Why Sober Living?

california structured sober living

Why Sober Living?

I’ve often heard individuals in the recovery community say something along the lines of “once you’re ready to get sober, you’ll do it in a cardboard box if you have to.”  Why then have sober living homes become such a popular destination for people in search of sobriety?  

My quest for sobriety began well before I actually wanted to get sober, but I didn’t know it at the time.  I got my first “nudge from the judge” as an 18 year old when I was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession and underage possession of alcohol.  I was a freshman in college and doing well in other areas of my life, but the courts did mandate that I participate in 12 weeks of outpatient therapy.  My parents didn’t see this minor setback as a particularly alarming event, and I completed the required course without much difficulty. Yet, this experience didn’t deter me from proceeding further along the path I had set myself upon.  

The continuation of this lifestyle was more of a slow burn than a quick descent, though that time allowed me to become firmly entrenched in a community that I would have otherwise avoided.  I grew up listening to my grandmother say “show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.”  I never really gave her the opportunity to meet the friends I kept as my disease progressed, because they would certainly expose me as the derelict I was becoming.

Eventually, knowing I had fully succumbed to my addiction, the despair was great enough that I began to seek help.  I went to my first 12 step meeting at the behest of a loving girlfriend.  I attended 90 meetings in 90 days.  I got a sponsor.  I began to work some steps, but I still didn’t fully remove myself from the environment I had created over the many years my addiction spanned.  It didn’t take long before I had fallen back into my old ways, and this stumble became the quick descent I had avoided for so long.  

The desire to seek something more out olife was still there, though, and I began to look beyond the typical rehab facilities and short term programs that are a last resort for many.  I knew that I needed to completely remove myself from the toxic situation I had been living in and find a healthy environment that would allow me to slowly build the tools necessary for a life without drugs and alcohol.  I reached out to a friend who once found himself living in a tent on skid row.  He had completed a year long program at the Last House Sober Living in Los Angeles, and had found the lust for life the drugs had taken from him.  

I asked him why it worked, and he quickly replied that one of the most important aspects of recovery for him was being able to live amongst a supportive group of peers who were experiencing the same ups and downs of life that he was.  These other young men were able to help him navigate the trials and tribulations life threw his way.  They were able to love him before he could love himself.  They were there to congratulate him along each of the sobriety milestones he reached.  Eventually, he explained, that he became the one who was able to extend his love to other young men who came to the house seeking something more out of life.  

I was sold, and embarked upon this same journey myself.  I can speak from experience that the reward of finding one’s self is fantastic, but the gift of helping another do the same is absolutely priceless. 

-written by The Last House alumni John M. 

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