Sober Living Homes in New Hampshire are springing up everywhere.

This is truly needed and will help many. But what about oversight? Currently, in New Hampshire, there is no oversight committee in place. This is changing, but what is happening now to protect this vulnerable section of the population from homes that are not doing this for the right reasons? Well not much. Sober living homes can open without warning. They can be packed way past capacity. Drug use can become prevalent if there aren’t strong testing and rules in place.

Now, this doesn’t happen all the time. More often than not, the New Hampshire sober living homes are well-intentioned and care about the individuals that reside there.

Ryan Gagne of Live Free Structured Sober Living speaking on sober living in New Hampshire

Recently Ryan Gagne of Live Free Structured Sober Living had the opportunity to be interviewed by WMUR to speak on how on the difference between Live Free Structured Living homes and others. Our own Ryan Gagne was quick to point out that you should visit the sober home you are looking to move into before you do. While you are at that sober house ask the hard questions about drug use and what the program does to help the individual other than just provide a bed. Look at the cleanliness of the home and try to even talk to a client.

Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan mentioned the volume of homes popping up and most have questionable conditions, large monthly/weekly fees with little to no oversight. Sober living in New Hampshire means something, it means that the owner has an obligation to create an environment that DOES NOT resemble active addiction in any way. It should only be supportive of addiction recovery along with its practices and rules.

Dan Goonan of Manchester, NH fire department

Dan Goonan of Manchester, NH fire department

Our program at Live Free Structured Living in Keene, NH has six 2 bedroom units where 4 guys share a fully furnished apartment. These apartments are equipped with kitchen and bathroom. The sober living facility also has an on-site laundry room, group spaces, and staff offices. Live Free Structured Sober Living provides drug tests at least 2 times randomly per week with more when suspicions arise. The staff meets with guests of the program, help guests get employed right away, have in house recovery meetings, and have community dinners, even have activities that are done by local providers or go out into the community. It’s important to have an actual program of recovery in place that helps individuals move through stages of progression both in life and their recoveries from SUD. Not to mention our physical locations are top notch in quality. This is to show the guests that you can raise the bar for yourselves. Live Free Structured Sober Living has tried to create the best sober living program in New Hampshire. We feel that we have done that.

Andrew West of The New Hampshire Coalition of Recovery Residences

Andrew West of The New Hampshire Coalition of Recovery Residences

We look forward to when The New Hampshire Coalition of Recovery Residences or NHCORR begins its certification process. This will surely bring some stability to a much-needed area of SUD Treatment.

Sober living homes in New Hampshire should have standards and should have accountability to prevent some of the bad experiences that have taken place in the last few years in Manchester and around the state of New Hampshire.

 

3000 years ago mantras began being composed in Vedic Sanskrit in India.

Mantras now exist in many various schools of teaching. These include Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Sikhism.

A mantra (Sanskrit: मन्त्र, translator. mantra, English pronunciation /ˈmæntrə, ˈmɑːn-, ˈmʌn-/)[2] is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers.[3][4] A mantra may or may not have a syntactic structure or literal meaning.[3][5]

Sitting in lotus pose preparing for his first mantra

Sitting in lotus pose preparing for their first mantra

In it’s most basic form, the word or sound ॐ (Aum, Om) serves as a mantra. There are then melodic and mathematically structured sections of vocalized sounds. The more advanced mantras have melodic phases that contain spiritual practices, interpretations, and principles. These spiritual principles of truth, reality, light, immortality, peace, love, knowledge, and positive action are chanted in a method of bringing this to the individual or group. Although some mantras are just meant to be uplifting with no meaning behind them

RAJESHWARI GRETCHEN CARMEL of the Yoga Space visited Live Free Structured Sober Living in Keene to teach the men at the facility the benefits of mantras and how they apply to their lives. Spending a wonderful hour of training with friends they were able to gain important enlightenment into the world of mantras.

Gretchen holds a vision of compassion, healing, and peace for our planet. She brings to her teaching a high level of commitment, love for her students and infuses her classes, workshops, and retreats with the joy of mantra.

Sitting in lotus pose preparing for his first mantra

The men of Live Free Sober Living enjoying the group

At Live Free Structured Sober Living we feel it is important for our clients to immerse themselves and be exposed to as many life-saving practices as possible in their journey of recovery. With yoga, mantra training, sound bath meditations, hiking, camping, and much more. Live Free Structured Sober Living provides a wide variety of experiential modalities that open the mind as well as the spirit. This, in turn, gives the guest at Live Free Structured Sober Living the best chances of achieving long-lasting sobriety and a joy-filled life of peace.

In addition to Gretchen’s teachings at The Yoga Space, she shares her wisdom with workshops and retreats annually at Bethel Farm Yoga & Living Arts Center, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. as well as other yoga studios/festivals/retreat centers. She is the founder/director/senior facilitator of the 200-Hour, Yoga Alliance Certified, Mantra Teacher Training & Study Immersion offered in Keene, NH, and Blue Spirit Costa Rica.

 

I remember choosing the best pediatrician for my children when they were young.  

Later, when it was time for high school Justin wanted to explore the opportunity to attend private school.  We toured the schools, went on interviews and he was accepted to several, making his final choice at an amazing school in northwest CT.  I told him then that there would always be a place at his home school but he should go and give it all he could – it was such an opportunity.  We were just regular, middle-class people – well, maybe not so regular. We were a family living with active addiction in our home – very much affected by SUD – yet Justin already had the seeds planted – that somehow he knew he wanted a life of freedom from the disease and as his mom, I wanted the world for him.  

In those high school years, I would see the signs of SUD or also known as Substance Use Disorder.  I reached out for help. I stood in the truth and hit many a brick wall of resistance.  I kept reaching. Kept hitting walls. The college began and it was evident that we were dealing with the disease and I found myself once again seeking the best for my child.  

Lynn and Justin | Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH

A grateful mother that has her son back. Lynn Kelley.

Treatment, sober living, the pleading phone calls back to treatment. The cycle had begun.  What was wrong? Why wasn’t this working? He isn’t ready – He has to want it – Let him hit bottom.  Oh my, the things people were telling me. But as his mother, I just knew that something had to be different.  Ultimately it was me that was different for a long time. I met him where he was at. I worked on my recovery in Family Recovery for a few more years.  The disease was progressing in Justin hundreds of miles away from where he had returned to college in Washington DC until the day came that the pleading call came from Justin’s roommates to come now.  He knew that the words – I love you –

Will you come home and get well? – meant hope, that he could once again have the chance to live free. Little did we know at that moment just how true it would be.

The last words Justin said to me before walking into detox were “ I am NOT going back to NH”.  He had been there 3 ½ years prior – his first time in sober living, lasting 9 days.

Two weeks later I got a call,

“Mom, you are not going to believe this – I am going back to NH! To a place called LIVE FREE STRUCTURED SOBER LIVING  – it is a structured sober living program and it is a minimum of 3 months.”

Ryan had taken Justin’s call and accepted him.  Their paths had crossed when Justin was in NH before and Ryan heard something different in Justin now- Justin was no longer that boy that had been in NH before – both Ryan and Justin were willing to take the chance on each other.  The journey from getting well to Living Free had begun.

Everything about our experience was different from that first phone call on.  There was no paid transport to NH to prevent Justin from “manipulating me into not going” because the program only took men who wanted to be there.  So we piled into the car an off to NH we went. It was a true family road trip – with Justin’s younger brother in tow. This would be the first of many.  As our family became part of the Live Free community I would go back to NH often bringing a friend with me and the men who became like brothers to Justin would join us for whatever our outings were, catching up like family.  

When I look back at the time Justin was at Live Free, I think about where I was in my own recovery and a conversation that Ryan had with me that first day.  He pointedly asked me – “Lynn, How are you taking care of you and what are you doing for your own recovery?” I knew that there was an understanding on some level that for my son to heal, to really get well we all had to continue to do the work.  I had been in recovery from the effects of AUD/SUD for many years at this point – Ryan was the first person in a non-clinical setting to ask me about it. We were a family in recovery and Live Free not only supported that, but it was also a critical element to the work being done.  There is continued evidence that when families participate in the recovery of the entire family, the person with Substance Use Disorder and those affected have the best outcomes.

The non-negotiable that had been established when Justin entered into treatment was transparency.  The disease of addiction isolates, lies, robs families of trust and connection.

Freedom for these chains and the opportunity to rebuild that was a critical part of the work our family did while Justin was at Live Free.  It was no different than when his roommate called me. We were building new relationships, with a new foundation, with new tools and a lot of support.  

As we navigated life in early recovery – the fears of living life on life’s terms – going back to DC for trips to see what it would be like, the old relationships, coming home for holidays, music festivals, tough family situations, good times and not so good times and ultimately Justin’s decision to leave NH and go back to Washington DC – to LIVE his Life Freely – which is what he was promised he could do “if he did the work”  – we never did any of this alone. Our family did this with the LIve Free community – with Ryan, Mark, the men of Live Free, the families of those men who we met along the way.

In the 3 years since Justin has left Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH, I have continued to be a part of the network that this community has created.  I have invited Ryan to speak for me at Family Recovery events in CT. I have never once reached out and not gotten a reply for a family in need or just to say hello.  My son, Justin, is in long-term recovery. He graduated from American University and lives in Washington DC. Our family is a Family in Recovery Today. Each member knowing that there is so much more to this journey of recovery than to simply put down the drink or the drug – but to really have a life worth living you need to do so much more.  I am forever grateful to the men of Live Free for showing Justin what was possible, for giving more than the tools he needed for recovery but the belief that he could Live life in recovery. It is my privilege to be the mother of a young man in recovery from SUD – he shows me every day what it means to live a life of honesty, integrity, hard work, love and dignity.  

On March 23rd, Live Free Structured Sober Living has its grand opening celebration.

Many people came out for the opening of Live Free’s 2nd Sober Living location in New Hampshire. Addiction treatment providers, recovery supports, and supportive recovery ally’s were all in attendance. Guests enjoyed a delicious menu provided by Pit Stop Smoke House while they networked with one another and learned what resources were available for people from all over the state. People were able to understand the different services in drug and alcohol treatment that are available outside the immediate area.

Mayor of Keene, NH at Live Free Structured Sober Living Grand Opening

Mayor of Keene, NH at Live Free Structured Sober Living Grand Opening

We were also joined by Mayor of Keene Kendall W. Lane. Mayor Kendall came and shared his views on the work that Live Free Structured Sober Living is doing “Recovery supports like Live Free Structured Sober Living are vitally important to the community of Keene and surrounding communities. I personally know how difficult it can be to help people navigate the lacking services for people with SUD”.

Keith Thibault from Southwestern Community Services stopped in and shared about the partnership between Southwestern and Live Free Structured Sober Living came to be. He also mentioned that one of the deciding factors for choosing to lease the building to Live Free was the need for sober living in Keene, NH. That one of the biggest gaps in the treatment continuum was sober living.

Ryan Gagne was thrilled by the outpouring of support and contribution that everyone brought. Ryan said “I am truly grateful for everyone that showed up and have been supporting from afar. The goal was to bring awareness of resources from all over New England to the people of this community. I have been lucky enough to work with amazing people over the years and having providers come and contribute made my day. To provide highly structured sober living at a very affordable cost was the goal and we have done just that.”

Ryan Gagne and the Men of Live Free Structured Sober Living in Keene, NH

Ryan Gagne and the Men of Live Free Structured Sober Living in Keene, NH

The sober living program boasts a very low cost at $187.00 per week, especially when looking at the services. 1 paid live-in staff person whose job is to provide recovery guidance to the guests of the program, assistance with gaining employment, drug testing, on-site meetings, 6 2 bedroom fully furnished apartments that 4 people share, on-site laundry services, 2 live in house managers. The program that Live Free Structured Sober Living in New Hampshire has developed is extremely well thought out and designed to help new guest gain momentum in their personal recoveries quickly.

What’s next for Live Free Structured Sober Living in New Hampshire?

Well, In just 3 short months the program has reached maximum occupancy. A new men’s program will be established in Manchester by June. There are also talks of creating a women’s Sober Living program in both Keene, NH, and Manchester, NH. We look to have a men’s step down house in Keene and the other programs opened and receiving guests within the year. All of your continued support is deeply appreciated and we look forward to continuing our relationships and forging new ones.

 

The men at Live Free Structured Sober Living will be gearing up for sober camping and hiking trip with our favorite Recovery support Thrive Outdoors in June 2019 to the White Mountain National Forest. They will participate in hiking, camping, and swimming at Welton Falls. Time will also be spent at a yurt on the side of Mt. Cardigan. The alumni and current residents of Live Free Structured Sober Living, and 12 step volunteers from the recovery community are welcome. Live Free Structured Sober Living will belay for all food of guests, we will just need an exact headcount.Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH Camping trip 2019

Thrive Outdoors will be attending while connecting survival skills and addiction recovery. Together, Live Free Structured Sober Living and Thrive Outdoors will be leading hiking trips up Mt Cardigan. During this time the group will enjoy team building activities. This hike also will show that, yes, you can have fun in sobriety and that doing hard things have rewards that pay off in so many ways.Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH Camping trip 2019

Sober living is an important and vital step for someone in their recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. This step allows someone to build a solid foundation that takes many of the theory’s that individuals learned in their stays at inpatient treatment and put them into action. Creating strong bonds with people with the same goals and struggles while adapting to life is crucial.

Often, most sober livings don’t take it further. Not here at Live Free Structured Sober Living, we like to get out and see all that life has to offer. After all, there are many amazing experiences to be had right here in New Hampshire. People sharing in fellowship and achieving things like completing a hike or having dinner by a fire connect deeper with one another than when we are distracted by phones and social media.

Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH Camping trip 2019The White Mountain National Forest is a beautiful range to hike. There are many trails to explore and enjoy. While on this hike the men of Live Free Sober Living will engage in many things that will help them grow and maintain sobriety and life free from addiction. When hiking outdoors, it has proven to be a great way to relieve anxiety and to reconnect with one’s sense of self.

More often than not people think that getting sober will be the end of all fun. This is the farthest from the truth. At Live Free Structured Sober Living we provide life skills training and incredible group adventures to show you that being free from drugs and alcohol can be the best life you ever imagined. Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH Camping trip 2019When you join our tribe, we want to push you to be your best. If you want what we have and would like to learn more than be sure to contact us today. We are excited to hear from you and look forward to chatting.

 

Alcoholism is still the largest problem in the State of New Hampshire, it actually contributes to more people addicted than all substances combined.

Many people focus much of their conversation towards the opioid epidemic but at Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH, we still see steady numbers of garden variety alcoholics that prefer to drink alcohol rather than use illicit drugs.

Detox from alcohol is still one of the only substances that could be fatal if folks are not careful. Individuals should seek medical care for their withdrawals from alcohol. Detox from benzodiazepines can also be fatal. Individuals seeking detox from them should also seek medical care just like those withdrawing from alcohol. Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawals can lead to seizures and other life-threatening symptoms including delirium tremens.

According to a national study on drug use and health from 2014 to 2015. New Hampshire had some of the highest rates of substance abuse by youth and young adults in the country. Back in 2014-15, another study conducted in New Hampshire found that we had some of the highest rates of addiction amongst young people in the country. Abuse and misuse of alcohol was also found to kill more than other substances as well.

New Hampshire also typically ranks top 5 amongst the highest in the country for binge drinking states.

We do have our fair share of colleges that are known for partying as well as academics. New Hampshire also makes tremendous revenue from the sale of alcohol. New Hampshire is one of the few states that surround us that sells alcohol on Sunday. We also make it easy to buy alcohol from out of state by providing liquor stores right on the highway. Getting your weekend alcohol is as easy as jumping on the highway and it is even tax-free.

Live Free Structured Sober Living has found is that a structured environment is even more important to individuals recovering from alcoholism than ever.

Alcohol is prevalent in almost all environments, so to offer an environment that is alcohol and substance-free is crucial to those in early recovery. Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH allows for guests to get a solid foundation in their recoveries enabling to more easily handle these natural environments that have alcohol in them. The promise is that if the individual does the work in recovery and continues to that he can go anywhere as free man alcohol or substance free. They will no longer need to shield themselves from alcohol, this is the REAL GIFT of Recovery.

When it comes to recovery for drug addiction and alcoholism

little can be accomplished without helping people get connected to a strong community. At Live Free Structured Sober Living homes in NH, one of our main goals is to create a strong community focused on recovery from addiction. We aim to provide a feeling of unity for people that normally feel disconnected from most of the world.

Creating that environment is not always easy but it is definitely worth it. A community requires a psychological connection – an understanding that they, coming together, are a part of something bigger than themselves. More than technology and surface level interactions, we can create a sense of community.

It’s the most rewarding, positive, and powerful thing we can do. To watch the positive impact that a strong community has on a new man just entering the Live Free Structured Sober Living program. Words just won’t do it justice. The new man fresh in recovery feels little hope is scared and does not know what to do. The sober living community knows this. They remember this was them at one point and then set out to help them.

We take groups of people and then build a strong sense of community amongst them. Giving one another accountability. This allows them to point out where they see you slipping up in your life and allow you to do the same to them. Having this in place helps a man or women grow. Steel sharpens Steel.

All the benefits that are derived from a community atmosphere, are derived from the created sense of being a part of something bigger than just yourself. If you can get the people you’re focusing on helping to feel a sense of community. Gaining that bond with one another, then you’re rewarded with a healthy group of people. that are otherwise usually unmatched because of the amount of growth they experience with each other. They go through tough times as well as learn to have fun with one another for the first time. Many sober living programs in NH will not focus on the cultivation of a strong community, but rather let the client just pay rent and take drug tests.

Better still, a strong sense of community makes everything else easier.

It’s easier to attract members, convert newcomers to regulars, sustain high levels of retention and participation. It’s easier for people to succeed in their recoveries from addiction because they feel so connected and supported.

We are all human beings, we are all connected, with addiction there is no possible connection.
-Tony D

Another strong aspect of creating community is doing fun activities together. Creating times to play and have fun are some things that people remember most because for many It is the first time they are having fun in their recovery.


Our guys went our bowling together. Looks like they made up some fun names for each other.

When you create a strong sense of community, amazing things will happen.

When we’re talking about a community, we’re talking about the sense of community felt amongst individuals. This is what a community is. It’s that psychological feeling of being a part of something unique (and special). We need to talk more about it and engage with activities designed to increase this sense of community.

If you ever think to yourself

“the landscape for substance abuse and drug and alcohol treatment couldn’t get any more difficult to navigate”,

I would suggest you wait a day or two and read the paper or watch the news. CNN reported on a story titled “Purdue Pharma sought secret plan to become ‘end-to-end pain provider,’ lawsuit alleges”.

The suit that was brought against the company says the company and its owners, the Sackler family, whose name adorns some of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the country, engaged in over decade of deception to push their pharmaceuticals, namely the painkiller OxyContin, on doctors and patients, publicly denying what internal documents show they privately knew to be true. The documents show an actual sales funnel. Starting with the wide top to capture pain patients, turning them into addicts, and funneling them down selling them the drugs to treat the addicted group. Drugs like Narcan, which is meant to reverse an Opioid-related overdose and even sell their version of the popular Opioid treatment, Buprenorphine.

It’s sad to say that nothing shocks me anymore, but things still do sting.

This article stung on a whole new level. We’re all aware now about the fact that Purdue Pharmaceuticals knew exactly how addictive their pain killer drugs were. Now the details of the new suit in the article suggest that it was purposely pushed in order to capitalize financially on them abusing the medications until an addiction was formed. Then Purdue would also be providing the drugs to help treat the addiction they helped create. It was a deliberate marketing campaign to target a vulnerable population and purposely put their welfare and well being out of the equation.

I find the saddest part of this new suit is the number of lives lost to those who struggled with drug addiction as a result of the actions this huge institution has taken.

Not to mention the amount of immense suffering that people have experienced from the addiction to their products. A life of active drug addiction is one that is full of extreme pain. Not only do the people directly afflicted with addiction suffer but all people around them do as well. The parents, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters have all been swept up in the unbelievable wake of suffering. How could a massive company be allowed to do this? We try and convict people for far less. Maybe a better question is why, why would a company do this? Well, the obvious and short answer is money. Purdue paid the 4 billion dollars to the Sackler family in profits.

We hope that after the dust settles that the individuals, families, and communities that have been gravely damaged by the actions are finally held accountable for their unjustifiable actions. Money is never a good excuse to put peoples lives in jeopardy.

We’ve all heard the quote

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

That is because wishing harm on others does nothing to them, it only hurts you. You walk around with the negativity and an underlying ill feeling produced by the resentment. Usually, the other person isn’t even thinking of you at all…and that stings.

Resentment is a huge topic for people early in recovery from addiction,

and also folks that have been in recovery for a long period of time. It’s important I believe for all people to live a life free from resentment, although this is a difficult task to achieve. A great thing for the folks here at Live Free Structured Sober Living, is that they are encouraged to look at their resentment in a way so they may be free. A way to end the piling up of negative feelings. Think how just one resentment makes you feel in a physical sense, then do the math of all the unresolved resentments that you still hold onto. No wonder there are reasons why people drink and use drugs, they need to blot out the constant negative feeling they experience and give their heads a rest. If the person is newly sober and does not have tools to handle the resentment machine located between the ears then they are at risk of relapse.

How the 12 steps help with resentment

One tool is to utilize the 12 steps, more specifically the 4th step. We would not suggest you skip 1-3 and only do 4 but to locate someone who has worked all 12 and continues to show you how. This is an activity where you take all your resentment that you have built up inside and put it on paper. You then locate what the root of the resentment is and look to see where you can take ownership. This may seem like a self-defeating exercise that allows people to dump on you, but it’s not. It’s actually very freeing to be able to take ownership since you have no power to change others, but do have the power to change yourself. You also look at unreal expectations, dishonest thinking, and fear-based assumptions. The act of writing, admiring, and reading out loud is extremely freeing. This is an excellent tool for someone in or out drug and alcohol treatment, or in sober living.

Meditation as a tool for resentment

Another tool is to meditate regularly. There is one meditation in particular that focuses on increasing a persons love and kindness. This is where you focus on building love for people in a way that it’s easy to. Like the love for a puppy, parents, best friends, friends, neutral people then ending with people you have difficulty with. This allows you to build a calm fire of love to surround and melt resentment. Like fire, you start with stuff that catches fire easily, then start adding bigger and bigger fuel till you have a blazing fire. Once the fire is raging you can even put wet, difficult logs on the fire and they burn easily too. The meditation is similar. You walk through the 5 stages starting with an easy person to love and ending in stage 5 with someone you find difficult. You can feel the resentment you have possibly harbored for so long, leave over time. Adding this to your daily routine while here in sober living or at home will greatly enhance one’s recovery from addiction.

Prayer as a tool for resentment

Prayer is an excellent tool to be free of resentment as well. If one is open and willing to pray for someone they are at odds with, that person can experience a great deal of relief from the resentment. If they pray for that person to happy, healthy, and free from negativity then they themselves may feel that way. This is wonderful for folks in early addiction recovery since they can do it anywhere and at any time. Being in drug and alcohol treatment or sober living can be difficult and you may find yourself doing this regularly, that’s ok it’s a great habit to exercise and grow. There is plenty of research that shows doing this and meditation activates the frontal lobe of the brain like no other activity. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls important cognitive skills in humans, such as emotional expression, problem-solving, memory, language, judgment, and sexual behaviors. It is, in essence, the “control panel” of our personality and our ability to communicate. Just more reasons to perform these activities daily for your early recovery.

What can I do now?

Little things can go a long way. Start your day by making your bed and then saying a small prayer. Ask whatever you believe in, even if that is yourself, to guide you and protect you today. Pray for others wellbeing and how to be of service to them. Next, spend a few small minutes sitting quietly and meditating. Put on a guided meditation if you would like or just concentrate on your breath. Below are a few links to different types of meditations. These seemingly small acts have huge impacts on your emotional and physical wellbeing. Practice daily and you will begin to notice your outlook and mindset beginning to change for the better. Others may notice it before even you.

Guided Meditation