Parents, spouses and even children have tremendous clout in terms of getting a loved one into treatment. The problem is that they frequently fail to flex that muscle. Instead of encouraging treatment, they tolerate or even inadvertently support addictive or alcoholic behavior.
Prospective clients’ loved ones might call Clean & Sober Recovery Services for some preliminary information about treatment – and then they back away. “Well, he’s pretty committed to staying sober this time. I think we’ll hold off on formal treatment for now.” Or “She says that this DUI is absolutely the last one, and I think she can do this on her own.”
My experience has shown me that even the best intentions for sobriety seldom bear fruit. Substance use disorder is a complex disease that requires support and change on many levels: physical, spiritual, social and psychological. You wouldn’t treat cancer or diabetes with a simple wish and a prayer. Addiction to alcohol or other drugs demands the same respect and full-fledged treatment.
Loved ones usually don’t understand this disease so they look for the quick fix, just like the addict or alcoholic. They want to believe that a short stint with a trauma therapist will get to the root of the problem. They want to believe that good intentions and discipline can put the monster to rest. They want to believe that their loved one can pull himself or herself up by the bootstraps. They want to believe that this is only their loved one’s problem. The reality is that substance use disorder makes everyone as unhealthy as the beloved addict or alcoholic.
Here’s the good news: you are not alone, and we are here to support you every step of the way with an intervention, detox, residential inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment or recovery housing.
When someone has become dependent on alcohol or drugs, the first step on their road to recovery may be detoxification or “detox.” The detox process, which helps reduce physical discomfort while monitoring health and safety, is critical to safely leaving alcohol or benzodiazepines (such as Xanax) behind. Otherwise, abruptly stopping these substances can be life-threatening. And suddenly stopping other substances can be so difficult and uncomfortable that people simply give up and return to the familiar physical and mental comfort of drugs or alcohol.
With that in mind, we are excited to let you know that - starting in February - we will offer in-house detox as part of the Clean & Sober network of care.
When you think of “recovery housing,” what crosses your mind? Most people’s definition of recovery housing begins and ends with “a house without drugs or alcohol.” News flash: recovery housing is that, and so much more.
The residents of Clean & Sober Transitional Living (CSTL) shed light on what recovery housing means to them. “Being active in a sober living environment and being able to relate to another alcoholic has kept me clean and sober for over nineteen months and still going strong. For that, I’m grateful” wrote one of our residents. He’s talking about what social scientists consider “the glue” of recovery housing. It’s a culture of connection and community that gives us purpose and validation as human beings. Connection is the antidote for the loneliness and isolation that can be dangerous to those who struggle with drugs or alcohol. And fostering connection is one of the things we do best.
We designed CSTL to give people a chance to live with others who care about them. Our residents eat meals together. They volunteer together at Fair Oaks community events. They attend AA or NA meetings together, and they often walk together to those meetings. They gather in their sober homes to discuss the day or provide a shoulder to learn on. They strengthen their recovery by helping others be strong.
How do we know that recovery housing “works?” A growing body of evidence shows that recovery housing increases connectedness, a key indicator of quality of life. Our own numbers tell a similar tale. More than 6500 people have lived at CSTL since I opened the doors in 1989, and those residents have bolstered their recovery in a setting that’s been intentionally designed to increase connection and community. Overwhelmingly, our residents have sober “Ever Afters” when they transition from our recovery housing to the real world. In great part, that’s because they’ve built a strong support system via connection and community, pride and purpose.
Here’s another way that recovery housing works: Practically speaking, recovery housing opens doors that are often closed to addicts and alcoholics. Substance Use Disorder takes prisoners on many fronts. Evictions, bad credit, lost jobs and criminal convictions don’t make it easy for anyone to find housing. For the newly sober, recovery housing is often the only open door for safe, sober and affordable housing.
Others might roll up the Welcome mat and latch the deadbolt to those who seek a drug and alcohol-free life. Our doors at CSTL are wide open for those who want to change their lives.
What could 2018 look like without alcohol or other drugs? Let me count the ways…
No more harm to self or others. Fewer fights. No more trips to the pawn shop to retrieve family jewelry. Fewer trips to the ER. Fewer trips to jail, the courthouse or prison. Fewer car accidents, or accidents in general. No more covering up to Grandma, Grandpa and friends. Less self-hatred. Less sorrow and disappointment. Fewer broken marriages. Fewer lost jobs. Fewer disability claims. Less domestic violence. Less child abuse. Fewer secrets.
The holiday season brings a lot of emphasis on giving and getting gifts. Well, I get to be part of that every month of the year when CSTL residents give and receive AA recovery chips. No holiday is necessary to make those meetings special!
Recovery chips tend to mean different things at different points in a person’s recovery. When people have just gotten sober, receiving a chip is a validation to the outside world that they’re headed down the right path. It’s one of the few measuring sticks we have for sobriety. Everybody knew when you were abusing drugs or alcohol, so now everybody can witness the validation of your sobriety. Yes, there is ego involved here, and it’s a healthy, motivating force because it prompts us to recognize how far we’ve come in our recovery. And it prompts our peers to offer up the support for sobriety that can be essential early in the game.