George Jahn, the founder of Sober Living of Delray, talks about his 22-year-old facility in South Florida, its expansive recovery campus, the comfortable surroundings and why it’s important for people in recovery to feel like they’re home after treatment.
Gina Thorne: Hello everyone, this is Gina Thorne with the Lakeview Podcast Series and I’m pleased to be joined today with George Jahn with Sober Living in Delray. Welcome, George. George Jahn: Welcome. It’s good to be here. Gina: I’m glad that you had a chance to come up and visit with us and our patients this weekend, and we’re going to take a couple minutes and learn a little bit about your program. So I learned that Sober Living in Delray has been around for about 20 years. That’s quite a long time, actually. George: Yes, actually we’ve been around for 22 years and we’re one the oldest and largest facilities in South Florida. We have a recovery campus in which we have 120 male clients and 84 female clients. It is composed of three buildings in the complex; we have volleyball courts, tennis courts, pools, Jacuzzi, weight room, basketball court, all lit at night. We want it to feel like this is your home rather than it being some house in the neighborhood that all the addicts live in. You live in the recovery community in Sober Living in Delray. Gina: And so, this is your baby, you’re the founder. So what prompted you to open up the program? George: Well, 24 years ago I got out of treatment and I was looking around for a place to continue my recovery. Luckily, my sponsor had a duplex next door to his that I moved into and that was my halfway house. There were no facilities. Halfway houses were like the Department of Correction halfway houses. I did enough to myself when I was drinking and drugging and I didn’t need to punish myself anymore now that I was sober. So I worked with a therapist, a guy named Jerry Singleton who went on to be the director of Hanley Hazelden in West Palm Beach, and Jerry had a small facility and he asked me to take it over for him because he thought I would do a good job. And we grew over the years, my wife and I, this has been our baby since Day 1, and we try to provide comfortable surroundings. Alcoholics and addicts, they can’t hide in basements anymore. We’re in recovery; we’re doing something positive for ourselves, so why hide in the corner, down the neighborhood in the ghetto? This is a beautiful community, it’s close by, Delray is a phenomenal city, it’s the only city in the state of Florida that has won the All American City Award twice. And one of the reasons why they won it, is it’s inclusive of all the populations and they are supportive of the recovery community. We work closely with the city, chamber of commerce, the city commission, the police department, code enforcement, etc. The mayor is a good friend of mine and he has no problems with anybody coming down here and getting in recovery. Gina: That’s great. We were talking offline earlier about how there’s a proliferation of really good recovery down in Delray, and that recovery has been such a great support for people coming out of treatment. I know that you know that there’s a lot of sober living in the area and for those folks that are listening, in looking at, just trying to explore, what’s the best approach in trying to find out what’s a good sober living? What kind of questions would you recommend to someone who is listening? What would you recommend for them to ask when they’re trying to vet a potential sober living for themselves or a family member? George: Well, many of the things are common sense things; how long have you been in existence? Who do you have relationships with in regards to referrals? How do you get your clients? Now, I’ll be perfectly honest with you – if they get their clients off the World Wide Web, you probably won’t want to go there because they haven’t built a relationship, they’re not part of a continuum of care. They’re just trying to grab clients any way. And what is the criteria to come in? At Sober Living, you must have 30 days clean and sober, coming bed to bed, from a treatment center, a legitimate treatment center, a well-respected treatment center, and the therapists and aftercare coordinators are on board. They’re making a recommendation in the best interest of the client, and part of that would be a continuum with Sober Living in Delray. If you’re just showing up on the doorstep, you’ve got two days clean, why would you ever want to share a room with someone who is detoxing, especially after you’ve invested your time and effort going to treatment and following the recommendations to be put in that type of environment? We believe that by working as a team with other professionals in legitimate operations, the continuum of care will be the correct continuum and it increases the success rates astronomically. Gina: Well, very wise recommendations and I know a lot of people out there get overwhelmed when they’re seeking, not just for treatment but then for aftercare so that’s going to be very helpful for our listeners. This is not your first visit to Lakeview, you were here a while ago I believe. Just curious, in light of the changes that we’ve gone through over the last couple of years, what are your thoughts and impressions of the program? George: Well, Lakeview and Stepping Stone has actually picked up the game substantially. You can see the outward appearances with regard to the development of the properties, the new facilities that are being added on, it’s really been an upgrade and it has been to the benefit of the clients. The staff, the organization has also been upgraded. New people coming on board, the list of credentials that people have and the long term experience in the field is critical. There are many new people coming into this field on a daily basis, but you cannot underestimate the experience of working with the alcoholic and the addict. It’s that special compassion, it’s the knowledge, it’s the experience that you have that’s going to relate to success rates for your clients and that’s what I like about Lakeview. Gina: Yeah we appreciate your comments on that and we are very excited about working with Sober Living in Delray. For those that are listening, if they wanted to learn more about your program and accessing your services, how can they get in touch with you? George: Well they can go ahead and take a look at our website it’s www.soberlivingindelray.com and the website, I’ll be honest with you, does not maximize hits. I designed it myself, I took all the pictures myself, I’m a retired math professor, but it gives you a good feeling of what our property looks like and what the area is like. If you or a family member are currently in treatment, our preference is to contact us through the professionals at that treatment center. They understand, they know your history, they can make the most appropriate recommendation with us, and if Sober Living is part of that recommendation, we’ll go out of our way to help you in any way that we can. Gina: Well that’s wonderful, thank you George, I appreciate your time today. For those of you that are interested in learning more about Lakeview, we invite you to visit us at LakeviewHealth.com or contact us at [Direct].