Tag Archive: sobriety

Sober Living, the Journey continues….

It’s extremely common for those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression to become over reliant on medication or even alcohol and drugs. Many of us grow up in abusive family environments and learn to cope in different ways. An alcoholic parent can wreak havoc on the psychological development of their children. These families typically are involved in a day to day struggle in coping with the alcoholic and in most cases abusive parent. There is not time or money or even consideration for therapy. In most cases these families are oblivious to their plight, the parents so caught up in their own drama that they are ignorant of the damage being done to their children. These kids will learn their own coping mechanisms and a large number of them will grow up becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol themselves in a misguided attempt at suppressing their own painful emotions. For the lucky few that manage to seek help or find their way to a rehabilitation center, this is only the first step. A rehabilitation center can provide a person with shelter from the harmful environment from which they came, and ensure that they are drug and alcohol free whilst in the center, but once that person leaves, the maintenance of their recovery is in their on hands and they need to rely on the tools they were given whilst being treated for their addiction.

I recently treated a patient who had returned from South Africa where they had spent time in a treatment center for drug addiction and then moved on to stay in a sober living house in Cape Town for a further three months. For the purpose of confidentiality I will merely refer to him as “Ben”. Ben grew up in a a middle class family that appeared to the outside world as a happy one. In reality, this was not the case. Ben’s parents fought continuously and Ben’s father was an undiagnosed alcoholic. He grew up in an environment where he had to walk on egg shells most of the time, and often recalls hiding under his bed or in a cupboard with his siblings whilst his parents screamed and shouted at each other. In some cases the verbal abuse progressed to physical abuse. Ben grew up to become extremely codependent and sought out a partner that he could “look after”. Typical of most codependent relationships, it was a tumultuous one. A continuous push/pull, love/hate cycle of fighting and making up with a gradual build up of resentment.When Ben discovered his girlfriend of five years was cheating on him, he fell back on what he knew best – escape. Ben escaped by quickly developing a drinking habit that was complimented by the use of tranquilizers to “numb the pain”. This went on for two years until eventually Ben’s life was in ruins, fired by his employer for being under the influence, and financially ruined, Ben finally realized he needed help and went to a rehabilitation center in South Africa where he gained great insights into his condition and learned how his childhood had shaped his him, how he suppressed his emotions and self medicated himself. On leaving the rehabilitation center, Ben chose to spend three months at the Scotswood Retreat, a sober living house in Cape Town. Ben explained how it was here that his recovery really began and how he learned to live on his own, manage his feelings responsibly and not act out on old triggers. A sober home or sober living house is essentially a safe environment where people who are in recovery can stay for a period of time until they are ready to go out into the world on their own again. Whilst living at Scotswood, Ben developed strong and healthy relationships with other recovering addicts and managed to find himself part time employment working as a waiter at a nearby local coffee shop. Besides a tranquil sober living environment, Scotswood Retreat offers its guests access to counselling and lifting to nearby 12 Step meetings. Ben believes that without spending the three months at Scotswood before returning home, he most likely would have relapsed on drinking and tranquilizers.

“It was there  that I truly learned to stand on my own two feet and utilize the tools I had been given while in rehab. Living in a safe and comfortable environment, shared by like minded people that I could relate to, gave me a firm foundation on which to build and I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to have spent those three months at the Scotswood sober house in Cape Town.”

Ben is not alone. There are thousand of young adults like Ben, that without the proper counseling and treatment will go on to perpetuate the cycle of abuse that stems from addiction.


Sustained Sobriety in Tranquil Cape Retreat

Ixande drug rehabilitation centre in Cape Town has recently opened its Sober Living House in Cape Town. A sober house is a safe and secure environment that provides people leaving rehabilitation centres the opportunity to solidify and reinforce the new behaviours they have learned whilst being there. Addictions come in many forms, but all of them are progressive and fueled by compulsive behavior. Every year thousands of people worldwide are admitted in to drug rehabilitation centres, clinics and treatment centres for a variety of addictive behaviors, ranging from sex addiction, drug addiction to online gaming addiction.

So often people leave the safety of the rehab or clinic where they have been, full of optimism and equipped with some new tools for coping with the stressors and factors that led to them become addicts, only to relapse and fall back into their old patterns of addiction shortly after leaving. There are several opinions on why this may happen. Some say that the person had not yet hit their rock bottom and was not serious about abstaining from their drug of choice, or gambling or alcohol, or whatever their problem may have been. There are many however, that feel that the 28-day detox/rehabilitation programme (which is covered by many medical aid plans) offered is simply not enough to change years of learned addictive behavior. For example, if you have been an alcoholic for 15 years and you are admitted willingly into a drug rehabilitation centre like Ixande rehab Cape Town, and you engage to best of your ability and have a strong desire to quit drinking, is 28 days really enough to fortify you and give you the strength to remain abstinent? The problem lies not only in that 28 days is insufficient time to build a strong enough foundation for recovery and get to the bottom of the symptoms of the disease, but also, that whilst in a drug rehabilitation centre or clinic, the environment is extremely safe and controlled. The patients are completely insulated from people, places and things that may remind them of or trigger memories of the blissful euphoric escape experienced through using their drug of choice. During the standard 28-day drug rehabilitation period, patients are virtually completely sheltered from anything that might distract them from the treatment. Mobile phones, laptops, social media etc are all confiscated and in some cases limited usage for 30 minutes weekly is permitted. So, yes, these patients manage to detox, they manage to get some insight into how destructive their behaviours have been and they are given tools on how to manage their addiction. But this is all taking place in the safety of the treatment centre.

All it takes is for somebody who has just recently left treatment, to return to a toxic relationship, have an argument and without giving it any thought, is triggered to pick up a drink, use their drug of choice or gamble, or succumb to whatever addictive behaviour it was that they were trying to manage. The concept of the sober living house was conceived of when people began to realize the need for a sober and transitional space that allows for a person to bridge the gap between the complete safety and insulation of primary care in a drug rehabilitation centre and the life they lead prior to being admitted for treatment. In most cases, sober houses provide a communal living environment for like-minded people who are committed to maintaining their sobriety. Ixande’s sober living house in situated nearby the vibrant Muizenberg beachfront. The sober house can accommodate a maximum of twelve people and comes with free Wi-Fi, DsTV, a live in house manager, comfortably furnished rooms and 24hr video surveillance. Research has proven that time spent living in a peer based sober house maximizes the chances of an addict’s recovery. Additional therapy support is provided by Ixande in Kenilworth in the form of two aftercare sessions per week. These sessions are held on a Tuesday and a Thursday and are each 3 hours long. In addition to this there are several 12 Step meeting in the area in close proximity to the sober house. For meetings that are not within easy access, lifting arrangements can be made.