Individuals in early recovery from substance use disorders can be said to be undisciplined. A structured environment can be helpful in many ways. Clearly defined rules and guidelines not only serve to bring about normative behavior in a community but can be helpful in causing positive and healthy change in a person who is used to operating in a poorly defined environment. Many people in early recovery are accustomed to living in a culture of ‘every man for himself’ and tend to have selfish motivation for their behavior which is often self-destructive. Learning to live in a culture of accountability that causes individuals to question their motivation and to change behaviors which may tend to harm themselves or other is beneficial. Having clearly defined rules and expectations can also provide a sense of safety and well-being for someone learning to function in a new and strange city. It is well known that returning to the environment from which they came is often disastrous for newly sober individuals. In the interest of following a continuum of care which will improve their chances of success in long-term recovery, a well structured environment with well-defined behavioral parameters provides the opportunity to develop healthy boundaries, deviation from which can spell defeat. Lastly, when an individual becomes accustomed to operating in a structured environment, lapses in behavior can be readily observed by house mates and staff and can provide cues for challenging and adjusting self-defeating behaviors, and may serve to cause emotional and spiritual growth in the individual.
Written by Joe Umberger- Director of Residential Services, Austin