structured sober living

Structured Sober Living

My name is Matt Fidlow, and I am from Chicago, IL. I had a great family with two loving parents. The first time going through treatment, I was 22 years old and just wanted to earn some trust with my parents. I had no plans to quit. However, I did go there, hoping I could learn to manage my use. Anyone who has struggled with addiction knows that this is not possible. The second time in treatment, I had come to an understanding that I was an addict, and I needed to make a change. This began a pattern of completing a 30-45 day residential treatment only to relapse in less than two weeks. Every time I left a program, I would make promises to my mom but still relapse. What was wrong with me? 

Well, it turns out when you’re using from 16 years old through your young adult years, you miss a few things. I had no life skills what so ever and created a lot of wreckage. Every time I attempted sobriety, these problems I had created piled up and became astonishingly difficult to solve, and with no life skills, I didn’t have a chance. I eventually landed myself in a treatment program in Santa Monica, California. This program, like the others, helped me build a foundation, but upon completion, they did something entirely different. They coached my mom on how to hold the proper boundaries to give me a nudge in the right direction. Previous treatment programs would let me choose the aftercare plan. The problem was that I was making the decision with a sick mind. This was the worst thing that could happen! I was making a decision based on what I wanted and not what I needed. This time the treatment team and my mother gave me one option, and if I chose not to accept the help, I was on my own. At the time, I was not happy, but looking back on it, I am eternally grateful for everyone that was involved in that decision. I ended up going to a highly structured program called The Last House. 

Through this process, I struggled. After all, I was replacing behaviors, ideas, and codes that I have survived and lived by my whole life! I remember calling my mom and telling her how awful the program was. Like everything else in my life, I looked for the easy way out. My mom held a boundary, and this forced me to walk through these uncomfortable situations. I had been to treatment so many times that I knew what to do just had to do it. The problem was that determination to make changes would fade over time. But this structured transitional program was different. When that drive would fade, I had peers in the house that wouldn’t let that happen. You see, at this program, we were our brother’s keeper. That brotherhood would not let me fail. I learned those essential life skills that I had been missing. The basics like showing up on time, doing chores, holding others accountable, and the best one of all how to hold myself accountable. I didn’t understand why I did a lot of the things I did while I was in the program, but that didn’t matter because after I did them, I still reaped the benefits. It wasn’t that the other programs didn’t teach me some of these things, but 30 – 45 days is not nearly long enough to combat the ideas that I had lived my whole life. The Last House was a year-long program.  Basically, the program forced me to take positive actions, ultimately building my self-esteem over time, and set them in stone for life.   

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