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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sobriety can be a daily act of will.

Summer in a Sober House helps some people deal with the temptations of holidaying at the beach.  Summer has a time-honored tradition of weekend debauchery....  and the drinking ends only when the vacationers hop a train back home — with a hangover that stretches to nearly midweek.

Sober houses where recovering alcoholics surf by day at the beach and then hold their Alcoholics Anonymous meetings  by night are becoming popular...

“A critically important component of recovery for people is a sense of community, not isolation," said Robert J. Lindsey, president and chief executive of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

More than five years ago, D. said, some recovering addicts established their own share houses in the oceanside town, where card games have replaced drinking games and where there are evening A.A. meetings rather than a cocktail hour.

“The feeling of being on the beach is the feeling that we have about sobriety all the time,” a 29-year-old nurse from Manhattan said, adding that they were “free from the pain of active addiction, free from the prison that we lived in before.”   To her, a beach house seemed a natural fit for recovering addicts. 

Activities like Scrabble and barbecues as well as the ritual of a nightcap of ice cream at John's Drive-In in town are paramount, D. said. So, too, are dance parties on the deck at their house and neighboring sober share houses. “Sober people love to dance,” he said. “You’re not dumbing down all night with drugs and alcohol so you’ve got to do something.”

“The reality is that there are triggers for relapse everywhere people go,” says Mr. Lindsey, of the drug and alcoholism council. “The one difference here is that they are going geographically to a place where there is at that point in the summer a tremendous amount of parties going on. What they do though here in a sober house is create their own community of support to stay sober and have fun.... their housemates help them get past situations that threaten their sobriety.

Even with the backbone of the fellowship that a sober share house provides, sobriety can be a daily act of will. 
For some, that’s buttressed by daily A.A. meetings... where there can be almost 100 participants at 6 p.m. on summer weekends.  For many, a summer in a sober share house is an act of reclaiming a life they believed their addiction made them forfeit.

Summer in a Sober House: Avoiding the Undertow of Temptation