Chico West takes some time to sit down with Gina Thorne to discuss his male-specific sober living community in Dallas, Texas, and how he came to start Gaston House.
Gina Thorne: Hi everyone, this is Gina Thorne, and welcome to the Lakeview Podcast Series. I’m really excited to be joined today by Chico West from Gaston House, and you’re located where? Chico West: We’re in Dallas, Texas. Gina: Dallas, Texas. So it’s great to have you here, Chico. Thanks for joining us. Chico: Well thank you, Gina, so much! Gina: So tell me a little about yourself. What got you into the field of addiction treatment? Chico: What got me in the field is I’m a recovered alcoholic/drug addict. I’ve been sober for 25 years now. Gina: Oh really? I didn’t know that. Wow. Chico: So I got sober at 21 and I went to primary treatment and then on to halfway houses, which is what they called them back then. Gina: Ok, and so you opened Gaston House when? Chico: 10 years ago last month. Gina: Ok, and so tell me about that origin. How did that start? Chico: I got my master’s in counseling; I’m an LPC supervisor, and I saw the need, I was referring a lot of people on to treatment and then on to structured sober living or extended care. I was seeing a lot of people come back to the Dallas area, living in Oxford houses and stuff, and having places that didn’t have much structure. When I got married in ’95, in ’96-’97, my dream was to open a real structured sober living or transitional house and I sat on that dream for a long time. Gina: A little scary taking that leap of faith, huh? Chico: It was. And it wasn’t until my wife in ’03 said, “Hey, I believe in you. Let’s do it!” Gina: Good! And so tell me a little bit about Gaston House. It was specifically males for a long time? Chico: It was, and it still is specifically males. We have a women’s house that’s called Windhaven and Windhaven is still going around and doing well, but Gaston House is a specific male program for guys coming out of a primary treatment, like Lakeview. And what they do is from the tools they learn at a place like Lakeview, or other treatment centers, they start to apply that in real-world. So we are about accountability, giving them life skills, getting these men to use those tools on a daily basis. Gina: Which is so important because what you often hear about people who relapse is that they don’t have those basic life skills. It’s typically those early stressors in early recovery that trip them up, so it’s great to have that support system in place. That’s great. So your program is built around the 12-step model, correct? So you also have a very active 12-step community where you are? Chico: Oh yeah. So how we’re set up is we really get these young men, up to 30 or a little older, to get involved with a sponsor, to work the steps the way they’re written in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. We use Alcoholics Anonymous, we also, in Dallas, we have DAA, Drug Addicts Anonymous, CA, Cocaine Anonymous, and Heroin Anonymous as well. So they use the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous; we believe in that book and that structure. But we also provide structure every morning; getting up and taking care of what you need to take care of, you know, with chores and picking up your room, and the community at large. Gina: That’s wonderful. And so Lakeview has started a partnership with Gaston House and so I know you had a chance to come and visit us last weekend when we were doing our dedication. What’s your experience with Lakeview? Chico: My experience is the facilities are incredible, but more than facilities, being a professional that has referred people to a bunch of different programs over the years and doing interventions in the past, what I really took away from Lakeview was the community of staff and how the staff is really dedicated to the sick and hurting individual. Gina: Thank you, we appreciate that. I think the other thing that we like about our partnership, and we talked about this earlier, is that there’s such a strong ethics aspect to what you do and we really maintain that same type of ethics and obviously that’s really important when you’re looking for good aftercare and support, so thank you for your feedback on that. So for those that are listening today, if they needed to get in touch with you or someone at Gaston House, how could they reach you? Chico: A couple different ways. They can call the office at 214-902-9881, or you can call my cellphone, 214-384-7459. Also, our emails are real easy. You can email me or my business partner Robert, Chico@GastonHouse.com or Robert@GastonHouse.com. Gina: And is there a website if people wanted to learn more about your program? Chico: Yes, the website is GastonHouse.com. Gina: Ok, great. Well thanks for taking the time to meet with us today. I’m really excited to share your story and for those of you that are interested in learning more about Lakeview, we invite you to visit us at LakeviewHealth.com or you can call us at 866-460-8416.