Mike and Glenn
We think we can do better
Updated: Jan 14
In a story that repeats itself over and over, even today, our friend Steve stood at the intersection of his old life and new life. Eager and willing to change, he found himself alone with more questions than answers; not knowing where to turn, Steve found himself with nowhere to go. He had, in fact, lost everything, finding himself destitute and homeless. As laid out to him by his newly found counselor, his only option was a local halfway house.
This temporary move of Steve’s caused a permanent directional change in his life.
This week’s blog considers transitional living, encompassing residential treatment facilities, halfway houses, and sober houses. However, we will focus on sober living, concentrating on one, in particular, RCOSA – the Recovering Communities of Step Ahead – based near Chicago, Illinois. The feature is a natural choice as the organization’s founder, Steve (mentioned above), visited Mike and Glenn at the sober.coffee shop on November 9. 2022.
This is not intended to be a promotional piece for RCOSA but a celebration of the principles on which it operates. Successful execution of these principles has netted impressive statistical accomplishments for RCOSA, which touts thousands of alum with average stay times nearing a year. So, what follows are the standards desired which should be the baseline standards for anybody on the road to recovery:
Appreciation of Community
Alcoholism is a disease of isolation. Even the apparent social alcoholic ultimately isolates themselves toward the realm of loneliness and despair. There are, of course, exceptions, but this seems to be the general rule. Accepting that seclusion is part of the problem, then community could be part of the solution. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) realized the importance of community and prominently positioned it in its most- important 12-step process. As a matter of fact, nowhere in the published 12-steps do the terms “I,” “me,” “mine,” or “myself” appear – Conversely, the terms “we,” “our,” “ourselves,” and “us“ appear a total of 19 times. This is why AA is referred to as a “we” program.
Connectivity with those that share our desire to live a sober life is essential to success, as there is most-definitely strength in numbers.
It is everybody's responsibility in AA to love the newcomer until they can find a way to love themselves. As Steve pointed out in our conversation, there are enough barriers to recovery. Love trumps obstacles. In most cases, love needs time to play out and prove itself. At this point, proper recovery does not magically happen at 28 days (the standard time covered by insurance companies for inpatient services). Trust takes time to build. Authenticity evolves and builds into respect. We must be patient yet relentless in our pursuit to give and receive love.
As Steve stood at the crossroads of his life, as referenced earlier, he thought his best option was to return to his old life. He was counseled of the dangers that lay there and had to decide to move forward with the halfway house where he would be held to account for his actions. Undoubtedly, the old way was the softer, easier way, but Steve opted for an environment of accountability, structure, and guardrails.
In recovery, accountability means we are doing pulse checks on each other. We disclose situations and seek advice in any scenario that might affect our sobriety. We need this in personal recovery, and it is essential in group environments where one's individual actions could affect others’ results. Recovery is for people who want it - people willing to go to any lengths to get it. People who live this mantra are the exact people one needs to magnate to. Fair, firm, and honest feedback are critical to a successful program.
If we want to improve our golf game, we will go to an experienced, preferably professional, golfer for lessons. We wouldn’t go to some hack or somebody who learned about golf in a book. We would go to an experienced pro. Executing the tips the Pro gives us is more important than taking the lesson. In looking for a sober living environment that would work for you, follow the same practice you would while seeking a personal sponsor – seek somebody who will guide you to the successes they have experienced.
This is not anti-AA, as actually, the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous references professional help, and we highly recommend this as part of any recovery program. There is no shortage of feelings and emotions, history and trauma, and chemical and situational stresses that demand professional handling. Likewise, there is no shortage of professionals available to help us. We have to ask – and be honest. Don't we owe ourselves to give it our all to get the relief that has eluded us for so long? Just as this is an important element in personal recovery, we see it as a big plus if you invest time in a sober living facility. In either scenario, pursue a safe place where you can be vulnerable and talk about the issues that most affect your sobriety.
As we wrap up, we thank Steve for spending time at the coffee shop with us and sharing on principles that are vital to recovery. We also thank him for his “willingness to serve” in providing the RCOSA services for over 30 years. Steve knew that he could do better. People believed in him until he could believe in himself, which has changed many lives. We love how he credits his” gift” and has chosen to serve unselfishly. His high standards are obvious and, we hope, contagious.
Ideas and thoughts for this blog post were taken and built upon from sober.coffeee podcast Episode #85 Titled: “Steve G - Returns - Exploring Sober Living & Introducing RCOSA The podcast dropped on 11/9/2022 Click here to hear the podcast
Click here for more information about RCOSA
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions do not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be thought of as a substitute for the advice of healthcare professionals. The author's advice and viewpoints are their own.