The very beginning of The Big Book’s third edition makes a bold assertion that describes the path from addiction to recovery: “Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.”
For many of us, hope was never something we considered while addicted. To be hopeful was to expect better days, and to look for more to come even in a situation that seemed grim. No– we merely survived during our addiction. We went through the motions of living, but the only thing that was functioning properly was our physical body, and even that showed signs of deterioration. Our mind and our soul were both gone, taken hostage by a substance that we’d thought was our savior.
Somehow, however, we managed to say that we needed help, and with the guidance of family members, friends, loved ones, and professionals, we got that help from an addiction treatment center. We learned how to look deep inside of ourselves to identify flaws, triggers, and imbalances that may have led us to use substances in the first place. We learned to forgive ourselves for the actions we could not control during our addiction, and how to make things right with the ones we’d hurt. We learned to free ourselves from addiction, and to love ourselves again.
Here at The Last House, we’re here to help you restore the hope that addiction took away. While treatment provides us with the knowledge and practices to defeat addiction, it’s sober living that gives us the confidence that we can return to the real world and be even better than we were before. As men, there are certain things that we’re expected to do in this life, certain responsibilities that we’re expected to take care of. Sober living teaches us how to dive right back into life and handle those responsibilities with poise and tact, without the fear of returning to substances or vices. It teaches us some of the last lessons we must learn in order to be truly free– not just from addiction, but from the doubt that we may not be able to stay on the right track post-treatment.
What does sober living teach me?
Sober living is the first step in taking control of your life after treatment, and, as such, the lessons you learn in a sober living community will no doubt be of high importance. It may surprise you, however, to learn that the sober living spin on “teaching” is less about telling you what not to do, and much more about helping you expand your independence and hone your own decision-making skills. “Lessons” are traded for experiences, and “classmates” are your community brothers. At The Last House and most other sober living communities, we work to help you turn the person you already are into a better version of yourself that will be ready to take on anything life throws at you. In a way, if you had to categorize the sober living experience as “teaching,” then it would be fitting to say that sober living teaches you how to be a better version of, well, you!
So, where’s the whole “doubt” concept fit into all this?
If we pause and think for a second, we can probably all remember a time during our addiction where we doubted whether treatment was worth it. We may have taken a hard look at our lives up until that point, and decided that treatment would be pointless, and that we were better off ignoring our situation, or attempting to fix it ourselves. Of course, we didn’t know then what we know now about addiction: that, as The Big Book says, fighting it is all but impossible without the help of others (so we can’t be too hard on ourselves) but, regardless, we can probably all remember how much doubt and helplessness prevented us from reaching out for help sooner.
These behaviors are learned. Through no fault of our own, our addiction takes our mind and body hostage and forces us to do things, think things, and crave things that we would have never done otherwise. Through treatment, we learn to get to the root of these causes and beat that addiction, but it’s via sober living that we hone the skills we need to stop doubt and helplessness from creeping back in even after our treatment.
At The Last House, we train ourselves to beat doubt and those feelings of helplessness by focusing on building our independence and a strong sense of community. Everything we do in our sober living community hinges on our being accountable to our brothers. Even something as simple as being late to dinner invokes a consequence. The goal is that by training ourselves to be responsible for the sake of others, we will learn to be responsible despite of ourselves. After all, it’s a lot harder to doubt what we can do when we’ve practiced doing it for others. As The Big Book says, learning to take responsibility for others is the spirit of successful recovery.
Through our sober living community, we learn how to use experiences and community to become even better versions of ourselves. In so doing, we eliminate feelings of doubt and hopelessness, replacing them with hope for and confidence in our ability to excel in the future. There’s no magic going on here, and everything we learn is already inside of us. Sober living just helps us realize it!
The Last House is a men’s sober living facility in West Los Angeles. Our talented staff and carefully cultivated approach to sober living helps us churn out amazingly talented, self-aware gentleman, primed to make a difference in their communities. Call us at
1-866-677-0090 to start your plan today!