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Structured Sober Living enhances Positive Client Outcomes in Addiction Treatment

The mission of Surfside Structured Sober Living is to provide men in early recovery with a safe, highly structured living space where they can start a new chapter of their lives.   The founder and CEO of Surfside Structured Sober Living, Ian Koch, has spent well over a decade clean, sober, and working in the mental health field (check out his brief bio on the “About Me” page of our website!). In creating a multi-phase program with measurable goals for each resident, Surfside Structured Sober Living asked a handful of questions that are not only important for treatment providers and sober living facilities, but critical for families of addicts as well. For example, what is the purpose of addiction treatment, rehab and structured sober living? What types of staff are working at the structured sober living? Are the clients truly the number one priority?  Is the family able to participate in recovery?  Is there more that can be done to set the program apart from the rest that are offered?

When a client is in addiction treatment — whether it’s Inpatient, IOP, or PHP — positive outcomes can increase if the client understands why the counselor is there.  New staff in the recovery field are often naïve and believe they will cure/fix all the alcoholics and addicts coming in the door.  This is simply not the case.  The counselor, just like Mom and Dad and Grandma and the girlfriend, will never have the power to fix the addict.  But the counselor does have the power to give excellent guidance, unbiased advice and objective feedback to early recovering addicts.  Much of addiction treatment is not treatment, but information.  Treatment or rehabilitation is the internal process of healing the mind, body and spirit.  This can be done through deep and effective therapy.  Another way to accomplish this feat is through the 12-step process with a sponsor.  When taking a look at the measurable goals we set for each phase of the process at Surfside Structured Sober Living, note that completion of the twelve steps is included, as well as a plethora of other goals.

Clients who sit in meetings all day every day are not reaping the benefits of therapy.  While group therapy can be immensely effective and often plays a critical role in addiction treatment settings, it also has some downfalls.  For example, it’s easy for a client to place himself on the outskirts of the group and never participate, which means he or she will never experience the group’s full benefits.  Above all, it is crucial to understand that going to meetings with a 12-step focus or heavy discussion of the steps is not “working the steps.”  It is imperative that providers do not mislead clients into thinking they have worked the steps.  Ian often hears people say they did the steps yesterday during group or at a meeting — it just doesn’t work that way.

One of the most wonderful things a typical residential treatment program can do is provide the clients with information.  Explaining their illness, explaining the course of action necessary for recovery, and providing realistic expectations of what needs to happen for them to achieve long-term sobriety.  Residential treatment gets clients off the street, out of their current environment, and puts them somewhere different.  This is a fantastic place for them to rest and let the brain clear for a period of time.

At Surfside Structured Sober Living, we focus on the family.  When selecting a treatment center, ensuring that the client is the number one priority means they are actively including the family in recovery.  We know for a fact that addiction destroys families, which means recovery needs to encompass more than just the addict.  When a resident moves to Surfside Structured Sober Living, our programming includes regular contact with the family.  One of the biggest deceptions in addiction treatment is that the family cannot do anything to assist the addict, but they are expected the be their financial resource.  If the family is paying (which means they are ultimately seeking peace of mind), then it’s important for them to be involved for more than just a four-hour visit, one weekend per month.  Families should be prepared to ask questions about their role in treatment.  When treatment ends or the addict has completed the program at his structured sober living, the family will still be the family and they’ll still be around.  They are the ones that need the most support so they can learn how to support the addict without enabling.

When building the program for Surfside Structured Sober Living, Ian frequently asked himself how he could enhance the family support.  While Surfside does not provide treatment, it does provide a structured environment where a person learns critical life-development skills through 12-step immersion, adventure-based activities and other unique programming.  He listened to criticisms of other unstructured sober living options that have minimal interaction with the family — which means sometimes, families don’t know their loved one was kicked out of the house until he overdoses on the street a few weeks later.  It became abundantly clear that Surfside Structured Sober Living was going to emphasize the role of the family.  What if we provide weekly support to the family?  What if the same people who build that relationship are able to follow up with the family three, six and nine months after the addict completes our program, and again at the one year mark?  By enhancing family support, the information they’ve learned from a highly credentialed staff will have time to set in, versus going in one ear and out the other during an emotionally overwhelming weekend visit. We serve the whole family, not just the addict.

To find out more about Surfside Structured Sober Living and how it can maximize client outcomes, please call us today at 609-709-4203 or visit us on the web at