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

People move into the Clean & Sober Transitional Living community because they want to learn how to stay sober. And while our residents sincerely seek to build a resilient recovery, sometimes relapse can rear its ugly head. Typically, those relapses occur during the first three to six months of occupancy.

Looking at the newcomers in our community, it’s impossible to figure out who is going to relapse – or not. While the spirit may be willing, not everybody is going to embrace the resources we offer here. Different people have different ways of approaching their sobriety, and not everyone is going to want to change and grow. Instead - like water - people tend to take the path of least resistance. For some, that means marching towards the bright light of recovery, one day and one step at a time. For others, that means following the seductive siren song of alcohol or drugs.

Early in the game, we often see a false confidence about recovery. After being sober for about three months, people may believe they’ve nailed that pesky addiction thing and can have a drink with their buddies….what’s the harm in that? While they don’t expect to be pulled down into the quicksand like before, they generally discover that they’re picking up where they left off or worse, as they return to substance use disorder at warp speed. Their belief that they can now handle a single beer proves to be false, and they’ll find a new bottom very quickly. And that’s often when those fatal overdoses occur: people don’t realize that their tolerance diminished during their sobriety, and the dose that used to work is now a deadly high.

I speak about relapse from experience. When I first got sober, I road my bike to work because I had lost my driver’s license. On my way home from work, I often stopped by a bar to shoot pool and shoot the breeze with my buddies. One day, I decided that I was going to have a drink – just one. What’s the harm in that? By the time I rode my bike home, that single drink had drilled deeply into my brain, and the seeds of my destructive relapse had been planted.

At the end of the day, building a sober life takes time. After one year in the CSTL community, people are well on their way to a resilient recovery. People have learned to tap into our supportive community, and they’ve built “recovery muscle” while learning how to navigate life without alcohol or drugs. Statistics bear that out: Our Phase 2 recovery rate is about 95%, and relapse is rare. Recovery is a precious thing, and we build it strong at CSTL.

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