photo: from O.C. Weekly – Jeff Drew

Why OC Must Lose the ‘War’ On Sober-Living Homes – OC Weekly
Read full article here written by: Matt Coker

As a mother of a drug addict who’s watched her son go in and out of Sober Living homes over the past 2 years here in Orange County, this article certainly hit home.

There are sober living homes stretched throughout this county, I’ve been in them, not as an addict, but as a parent of the addict.  I’ve been in the rooms that my son lived in, that he shared with others.  I’ve heard the stories of the addicts who lived there and the hope that they have to return to a “normal” sober life.  Sober living homes are key to recovery.  It allows addict to return to society for however long it takes.   Granted, some of the homes aren’t in the best areas, others have been in nice areas, the lawn is well kept, inside is clean with strict rules that are enforced as long as the tenant lives there. From the outside, you’d never know it was a sober-living home.

Over the past year, I’ve been following the stories here on OC Weekly about Solid Landings and the 33 home closures in Costa Mesa.  My son was a tenant in a few of those homes.   These are the last hope for some, the alternative is homelessness, being on streets, full circle to where they just were, high.  Stealing cars, sleeping on benches, doing drugs on playground jungle gyms, or jail.

Those streets are those same neighborhoods that communities are fighting so hard “to take back”.   Drug deals are still happening on the corners of your treelined avenues, in your community parks, your children or your neighbors children are falling prey to this disease of addiction, where will they go to get treatment?

There’s a WAR ON DRUGS, red ribbons on the fence of our local elementary schools, but can there really be a WAR ON TREATMENT? We train our children to Say No To Drugs, but when they fall into the addiction, where do they go after all options are exhausted, what is the alternative?

I’ve mentioned on many occasion that addiction is everywhere, addicts are your neighbors, addicts are your friends, your parents and your children, they are living amongst us in every town no matter how wealthy or how poor the neighborhood. Addiction does not discriminate, but people certainly do.

“Taite finds it ironic that homes where addicts are getting sober are the focus of regulation in the first place when, in many of the exact same neighborhoods there are people in non-sober-living houses being much bigger nuisances.”

“You can go into all these communities and find shooting galleries and crack houses and all types of illegal drug activity going on, and instead of cracking down on those types of behavior, which is inherently unsafe to the community, they are making the solution, treatment, the focus of a problem,” he says. “That really is outrageous to me. It’s the polar opposite of how we should be behaving as Californians. It’s not a very evolved or mindful approach to this problem.”.”

What is the right approach to this problem?  I’d say that it starts with mindset, it begins with an understanding of what addiction really is, that it’s a disease and should be treated as such.

I live in an “upper “scale North Orange County community, I know there are sober-living homes just down the street from me.  I know that someone’s son, daughter, mother, father or friend is in that home and my hope is for them to stay on their road to recovery, that this is a gateway to a better life, a sober life.  I’m grateful for these sober-living homes and hope that they’ll be able to survive against yet one more challenge in their battle of addiction which is discrimination against their recovery.  The last paragraph in this article scares the living hell out of me.

“Man, this story bums me out. But there is something I can do about it. Despite the shakes, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, blackouts, depression, blotchy skin, forgetfulness, mood swings, chronic diarrhea, extra amperage that will be required to get an addict off and the other drivers on the road, I can go somewhere right now that will make me feel a whole lot better.

Don’t worry, Orange County, it’s definitely not a sober-living home.”