Sober Living 101...
Welcome to Normandy House's first blog. I hope this inspires others to write about their experiences living in a sober house and the effect it had on their journey in recovery. This blog entry is about how, from my experience, you can get the best out of your stay in a sober living residence like Normandy House, and that you can take this experience and apply it to a lifetime of well-being, health and sobriety. That's what we all want, isn't it?
Making sober living arrangements after in-patient care is a critical part of committing to a comprehensive recovery plan. A sober living residence transitions the critical time between inpatient treatment and an independent life outside treatment. Immediately facing the demands of everyday life can be overwhelming soon after exiting an inpatient treatment program. At Normandy House, residents can focus on obtaining employment or continuing their education in a more controlled setting. For those new in recovery, a structured life can be nonexistent. Sober living helps reclaim structure and routine. Normandy House offers fewer restrictions than in-patient programs, but still requires accountability from their residents by enforcing a zero tolerance policy, implementing curfews and discipline for violating community rules.
"Self-pity becomes a stumbling block when we get so narrowly focused upon our problems. We forget we are a part of a whole throng of fellow pilgrims on this path. It helps to notice others beside ourselves who are seeking courage to live their lives." - Hazelden Publishing, 1986, p. 3
Sober living offers community and fellowship, connecting individuals in recovery who are dealing with like issues and circumstances. This peer-based living scenario helps establish an ready-made support group that’s available around the clock. Since many of us have relied on family or friends to bail us out in the past, this supportive environment helps residents regain skills and confidence to function and live on their own and on lifes terms.
Sober living assists you in learning to be more self-efficient. It's a safe place where you can set new goals, in and outside of recovery, and set out to achieve them. Some of you have had successes before - before your disease got the better of you. One by one, take note of your personal successes, no matter how small, and use them to motivate you. If you need some help, ask for it, which I know is easier said than done. At Normandy you can take advantage of this built in peer support group. Don’t be bashful or ashamed… don’t hesitate to talk about what’s going on or ask for help. Remember, everyone in the house shares your objective, "You want to save your life". Your AA and NA groups, and your sponsor, can provide encouragement when times get tough and it seems that things aren’t going your way.
"Nothing impacts a still-suffering alcoholic more than hearing the language of the heart from another alcoholic in recovery." - 51st Annual Meeting of the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous, 2001
As time passes things will become clearer. Be aware, look around, check out your housemates that have more clean time than you and talk with them. Sometimes learning of the achievements in others in recovery can motivate you and make you realize that 'hey, I can do this too, I can get better and take control of my life'. Remember, a sober house has the same dynamics as any other group of individuals, age and experience differences, personalities and opinions. It's important to try and get along and put aside your differences for the greater good of the group. In a sober house you are brothers, sisters, companions and confidantes.
A great way to occupy your time in the house, and make friends, involves helping others, volunteering and serving other recovering alcoholics and addicts. Service has clear benefits, both for you and the recipient(s). Service doesn’t always have to be shown through lofty efforts, it's the little things that count. Everyday activities, such as giving a fellow housemate a ride to a meeting or asking someone how his or her day went or lending an ear, helps focus your energy on others rather than yourself. Even a simple hello and a smile, or sharing your story spreads encouragement, goodwill and helps you connect to one another.
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am just scratching the surface here, but these are important things to take into consideration. Your time at Normandy House is just part of your recovery journey. Life's still going to throw you curve balls and trials and tribulations can be around the corner at any time. The sober living experience will give you better odds in living a lifetime of sobriety. It provides you, as it has provided me, with a community of peers, support through family and friends, positive energy and positive people, and ceaseless personal growth and strength.