Transitional Living At Its Finest: A Firsthand Look Behind the White Picket Fences of the Sanctuary

By Vance D.

If you are reading this, odds are you or a loved one are contemplating whether or not to follow-up a stay at a treatment facility with residency in a sober living environment. You are likely also trying to determine which of those options might best suit you or your loved one. As someone who elected to pursue a sober living residency option subsequent to a twenty-eight (28) day stay at an inpatient treatment facility, I humbly offer the following observations, insights and experiences.

Two weeks into my inpatient treatment stay, my counselor there advised that, based upon his consultations with my therapist back home, my family doctor and myself, everyone was of the opinion that it was in my best interests to reside in a “halfway house” for ninety (90) days, to commence immediately upon departing the treatment facility. My initial response was resistance. I had only ever agreed to a twenty-eight (28) day treatment regimen; now these jokers want to tack another three (3) months on this stretch of time? “Uh-uh”, I said. “Not gonna do it.”

My recalcitrance was a classic example of contempt prior to investigation. I had only ever seen the inside of one halfway house – it resembled a really bad college dorm cum army barracks. The denizens were folks who were court-ordered and/or had no interest in being there. Based upon this sliver of knowledge, I was very resistant to the idea being pitched.

I was assured by my treatment counselor that the halfway house they had in mind, was unlike any other I could conceive. I was unmoved. Days later, during a group therapy session, it came to light that I was disturbed by all this halfway house talk. Fortunately, this particular group was populated by people whose intellect approached (but did not exceed) my own and whose opinions I did not dismiss entirely. These peers all concurred that I would be an utter dipshit if I were to pursue any of my other post-treatment residency options, which were: (a) returning to my own home (formerly known as Shangri-La) to live, which I never seriously considered based upon its reputation as a den of iniquity; (2) staying with my parents who could monitor my early recovery. Since option (a) had already been eliminated, my plan was to go with (2).

My dear peers in group therapy ably exposed the fallacy and inevitable failure of going to live with my parents following treatment. They reckoned I would quicky grow to resent their well-intentioned meddling in my affairs while they would almost as quickly grow to resent having to police their adult son. Enlightened by this knowledge, I was open to finding out about this proposed halfway house.

After advising my parents of this halfway house recommendation, they decided to inspect the proposed facility themselves. Upon returning from their tour of the Sanctuary, my mother remarked that it wasn’t like any halfway house she’d ever seen or heard of. My father observed that it was so nice he wouldn’t mind living there, which is really saying something, as he only does first-class accommodations. Armed with this ground-level reconnaissance, I agreed to a ninety (90) day stay at the Sanctuary. My intention was to stay for only one (1) month.

As of this writing, I am entering my fourth (4) month here. Why have I decided to stay for longer than my intended thirty (30) days and even beyond ninety (90) days? The reasons are many, but the most important one is the fact that living here at this point in my recovery assures me the best chance of maintaining by sobriety and continuing forward in my recovery.

Another compelling reason is that the location, Delray Beach, FL, is considered the recovery capital of the world. I challenge anybody to find more meetings and more people serious about and committed to their programs of recovery anyplace else. Also, the Sanctuary is about a mile from the ocean – a day at the beach is within walking or biking distance.

The people I’ve met here at the Sanctuary have made it difficult for me to want to leave! I can say that, with but a few forgivable exceptions, I have universally enjoyed my interactions with my peers. I have made many friendships that have and will continue to aid my recovery. The staff are knowledgeable, well-trained and compassionate. They do an excellent job of running this facility, which offers more structure and a wider array of amenities than probably any other halfway houses.

If you’re the shallow type and the foregoing is not enough to convince you that the Sanctuary offers the finest in transitional living, consider the accommodations. The houses are excellently and expertly maintained. They have modern kitchens. They are sumptuously appointed and tastefully decorated. A great emphasis is placed on keeping things tidy, which suits me fine as I am a neat freak. The point is, it is a damn comfortable place to reside and one gets to feel right at home pretty quickly. To refer to the Sanctuary as a “halfway house” is something of a slur – in totality of the circumstances, it is too nice to be described as anything less than the Cadillac of transitional living environments.

In closing, I am reminded of the words of Samuel Clemens*, who said, “In treatment, one is but an infant; in post-treatment early recovery, one finally learns to walk”. My experience has been that the Sanctuary is the perfect place to learn to walk, as it provides sure supports to prevent a fall.
*Not the Mark Twain Samuel Clemens but this dude I met in recovery who is generally right about most everything – the only time I have ever seen him incorrect was when he was supplied misinformation which in turn caused him to be incorrect, albeit briefly. He quickly deduced he had been supplied this misinformation and took immediate steps to rectify the situation so that he was no longer incorrect – in fact, he did such a great job of correcting the mistake that it turned out better than if he had never made the “mistake” in the first place (and again, I must emphasize that the “mistake” was never his fault to begin with). So yeah, Samuel Clemens (not the author of Tom Sawyer but the dude I referenced above) is right about everything.


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