In the 2004 my life got pretty rough. I was a daily drinker and cocaine user. I was on the verge of violating my probation and facing a 5-year prison sentence. I had completely abandoned my daughter who was 8 at the time. My family no longer trusted me or wanted me around. I had burnt my life to the ground and constantly hurt those that loved me the most. No matter how hard I tried to stop, I just could not stop.
My probation officer saw that I needed help and instead of sending me to prison, he gave me the opportunity to go to rehab for substance abuse. I accepted his offer and checked in to a 6-month program at Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in Phoenix Az. It was really a no brainer since my other choice was incarceration.
This is where my journey in sobriety began. I was required to get a sponsor, regularly attend 12 step meetings, and work the 12 steps with a sponsor. The more I did the work and the longer I stayed sober, I started to realize that a life without drugs and alcohol is possible. The 6-month program flew by. Around my 5th month the fear of the unknown set in. It was brought to my attention by my case manager that I have been in a sheltered, safe, sober environment for 5 months. A place without temptation.
What is going to happen once I am out in the real world? This was a terrifying realization for me. My case manager suggested that I investigate the possibility of checking into a halfway house once I completed my program. A halfway house? I had never heard of anything like this before. He explained to me that this is a place that people transition to out of rehab.
Halfway houses are a sober environment with a lot of the same requirements that are expected of you in rehab. He introduced me to an organization called Alcoholism & Addiction Assistance Association or 5A for short. What I found was that 5A had specific guidelines to help a newly sober addict and alcoholic get acclimated to the real world. They did not offer treatment in the traditional since of the word but did give a structure that gave me a chance to be successful in early recovery. The idea was to keep the meetings, the sponsor, the step work, but also to add in a home group and a service commitment.
I had the freedom to work and pay my fees which taught me basic responsibilities and prepared me to be on my own. 5A asked me to commit to 90 days. 90 days? 90 days to continue to grow and change my life, where do I sign up? I am not going to sit here and say it was easy, because it was not. But the structure and accountability provided by the half house helped ease some of the burden of the stresses of day to day living.
The staff was supporting and firm at the same time. I can only best describe staff’s demeanor as a velvet hammer. I cannot say for certain that I would be sober today without 5A. I have sponsored a ton of men in my sobriety, a portion of them in rehab. When I am asked, “I am done with rehab, what’s next.”
I always suggest sober living. All I have is my experience to share with these men and my experience is that 5A had a huge hand in giving me a life beyond my wildest dreams.