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Sober Living Minnesota
ST. PAUL, MN
Tim Murray is the Executive Director of Trinity Sober Homes of St. Paul, MN. Tim has a great deal of experience in the sober living community on both sides of the coin. He was a resident for 3 years and went on to become the head of a sober living organization.
Kyle: Tim, can you help those suffering from addiction and their families better understand what "sober living" means?
Tim: Most people leave a treatment facility and make a decision to live a life free of drugs and alcohol but to do this they have to change to new places and new faces and that is difficult. When I was at treatment I had a counselor say, "Tim, your profile looks like a typical profile of people we see in here. The good news is you don't have to ever take drugs or drink alcohol again and you only have to change one thing..." I bit hard on that. I leaned forward and the counselor looked at me and then whispered, "Everything." Sober living created the opportunity for me to do that. I had to change the way I thought about myself. I had to change the way I interacted with others. I had to change my priorities, how I spend my time, the types of people I spend time around, how I spent my money, how I viewed myself in relationship to others and that's pretty close to everything.
Kyle: Let's say I'm in treatment right now or I'm at the end of my treatment stay. Why would I want to consider moving into a sober home instead of moving back home and getting on with my life?
Tim: I think it's a very common question. My first run in sobriety was like, "Hey, I'm a really important person. I can't possibly take 30 days out of my life and if I do take 30 days out of my life I can't possibly take care all of things I need to take care of and go live some place else and do all these meetings that I'm supposed to be doing." What I found was that I had to get to the point where sobriety became my number one priority. Living in a sober living community is one of the ways in which I can be around other men who share a common problem.
Most people can relate to the idea that one of the best times that most of us have had is when we had been either with a group of friends or with our family and you just simply were yourself. You were your authentic self. You laugh, you cried. People loved you for who you were. You were able to look at yourself with your limitations and you didn't have to put on a show. You didn't have to pretend. That's the dynamic that you get when you move into a sober house.
Kyle: Folks out there might not be familiar with the concept to sober houses. One of the things I hear a lot is isn't it like a halfway house?
Tim: Sober housing is nothing more than an environment where there's a house and typically between 6 and 15 men or women getting together to recover from active addiction in an environment of love and acceptance. There's a common bond. There's a common goal and we have a common affliction. Most sober houses are independent living and direct pay and charge anywhere between $800-1500 a month per resident. Sometimes, you have a roommate. Sometimes, you have your own room. Residents typically live there anywhere between six months to as many as three years.
Each person has to determine how long do they need but it's been my experience that most people leave sober housing sooner than they probably should have and when relapse has occurred the first thing people will say is, "Well, I was in the sober house for six months. I'm staying at least a year this time." or "I was in there a year. I'm gonna stay at least two this time." Rarely have I ever heard somebody say, "Oh, I stayed in sober housing way too long. I should have moved out 12 months before that." I just don't hear that. I do think that that's probably the best description of a sober house.
Kyle: If I live in a sober house what's the typical day going to be like?
Tim: A typical day would be that I wake up sober and start my day as if I was living at home or anywhere else. I will do my morning hygiene, eat or a cup of coffee and out the door. I go to a job or if I'm not employed I go look for a job. Most sober housings require people to work and there are jobs that are plentifully available. My ego prevented me from getting a job right away but my sponsor pointed it out by saying, "Tim, are you capable of saying, 'Would you like fries with that?'"
Typically, someone in the house will say, "Hey, I'm cooking dinner tonight." It's a lot easier to cook for two or three than for one as many people know. Sometimes people will cook or everyone will just throw in a couple of bucks and order take-out dinner. Often times men will go to AA meetings and often times there's fellowship in the house.
Kyle: Is there anything that I have not touched on you'd like to talk about?
Tim: Well, I would like to issue a statement of hope. Most people gave up on me. Some of you out there probably have somebody in your life that looks hopeless or maybe you feel like you're never going to get this. The reality is it will happen. The reason I know that is because it happened to me. I've seen it happen to hundreds of other men and it has happened to millions to people around the world. My greatest hope is that somebody reading this will say, "You know what? I'm willing to give this one more try." or a family or a loved one says, "There is still hope. Don't give up."