Recovery Community Review

Solo No More — The Riverbank House Recovery Community Retrospect

August 30, 2018 by Jessie Brooks-Janzen, MSW (reprint, lightly edited for format)

Live Edge FurnitureI work with Individuals and Families impacted by Addictive Behavior.   That work often entails exploring treatment options for loved ones.  Finding the right recovery community or program can be difficult and overwhelming.  There are many of questions and concerns.  Is it worth the money?  Why would I want to go there for help?  Will my loved one find recovery?  Inpatient or Outpatient?   As a result, I carve out time in my practice to visit treatment programs.  I visit both in state and out-of-state programs so I can do a preview prior to recommendation.

I recently visited Riverbank House recovery community in Laconia, NH to review their program for the Individuals and Families I work with here in Seattle, WA.  Some families might ask, why would I send my loved one so far away for help?  And in all honesty, I thought to myself – would I really recommend sending someone that far from home?

And in one word my answer is, “YES.”

Why the Riverbank House?

Recovery community promotes recovery success.

Riverbank House consists of multiple historic homes lining two sides of a gentle river.  Unlike many rehabs, this recovery community defies the stereotype of a clinical, sterile, lock down setting.  Residents fully integrate into the larger community.  Residents shared with me that a large part of their recovery is not only about learning how to stop addictive behaviors.  These men also learn how to live life again within the community by building and practicing important skills.

Social Skills

Addictive behaviors thrive best when a person is solo, with no accountability and in isolation. Regular contact with environments, friends, and family would counteract addiction. Therefore, a key support that is provided for each new resident at the Riverbank House is a mentor for their duration of stay.  The mentor is a more senior resident who is further along in their recovery.  Their job is to partner with the more junior resident.  They introduce it as the concept, “Solo, No More.”  Part of an individual’s recovery is learning how to live in community again.  When you are in a therapeutic community with accountability and mentors, addictive behaviors cannot thrive.

Life Skills

Practical life skills are challenging for individuals in active withdrawal.  Detoxing makes everyday tasks even more difficult.  Having a safe environment with others to support and encourage you is key. Residents live in homes, typically 2 roommates to a room,.  They have household responsibilities and a daily schedule to follow.  Essentially, many are learning the basics on how to live life without substances.  They retrain their brain, bodies, and emotional selves that substances are undermining their daily life.  Routine, mentoring relationships, accountability, and time help residents build these life skill muscles that have been idle, while they were in their addictive behavior.

Emotional and Mental Health

The emotional and mental health of an individual struggling with addictive behaviors must be addressed in order to achieve recovery.  An important part of the Riverbank Program is their philosophy that there are “many pathways to recovery,” which encourages residents to be open to new ways of living by participating in meditation and mindfulness, process groups, yoga, 12-Step, SMART Recovery, Relapse Prevention, etc.  Stopping the behavior is only one piece of recovery – understanding what, why, and how is the foundation that will help the individual sustain recovery.  Therefore, these varying options provide residence an opportunity to explore what are the triggers that may lead to relapse? What tools can be used to cope with urges?  Why did I engage in addictive behaviors?  How can I sustain my recovery?

Vocational and Educational Pursuits

Continuing education and finding employment is something residents also work on while at the Riverbank House when they have sustained 5 months or more sobriety.  This is another key aspect to a residents recovery, because for many they may have lost employment or stopped education, as their addictive behaviors encompassed them. There are many employment opportunities and experienced provided:  Woodworking, Construction & Landscaping, Karma Café & Art Gallery, Yoga & Fitness Instruction, etc. There is also a Lakes Region Community College minutes away for residents who would like to continue their education, while living in a sober environment.

Recovery Is Not a Sprint; It’s a Marathon

I often share with clients who are grieving the loss of a loved one that there is no timeline on grieving.  I also believe this to be true when talking about recovering from Addictive Behaviors for both the Individual and their Loved Ones.   28 days, 60 days, 90 days – Recovery is a life long commitment – it is a training program for all involved.  Old behaviors need to be replaced with new ones that strengthen Recovery.   Skills develop over time while the body, mind, and spirit heal.

And Riverbank House “places no limit on the duration of stay.”  What this means is that residents are encouraged to stay longer than the initial commitment that residents make – some say, “I’ll try it for 28 days,” most stay beyond that initial commitment of 28 days and find that the length is key to their recovery.  Effective treatment takes time, because it requires time for healing a persons whole self – mind, body, spirit.  Experts and evidence-based providers are finding that long term care and continued care promotes long term recovery.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about my experience at Riverbank House or are in need of Individual or Family Counseling.  1417 NW 54th Street #462 Seattle, WA. 98107  | 206-905-9931|

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