Realizing Recovery in 365 Days
At Tucson Transitional Living in Arizona, young adults spend a year incorporating the tools of recovery and developing independent, productive lives
Often when it comes to a life of recovery, there is no guarantee of sobriety. Except at Tucson Transitional Living. This one-year residential program for 18- to 25-year-olds suffering from drug and/or alcohol addiction guarantees that residents and families who successfully complete their program will stay sober for three years. If they don’t, the Tucson, Arizona-based center welcomes them back for another opportunity—at no cost.
“We are able to offer this because of our 92 percent success rate,” says Trisha Mastromarino, director of marketing at Tucson Transitional Living. “We are committed to this being the last recovery program our residents will ever need to attend.
“Residents come to us at all different stages [of recovery], from already detoxed to still needing detox, or from having completed a 30- to 90-day program,” explains Mastromarino. “If they have not detoxed and need medical detox, we take them to a center in town. Or, we will take them to a place of their parents’ choosing. If it’s something that doesn’t have to be done medically, we will taper them onsite with our nurse practitioner.
“Sometimes they come willingly; others come kicking and screaming. We take them all.”
While other treatment centers might require addicts to satisfy a checklist before acceptance, Tucson Transitional Living has no expectations other than a serious mental illness. “They are sick. They’re mad—life has been horrible; they’re invisible; nothing is going their way,” Mastromarino says. “We deal with whatever they bring to us. If they’re difficult, we still work with them.”
PREPARATION FOR A SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME
A lot goes into ensuring a successful outcome for each resident. Once a person seeking recovery decides to register, the facility’s staff advises him or her to bring two weeks of clothes, including a mix of summer and winter wear, since they will be in the program for a full year. Mastromarino notes that if a client has been homeless and has only boots and a backpack, Tucson Transitional Living will take them shopping and set them up. The program isn’t free, but as long as a resident has a financial sponsor, then the facility’s staff can take care of the details, including clothing.
A financial sponsor could be a parent, a grandparent, an aunt—really anyone who wants to invest in the young person’s future of recovery. “We call it ‘giving them their last gift,’” notes Mastromarino. “We recognize it’s a big commitment for the sponsor, and it’s a big commitment for the resident.” The idea behind the “last gift” is that once residents have completed the program, they will be living full, independent lives of recovery and will not need to lean on their loved ones like they might have in the past.
Residents also may bring their pets. This option—unique among addiction treatment centers—has resulted in two stray dogs becoming “house” dogs, plus a string of lizards, cats, birds, and other dogs joining their owners on their first steps toward recovery.