• ARCH Recovery Programs

What Separates A Sober Living Environment From Short-Term Rehab

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

How many times have you said I’ll get sober tomorrow? I clearly have a problem but I can seek treatment for my addiction in the morning? How many tear-soaked apologies full of good intentions have you performed to get out of immediate trouble only to find yourself performing the same swan song in twelve hours? Better still, how many times have you caught yourself in the mirror, and said ‘who is that?’ If you’re like me, and chances are you are, you checked the box for all three.

Let’s take it one step further; how often does that process repeat itself like some nauseating merry-go-round? Want to hit the kill switch? The seemingly bad news is there isn’t one. The good news is you don’t need one. There’s something so much better for you than the instant gratification brought on by the immediacy of drugs and alcohol. That’s right it’s living sober, and the best thing about it is it’s there every day of your life, all you have to do is give time-time.

Some time back I spent about a year in a sober living environment (halfway house), much like a recovery residence in Georgia called ARCH. As is often the case with differing philosophies towards the Big Book, sobriety, different takes and interpretations there are phrasings that unify and solidify each own identity. While some circles will tell you their way is the only way, others believe in the spirit of ‘whatever keeps you sober makes you, strong, whole and humble.’ I digress; one of the phrases at this community that helped ultimately save my life, was geared towards ‘getting it.’ There is often talk in the sober community about ‘getting it.’ It plagued me. “Get what?” Am I supposed to drink from this technicolor kool aid and suddenly the heavens open up, at which point light strikes my chest; like something seen in a Hollywood movie, ridding me of all cravings, desires and pain? I hesitate to spoil the experience of discovery for you but here’s a realization that I wish would have dawned on me sooner in the process;…ready? The ONLY thing to get is that there is no ‘it.’ There is no moment of ‘cure’ and proclamation of full recovery where you stand on top an Olympic platform and get knighted with a gold medal. Whether you subscribe to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (12-step) verbatim, or go the SMART Recovery (12-Step alternative) route, sobriety is work. And it’s a process. However, unlike the continuous circle of the dope hunt and the web of lies, it’s a process of singular days each more rewarding than the last. And isn’t that what life is? Good or bad. For better or worse the simple sum of a life is shouldered by it’s building blocks and is that it in in fact, one thing after another, after another, after another. One patient foot in front of the other. No matter who you talk to and which philosophy and way they’re set upon, all in all everyone for the most part agrees that this happens one day at time….

What does this mean?

It means that you’re free of the pressure to do anything other than live your life and abide by your program. It means that it’s not a contest; although it may feel like it sometimes at first, that passes. The most operative word in anyone’s sobriety quest to sober living should easily be ‘adventure’. There is a reason whether people in twelve step programs agree or not, that one should do ninety in ninety (ninety meetings in ninety days). It’s not as a punishment. It’s not to brainwash you. And it’s certainly not because the old-timers are looking for kicks on a Friday night. It’s in an effort to grow fond of a healthy routine. Let’s face it you didn’t have one before. Each day is a building block. Giving in and letting go, thus handing yourself over to sobriety is a commitment. This routine will be what keeps you sober. Another thing we can all agree on is that alcoholism and drug addiction is a patient, sneaky, seductively charming and once you put your guard down crawls back with a knife in its teeth. Imagine a gargoyle with nothing to do with its life but feed off your pain. You must stay aware and vigilant. Very much in the same way when you were in active addiction. You remember how that went?A short-con would dovetail into the other long-con interspersed with stealing from your job and your mom’s purse. Sounds familiar? That was a lot of work too. And fear. And paranoia. Your recovery from substance abuse neither wants nor offers any of those things, living a sober life offers quite the opposite. The great thing about getting and living sober is that it only asks that you trust the process and keep one foot in front of the other as you go on a sobering adventure. Always keeping forward motion. In the beginning of the process momentum is perhaps your most valuable asset.

Let me ask you this; what’s the most enjoyable part of going on a vacation? Getting off the airplane, unpacking exhausted and returning to your normal routine? Or is it the spontaneity of being in a new place, experiencing something new, something foreign and seeing things in yourself and the world around you that you never knew to exist? If you’re awake? If you’re hungry for life and look forward to drinking every last drop the earth has to offer it’s likely the latter. Why shouldn’t we be hungry for life? We’re the ones living it. The journey of sobriety IS the joy that drives it. Although each new day may be fraught with new challenges you learn to see them as an entity in and of itself. This is the very reason that halfway houses or sober living environments with no pressure to immediately return home are a far better option over rehab alone. The work is that intense and why shouldn’t it be. There’s so much work to do within yourself and once you find the right track you’ll be amazed at your new hunger. The value of focusing for an extended period of time on a better life is immeasurable.

Happiness, forgiveness, and spirituality are gifts that aren’t handed to you over night.

However, the sober living provide you with include;

- An in depth understanding of alcoholism /addiction /substance abuse the freedom that spirituality and understanding can provide in getting and staying sober.

- Life routine; a blueprint towards living life in RECOVERY from alcoholism and drug addiction to its fullest, while still managing your basic human obligations.

- Properly addressing the past while caring for the future.

- The proper way of reconciling and repairing the toll of damage you may have caused without heavy guilt and remorse.

- Learning and knowing the difference between questionable ideas and proper decision making.

- Knowing and valuing the importance of caring for your health, both mental and physical as not only an obligation, but a privilege.

These are just some of the few building blocks that are justly earned towards a full life of recovery that a short-term facility cannot. We are in it for the long haul. This is a new life habit, one that will have you overflowing with gratitude to wake up every morning with renewed purpose.

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