So THAT'S how it works! Here's what science says about recovery housing

Thoughts from Don Troutman, Founder, Clean & Sober Transitional Living

If you know someone who struggles with alcohol or drugs (and who doesn’t?), you probably wonder why they don’t just stop their excessive drug or alcohol consumption. “Why don’t they just STOP drinking?” is a common question – or plea – among family members whose loved ones are floundering. And if their loved ones get sober, the next question may well be “Why can’t they STAY sober?”

This puzzling question is answered by research that shows that social networks are critical to building a life of sustained recovery. It’s not enough to simply have a sober environment; it’s critical to offer a structure that helps build recovery “backbone.” At CSTL, that looks like four required 12-step meetings a week. It looks like rent-paying residents who participate in house chores and attend house meetings. It looks like recovery role models sitting side-by-side with new residents at our communal meals. And it looks like an invitation to live in our community “for as long as it takes,” as long as our code of conduct is respected.

Our “social model approach” also empowers residents by offering leadership positions and forums where they can have input into decision-making. We run our community “by the people and for the people.” And our resident elected Resident Congress runs it well. That, too, is an important ingredient in the social model mix.

None of this is by accident. I’ve been fine-tuning CSTL’s “secret sauce” for recovery housing since I first opened the door in 1989. I was CSTL’s first guinea pig as I created a place where I could solidify the skills that let me leave alcohol behind and build a path of robust recovery. Bit by bit, I’ve added the structure and support that help others follow in my footsteps.

Over 6500 residents with great recovery “track records” are proof positive that we’re doing things right. The lack of a stable, abstinent environment can be a serious impediment to sustained recovery, and the presence of a stable recovery community is a gift to individuals, families and neighborhoods. CSTL is proud to be part of that gift that keeps on giving.


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