In a previous article from Shawn (A guest blogger), he gave his perspective on living in a sober living home. Shawn’s experiences were really good and he encourages people in early recovery from addictions to seek out this type of treatment. Shawn shows the true upside of living in a sober living home, as it really does work for a lot of people!
I had a different experience with sober living homes because the group of houses that I had found was under investigation for fraudulent and exploitative activities; which I was unaware of at the time. This scenario does happen, so this article is setting the standard for you to do your research and find a sober living house that works the best for you and gives proper treatment. Most will find the sober living home they desire through their time at a rehabilitation facilities.
I’d always lived on my own since the ages of 17-18 and was a rather privileged individual when it came to freedoms and money. But I was always boozing and drugging during my youth, too. In this regard a halfway home was a complete 180 for me as the goals were sobriety, reintegration into a society that I’d deprived myself of, and rules, rules, and more rules. These are all things that I was trying to avoid in my addiction, which led me to having a bad experience with my sober living home; not to mention the jail time the owner had received after I left.
I’d stayed in two halfway homes at two separate times in my life and the usual goal of sober living homes is to teach you how to reintegrate into society while doing daily tasks and experiences on a sober basis and living by a proper moral code. My experience was not as such. Be aware there are sober living homes that are not providing proper treatment and it’s extremely important to know which type of program is living by a good code and will give you adequate care.
No other option
When I first got clean from my last stint on heroin and alcohol I was in utter desperation of where to go. My parents wouldn’t take me back and I couldn’t go back to the trailer in the projects of Detroit where I was using if I wanted to get clean. I'd arrived back at my parent’s house in full detox and they knew something was seriously wrong because I was squirming and worming around, scratching my skin, and twitching. I was sweating while complaining I was cold... how ironic. None of it made sense to them other than something was wrong--even though they knew I had a problem--they were in disbelief that I could've relapsed.
I had complete formication (feeling of ants crawling under my skin), and was experiencing tremors, with cold sweats. I was taking hot showers and trying to massage myself, then I would cover up with blankets and sweat more while it made the cold sweats worse. Nothing was working. So I sat my parents down and said: “I’ve relapsed. How can I fix this?”
My mother crumbles to the floor, as I’ve never seen someone almost die right in front of me while she was thinking the same thing I was, “How could he have almost killed himself again?”
My parents were in a slight disbelief, but after living in a trailer in Detroit for a few months they had their suspicion. While I’d receive the random phone calls from my dad asking to come over, I’d tell him he couldn’t come inside the trailer. The sad part is that I think they knew without me actually having to tell them.
After I told them, they forced me to lift up my sleeves where there was the proof; quarter size, purple looking, puss oozing track marks from injecting heroin again. I asked my dad, “What do I do? Where do I go? Can I stay here and get better please?” We all know staying there wasn’t an option as his main concern was looking out for his wife he told me. He doesn’t call her my mother and doesn’t include me in the word family when he replies, “I don’t think that’s the best option for my family.”
“You need somewhere to stay but you can’t stay here. I will find you somewhere, and you know where that somewhere is, you’ve been there before,” he said looking at me trying not to cry while holding back yelling and sadness. I’ve never seen my father in such disbelief and sadness in my life, and it was because of me. I knew what he was talking about and where I was going as I packed the very few things I had left after pawning or losing most of my belongings. I was headed back to the halfway house I had lived in only 19 months prior on my first attempt to get clean.
I wasn’t looking forward to it as there were tons of rules, schedules, and mandatory randomized drug testing; not to forget living with 6 men to a room, and not all of them being honest about their cleanliness (drug and appearance wise). But I had no other option… I was on my way back to the halfway house. It was that or being homeless. I gave myself no other option by using. No other option.
It was 11:30pm on Christmas Eve and I’d finally made an arraignment to meet with the house manager at the ¾ house only a few miles outside of the Detroit area where my home base was. You had to walk to everything, as most of us at the center didn’t have cars. My dad wouldn’t leave me with the car so I paid him back by giving him the keys as a part of my commitment and entrance due to becoming clean again.
My father and I arrive there at the halfway house as the owner had made an exception for me because he remembered me from the last time I stayed in his house. The exception was that I wasn’t able to pee clean on a drug test yet and was still detoxing pretty bad. One of the rules was you must pee clean on a drug test before entering and not be showing too much of the signs of detoxing so the other guys you would be living with wouldn’t get triggered to use. “Seeing you here again, you’re the one that never had a set agenda aren’t ya kid?” (Rhetorical) “I see why you’re back here again,” as his god like complex shined through with a not so glorious factor.
My question was why would he take me at value that I would get clean, I don’t know? He said with a demanding tone, “I’ll give you 5 days and re-test you, if you don’t pee clean you’re homeless, ask any of the guys here, I’ve kicked a lot of them out many times.” If I didn’t pee clean then I would be completely homeless. “But where would I go?” I asked with a sad look on my face pointing out to him that I had no other option. “If you don’t follow the rules then that’s your problem kid,” he says like he’s won the lottery while my dad pulls out his wallet and writes a check for $450 ($100 weekly rate and $50 entrance fee). My dad said one thing to me that night before he left… “Merry Christmas here’s your present.”
Rules Rules Rules
The next morning I woke up—well sort of, as I hadn’t slept more than 45 minutes that night anyways—and I was immediately briefed on the rules. The last 45 minutes before it was time to wake up was when I fell asleep so I was taking mini-REM sleeps during the day, passing out in my food and during my briefing. It looked like I was still nodding off from drugs but was in a state of detox. It was a bad cycle because my body didn’t know who itself was anymore.
“WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” (Clanking) As the house manager walks in rambling a pan and stick together I jumped out of bed in a scurry. I turn over and look at my clock. It was only 6:45 AM. “First rule: Wake up curfew” the manager said. I didn’t even know you could have a curfew to wake up but this was true for this house. I was used to sleeping all day from the opiates, so when he wakes me up at 6:45AM with only 45 minutes of sleep my head felt like nails, and spikes were piercing my brain and internal organs. I couldn’t tell if my state of hate for myself was because of the detox or the situation I was in.
“Can I get another hour?” I scream. He goes, “Only on Saturdays! You better get out of bed before the owner does his house check or you might be fined or even worse, kicked out!” Hearing that I hopped out of bed quickly, banging my head on the bunk above me, “OUCH!” It was now time to be briefed on my day to day. It was Monday and there were many things to be done I was told, but Monday wasn’t the longest day of the week anymore… all of them were. I was struggling to even struggle!
I got out of bed and was told to shower immediately and that there was a 5-minute rule to conserve on the cost of water. So, I showered and went over by 40 seconds and you guessed it, I was interrupted! The house manager barges in while I’m nude in the shower and turn the water off with soap still in my hair and said, “Get out!” I was full buff and he grabs my hand giving me a towel. “Time for chores!” he said (What, are we in grade school I thought?).
Next I endured my daily cleaning task that was given to me to do every day, with a rotation of different tasks to make sure everything was taken care of. The newbie gets the worst jobs, too!
The first week people always get bathroom duty, as we are to finely scrub the floor and toilets. On top of my chores the new guy gets to pick up the slack for anyone else who forgets to do their chores, because if the owner comes in and does a white glove test and sees dirt we all must clean the entire house again while he watches and inspects with more white gloves. A white glove test is where the owner puts on a white glove, and if there’s smudges or dirt, or dark spots on any part of the house, or even behind any crevasse, we must redo all the chores on top of double duty scrubbing with intense cleaning agents this time! No one would “forget” to do his chores. For the first week I was cleaning the kitchen and the bathrooms in this three stories duplex filled with up to 20 men.
Next on the agenda was to hit my support group attendance quota. I was told the daily meeting that the house walks together to starts at 8 AM, as I had barely gotten done with everything I’d been given by 7:30!
“I haven’t eaten yet!” I screamed. The manager responds, “Why do you think there is coffee and cookies at meetings?” You’ll get used to it he said, as this was one of 11 meetings I was mandated to attend per week if I wasn't in school. Too bad I'd just dropped out of my community college for this current semester or else the meeting attendance would have been lowered to 7… HOORAY! I was also told that my intensive outpatient didn’t count as meetings but the owner was kind enough to give me one subtraction on the list for it. We had to get sheets signed by other members at the end of the meeting just to make sure we went. This immediately put a label on my forehead, “Doesn’t know why he’s here?!” The intensive outpatient program demanded meetings too but there was no number so I did my best with all the new rules I had encountered.
I was getting ready to walk out the door for the meeting and the manager says, “Where are you going?” as it seemed obvious I was going to the meeting. The house manager then points to a chart on the wall that says, “Check in—Check out” which required everyone to give places, times, and phone numbers of where we could be reached at. Underneath this chart I was looking at I saw that there was another one that said, “Work.” We were also mandated to have a job or be applying to a minimum of 5-7 places a day with proof of applications and follow up calls on the work chart. This was all of my duties informed to me by my 8 AM meeting, then after the meeting I would set out on the journey of applying for jobs, doing side jobs when I could, and attending more meetings as I needed 2 a day on most days.
As it comes time for dinner we were then expected to go to a mandatory house meeting at the main residence every Monday. The owner then proceeds to come out and tell progressions of people’s recoveries giving slight praise while he mostly talked about his own clean time, “15 years… You all will be there someday!” like he was a saint! Then when all of the houses met at this meeting, with 150 people present, the owner made the ones who relapsed explain why they relapsed and determine whether or not they would be allowed back into the house yet or not (there was a three day pee clean rule leaving most to sleep by the river close to our house). It felt like I was in the freaking survivor game show!
Monday was the day to pay also, as the owner rambled his preaching’s to us thinking he’s the savant of our recovery while tried to sell books of self-help to us, which seemed more like profiteering off of our misery than it did helping us. The other main point he makes before he concludes the meeting—as both women and men’s houses meet on this day—was that there is absolutely NO fraternizing. This didn’t seem to stop any of the guys though, as my roommate got 5 phone numbers that night (all the same one living at the same halfway house for women!). This didn’t seem to stop the owner either, who brought his wife to work most times. The owner was later arrested for having sexual relationships with women in the housing units he owned in exchange for overdue rent. It wasn’t a good situation, but not all halfway houses are like this.
Coming soon were more chores, as we must all make dinner and clean up together. The television had an automatic shut off time, as well as the Internet. But that didn’t stop me from hacking the system to get onto Facebook and show my intense detox moments to the world, complaining about my mental health and the cold sweats from my relapse on heroin and alcohol. I would broadcast my unhealthy lifestyle to the world, which was probably a main reason he didn’t want us on the Internet anyways. But, he did make us pay an extra $20 a person to use the Internet and keep it turned on, so I might as well use it! He did checks to see who was using it, too and if you didn’t pay and used it he would threaten to kick you out!
The last rule was to sleep by a certain time and that everyone who isn’t working must be in the house by 10:30 PM on weekdays and a gracious 1 AM on Saturday. We would then sleep—or try to—and repeat over, and over, and over again as the rules piled up. I thought it was all for the betterment of myself and trying to retrain me into society again. He said he was doing this to give us guidelines to live by, but all he was doing was hurting us more in an improperly run house filled with threats and demands! But, after hearing many stories of others in sober living homes, they’re not all run like this, as this one was corrupt and I couldn’t stand it for long—another couple months at most. Thankfully the police got on top of his corruption and ended his tyranny! Thank you! I was always scared of police in my addiction but they did their job this time to save mine and many people’s recovery.
Many people living in this halfway house couldn’t stand it either. There were many relapses in this house I lived in. There were many alcoholics in the sober living home that would defy the rules again and buy mouthwash (the one with alcohol in it). The people in the halfway house would drink the mouthwash, as it was easier to get drunk off of and not get caught with a bottle of booze. It was only mouthwash right?
I remember the mouthwash set a man in his 30’s off on a walk to the bar downtown, as we all walked everywhere with the lacking of cars or money! The night he came back from the bar I woke up with all of my video games and video game player pawned. He calls me and tries to explain the situation asking me to drive him to his grandmothers house on Joy and Evergreen road in Detroit, MI as this area being the heart and sole of crack-cocaine dealing. I didn’t buy it, or his story, and he didn’t buy me new games for the house or me. We never saw him again. Ever.
I can say I had a bad experience in my time living in a halfway home as the best friend I thought I earned in rehab went there just to relapse 3 weeks in and move out, then move back in, and repeat.
Not all sober living homes are like this, but luckily the police caught all of the misdoings by the owner and his corrupt running of the sober living home. He is now in jail for his extortions and fraudulent activities as he claimed he had 15 years sober but was secretly (not so secretly) still drinking behind his followers backs. The sober living home I went to is now shut down and not in operation anymore. Thank you again police for doing due diligence in this scenario!
I want to say RIP to my devoted house manager who had taken his own life. After he regained a sense of relationship with his wife who was divorcing him from alcoholism, she then had dumped him again while he began to start drinking after 4 years sober. This poor man ended up back in the halfway house he was managing, to being a lower level newcomer all over again. He couldn’t find the strength, taking a half-gallon of vodka to sleep with him on the train tracks in front of our sober living home. He lie there to go to sleep wishing all his pain go away, while we hear the screams from the train unable to stop in time. The then tenants woke up to a dismembered and broken man from the effects of alcoholism as many do metaphorically, too.
I wish things could have been different for him and he wouldn’t have fell victim to this bad situation, but at least the man responsible for running such a bad program is behind bars and this leaves room for the rest of the GREAT programs out there to take hold and help the people who need it most!
I am an addict and my clean date is Xmas 10’
sober living addiction sober living and addiction sober living drug addiction sober living for drug addiction sober living from addiction sober living from sober living sober living from drug addiction sober living from heroin addiction sober living in addiction signs of heroin addiction sober january 2015 substance abuse substance abuse help substance abuse treatment the drug addiction treating heroin addiction treatment for addiction treatment for drug abuse treatment for drug addiction treatment for herion treatment for heroin treatment for heroin addiction treatment for heroin addicts treatment for substance abuse treatment heroin treatment heroin addiction treatment of heroin Sober living Sober living Sober living Sober living treatment of heroin addiction treatment options for heroin treatments for heroin treatments for heroin addiction ways to combat drug abuse what drug addiction what is a drug addiction Sober living Sober living Sober living Sober living what is addiction sober living what is drug addiction what is heroin addiction what is sober living from addiction what is the drug addiction what to do with a drug addicted son why drug addiction