By Don Troutman, Founder, Clean & Sober Transitional Living
A common expression in the recovery community is “The only thing you need to change in recovery is every thing.” That’s true: getting and staying sober calls for new ways of thinking, new responses to old triggers, new friends who don’t drink or use drugs, families that function in new, healthy ways, and more. That’s a tall order. But there’s one essential element that underpins all of those necessary changes, and that’s integrity.
For the record, the dictionary defines “integrity” as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” I’m astonished that so many people don’t seem to know what integrity means because integrity is the cornerstone of all civilized behavior, including recovery.
So what does integrity look like in an environment that is intentionally designed to support recovery?
• It looks like starting every day with our 9:00 AM meditation, where we set our intentions for health, personal growth and integrity.
• It looks like authentic peer-to-peer conversation over meals, where residents can share both struggles and support.
• It looks like inviting the community to our Sunday evening spaghetti dinners.
• It looks like honest and open disclosures about personal progress at our residents-only Sunday night meetings.
• It looks like residents modeling - through word and deed - how to navigate life’s twists and turns without alcohol or other drugs.
Treatment, recovery and sober living (which I like to call “intentional living”) have changed dramatically over the years. When I went to residential treatment almost thirty years ago, the residents were locked out of the treatment house right after breakfast and couldn’t return until dinnertime. Of course, the drug dealer and the local bar were always open for business, so that daily eviction opened the door to a lot of relapse. Fast-forward to today, where we understand how community offers the possibility of long-term recovery, as long as people put their personal integrity into play.