If they are ever triggered by a craving, they can utilize consequential thinking to “play the tape through” and recognize that a relapse will show on a drug screen, and they could potentially lose their housing as a result.

Residents who were initially resistant to the idea of having to comply with random drug screens tend to quickly recognize that they are a tool to help them in their recovery. As long as someone is staying sober, drug screens are not something to worry about. If someone does relapse, drug screens can help their support system quickly recognize the relapse and get the appropriate help.

Whether someone is doing well in their recovery or not, drug screens are a helpful way of keeping all residents in a sober living accountable and safe.