Q&A: Why Firebird Transformations Men’s Sober Living Program Is Unique To Asheville

Practical Questions, Simple Answers

Sober living is still relatively “new” to most people- many haven’t heard of it before because the term “halfway house” is more often used, but less aptly describes the environment, and the process. There is a spectrum out there of what sober living can look like: in some states, what’s advertised as sober living can be very little than shared housing in retrofitted motels with daily, insurance billed drug screens, and maybe a ride to 12 Step meetings. Some of these are very well intentioned- some are operated strictly for profit and have very little clinical basis of understanding in addiction. Truly, 99.9% of humanity sets out to do the right thing. Yet it is also helpful to know where you or your loved one is going, how they operate, the fees, and the level of structure/supervision. It comes down to ethics and motives!

Asheville is fortunate to have an abundance of excellent sober living programs in the area- Firebird’s values toward supporting those in need is collaborative, not competitive. If we can’t meet your needs, we’ll refer onward to the best fit. All have their niches and specializations for the right population. Tackling addiction is something best done as a unified front. While what we offer is different, we are joined to a larger cause that surpasses all others: eliminating the stigma of addiction, then offering hope of a transformed way of life. There’s no time to waste with addiction. It might not benefit the “competitive” mindset, but our values guide our administrative principles.

Questions most people ask about our sober living program (or should!)

We have four homes; all are surrounded by the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains in popular Asheville, NC. Our Fundamentals Level homes are both minutes to the serene and recreationally abundant Beaver Lake. We are close to Downtown, the popular River Arts District, and West Asheville. There are 10 support group meetings in easy walking distance from our "HQ," Kingfisher House. We are just miles away from ziplining, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and of course, great hiking. We are lucky to overlook a carp pond at Kingfisher, and are bordered by rushing Beaverdam Creek at Peregrine House. Nighthawk Cottage is minutes away from the French Broad River's recreational parks. Redtail House, meanwhile, is more suburban: tucked into a neighborhood in a West Asheville bedroom community, the home overlooks long-settled valleys and the Friday Night Lights of a nationally competitive high school.
First and foremost, you don't go into this to make money- and if you do, there's a problem. We simply strive to sustain best outcomes, with an "Open Books" policy for Members, Families and Stakeholders (who else does that?). Individually, we gladly discuss custom arrangements for those who are enthusiastic to recover and have special financial needs.The first month of Membership combines a one-time Entry Fee with our Monthly Fee into a single payment of $4500. Thereafter, the only cost is the Monthly Membership Fee, which is $2750. You'll see quickly why we are an extraordinary value- we offer the same quality services many other programs provide, for thousands of dollars less. Plus, we offer many other highly unique and data-driven services which are bundled in. There's no surprise or hidden costs. This is it.
We are not in this to make a staggering profit, as our "Open Book" policy will show you. We're here because we truly believe that "Recovery is a necessary social movement to reclaim the value of life."  We guarantee that the rate you enter with is the rate you pay for the entire length of stayAs stated above, we still need to meet the needs of the organization, and be sustainable, so if/when rates increase it's based on the economy and meeting our changing needs. As we can all understand, the economy can put us all in vulnerable places- we want to charge the least amount to provide the most security in our services. The only time your rate may change is that it will go down as you step down, through Bridgework (Nighthawk, $1750) to Transitions (Redtail, $875).
We offer transportation for meetings, grocery, job search, but vigorously encourage Members to use city transit, which is efficient and covers a wide area. We can easily arrange basic needs rides, but to foster stronger interdependence and self-reliance we can't offer "concierge services." We'll coordinate the day for those who don't have vehicles to ensure everyone gets where they need to go. We STRONGLY recommend that vehicles are held off for the first 30 days, but we will evaluate options on a case by case basis. We gladly pick up admitting Members at the airport or local inpatient treatment programs (out of area programs incur a small fee).
Please see Our Structure for a broad explanation. We wake up as the sun rises over the slopes of the Blue Ridge mountains, and we begin with a morning meditation. Seeking the "still small voice" while focusing on the day's reading, we recognize that meditation doesn't mean the same thing to everyone, and lead a variety of different meditative exercises while the brain awakens. After this contemplative space we plan our day, taking note of appointments, preferred meeting venues, work/school schedules, and work assignments to be done on our property. Except when used for work or school, television and the common area computer are off from 11-4pm during the week. Dinners are preferably home-based, cooking together and learning from each other. Our evenings have a regular check-in or structured meeting. We have a mandatory weekly on-site 12 Step Meeting- which has its own distinct flavor- to classes lead by outside clinicians, innovators, and artisans ranging from practical life skills to the creation of the new identity which emerges during the recovery process. Jay, Staff, and Consultants lead classes as well, encouraging Members to share in an open, mutually supportive way.
To be direct, neither. This is a uniquely developed best-practice informed model of community reinforced relapse prevention with individually focused counseling and intervention. Our Members have received treatment at their referring inpatient facilities, or at current or referring IOPs or other dedicated full-time clinical settings. This is a post-clinical environment. While counseling and therapeutic interventions occur here, they are not billed for nor are they offered in lieu of professional clinical services. We collect basic, non-account specific insurance information during the intake process only in the case that a Member has either requested a therapy/psychiatry referral and is checking area provider coverage, lost their card, or has an emergency and data needs to be transferred to the responding facility. Jay is a certified and registered substance abuse counselor, and and we have clinicians representing the fields of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Substance Use, but their level of engagement will not represent the legal nor casually implied term "treatment" (which cannot by Law take place in the same residence as the individual being served unless an MD is supervising a State Regulated Facility). Staff are clinically supervised per their credential requirements.
We offer, for free, follow up check-ins as part of our commitment to Quality Improvement/Quality Assurance and also to assist in data collection for our long-range longitudinal studies. An additional service that we highly recommend is Continuum of Care, designed for graduating Members who have decided to relocate to the Asheville area. We will randomly visit to collect drug/alcohol screens, and establish regular times for individual check-ins as they fit best into the Alumni's schedule. This ensures that they not only maintain a connection to assist in their sobriety plan, but to remind them of their network of support that they've built at Firebird. All Alumni, regardless of status or services, are welcome to attend our weekly in-house 12 Step Meeting. If their living situation goes south, we have a Safe Haven policy where they can return to Firebird while making other arrangements at no charge. Of course, our Stepdown Program (the "3/4" Model) at Redtail House is offered as an additional step in exit planning.
Let's be honest- relapses happen. The addiction condition is insidious and while we offer hope with a substantial base of success and support, we can't promise a cure. We have a strict substance use policy that addresses what should happen based on three levels of severity: recurrence, intoxication, and relapse. All of these instances are very damaging to the support network of the household, and are managed in a very consistent, methodological way. We practice compassion, but we also have to draw boundaries for safety. Basically, one can expect that in most cases, they will need to re-enter treatment for however much time is needed, and they will be referred to the appropriate level of care from there onwards. Should one be dismissed from the program, they forfeit their Membership, including all fees paid for Membership. Just like at a gym, for example- if you've been warned about abusing the equipment, and you keep doing it, they'll cancel your Membership there and in the same way, you don't expect to get your fees back. Same here, hard as the lesson may be. We will bend over backwards, however, to help a dismissed person find the next right program according to their needs. Our current longitudinal rate of long-term sobriety since we began is 73.7%, versus the national SAMHSA baseline of minimal post-inpatient relapse prevention of 6-13%.

 

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