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The University of Being Human

When Reeves left ILC, she held her head high and looked people in the eyes again. As director of alumni services and recovery counselor training for Newport Academy, a drug rehab center in California, Reeves integrates what she learned at ILC into her everyday life — and into the lives of those she touches at work.

“At other treatment centers, they just get you sober, and then what?” Reeves says. “At ILC, I felt like I got the tools to live a peaceful and content life.”

Villa House, ILC's women's independent living home, is centrally located in the Music Row neighborhood of Nashville. One tenet of ILC is that recovery happens in the real world. Photo courtesy of Integrative Life Center.

Villa House, ILC’s women’s independent living home, is centrally located in the Music Row neighborhood of Nashville. One tenet of ILC is that recovery happens in the real world. Photo courtesy of Integrative Life Center.

Practicing Real-World Recovery

With more than 30 years in the field, Cook has seen too many people implode in the real world after being sequestered away from everyday life in inpatient treatment. At ILC, they wanted to create a program where the stressors of everyday life were still present. So they removed the bubble and built a community in the heart of Nashville.

ILC offers two independent living homes centrally located in the Music Row neighborhood: Villa Place for women and 15th Avenue for men. Although staff is available, the residents are typically established in their recovery and are responsible for transportation, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

“We’re doing exposure therapy in some ways,” Cook says. “If you’re an alcoholic, you have to walk by the beer case at the MAPCO Mart. If you have an eating disorder, you have to fix your own meals.”

In addition to life-skills meetings, community group meetings and dinners, and volunteer hours, residents must attend at least five recovery-oriented meetings a week — but which meetings are entirely up to the client.

“It’s important people know they have a choice,” Cook says, “and that they have to take responsibility for the choices they make.”

If someone doesn’t want to go to a 12-Step meeting, then no problem. Nashville is home to more than 350 recovery meetings each week, and more than 60 meetings are within two miles of the ILC recovery residences. ILC has many community partners, including Recovery Refuge, massage therapists, acupuncture practitioners, and meditation masters, so clients are able to develop a discipline that feels authentic and sustainable.

In addition to the recovery residences, ILC also runs Morning Star, a residential living community for women. Located just outside of Nashville, the 25-acre retreat includes two houses, a low-ropes course, a Native American sweat lodge, an art room, a garden, and walking trails. Most residents have completed residential treatment and are ready to step down to a lower level of care but still bene-fit from a more structured environment. Although professional staff is on hand 24/7, the clients are still expected to do the grocery shopping, cooking, and gardening.

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