Idaho Statesman Business Weekly Article, it's been a ride.

He struggled to stay sober. Now he’s opened a sober-living house in Boise

BY RAINO ZOLLER

Trailhead Boise member Brandt Gibson has always had entrepreneurial aspirations but has struggled to remain sober long enough to follow through on any of his ideas. However, his recovery this time around has led him to a more established sense of self.

He joined Trailhead in search of entrepreneurial advice and on May 1 opened River Sober Living, a sober-living house near Franklin and Maple Grove roads in Boise.

For 10 years, Gibson struggled to maintain sobriety. He bounced around the workforce — working a job for a couple of weeks, hitting bottom, then picking himself up a few days later. Then he’d find another job and continue the cycle.

This cycle forced frequent relocations — he’s spent time in California, Idaho, Arizona and Hawaii. He’s worked almost every job imaginable, including as a freelance designer, executive recruiter and a beekeeper.

After gaining clarity on his life direction, Gibson chose to follow his dream of developing something entrepreneurial. He decided to go with what he knew best: recovery and sober-living houses.

Gibson’s vision for River Sober Living is to provide a different type of living, one that promotes sobriety through self-motivation, peer support, and personal and spiritual growth.

“I’ve always known, and never had any problem admitting, that I am ‘powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable’ – but I thought I could work with that,” River Sober Living founder Brandt Gibson writes in a blog on his website. “Admitting defeat is the first brick in my recovery process, and it has saved my life.”

Gibson has lived in a variety of places. “In my experience, whenever I lived in a house where everybody was self-motivated, there was an amazing peer support environment” he says. “People were there to pick each other up. Lifelong friendships have been made because of that environment. When individuals that weren’t self-motivated were mixed with people that were, that brotherhood and peer support didn’t exist, and failure rates were higher.”

After hearing about Trailhead from a family member, Gibson joined. “I felt like because I hadn’t started a business didn’t mean that I wouldn’t be welcomed here or that I couldn’t find support,” he says. “It was awesome right up front.”

Gibson uses Trailhead to hold meetings, network with other entrepreneurs and learn how to grow his business. “Every time I’ve needed help on any element of my business, Trailhead has been able to help, or connect me with somebody that could.”

The first River Sober Living house is already full and has a waiting list, and plans for the second are being made. Gibson’s dream is to open houses throughout Idaho.

Raino Zoller, info@trailheadboise.org, is the former executive director of Trailhead.

 

I always knew my life was shit and that I am powerless over alcohol.....but I thought I could work with that.

The recovery Experience, Strength and Hope of the Founder of River sober living.

I never wanted to live the life that drinking and using afforded me – I always wanted to live my vision of a successful life by being emotionally, financially and physically available to myself and my family and to live up to my potential, but I could never get there AND drink at the same time. I lived a life of inner-conflict because I was morally and emotionally in a continual tug-of-war with myself. I was not whom I chose to show to the world, to myself or to my family. I was better than that, I knew it, I just couldn’t get there by running away, drinking and using.

I’ve always known, and never had any problem admitting that I am “powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable” – but I thought I could work with that. I knew there was a way that I could drink and live my vision of a successful life – all I needed was a better car, more money in the bank, more exercise, a better job, cooler friends, nicer clothes, a new romantic relationship, a new place to live – just “that something” that would make me feel better about myself so I didn’t have to destroy myself with alcohol was out there, I knew it, and all I had to do was find it, hit the restart button and then everything would be perfect.

It wasn’t until one day I was lying in bed with empty liquor and wine bottles lining the wall filled with urine (due to heavy isolation) that it occurred to me I had been in that place more than a few times in my life and that I was beaten – not powerless, I already knew that – I WAS BEAT. I had a premise, an absolute belief that I could find a way to drink and have everything I’d ever want that I had finally proven false.

Admitting defeat is the first brick in my recovery process and it has saved my life; There is something out there that no matter how much heart, soul, mind, body, sheer will or determination I put into it– I will always lose. I cannot live my vision of a successful life AND drink or use at the same time.

When I was in my first in-patient rehabilitation facility a friend of mine in recovery wrote in my journal as we parted ways, what he wrote has stuck with me to this day and I reflect upon it often –

“Stay sober, that way people will know the truth about Brandt.”

I’ve realized that I can’t just take the alcohol or substance out of myself, my roadblocks then get thrown away and I magically become the person I’ve always wanted to be, but I strive to put practical tools to use that I have learned in my recovery and I have started taking steps towards building a person and a life I can be proud of.

It is time to stop avoiding what is really going on inside my soul and body by way of drinking and using, and put real work into repairing myself. The following are things that got me, and to this day keep me sober and growing personally and spiritually.

  • I take full-responsibility for the outcomes of my decisions.

  • Spiritual and personal growth is key to my long-term sobriety.

  •  It is impossible to pigeon-whole my recovery process or to completely mirror anyone else’s program and expect the same results of which they have achieved.

  • Identifying and limiting distractions is vital to uncovering and recognizing my true feelings and emotions which drive my behaviors.

  • Awareness of why I’ve made the decisions I’ve made throughout my entire life, what has sculpted my personality, my sense-of-self and what has made me who I am – has saved my life. I’m finally starting to make sense to me.

  • In times of discomfort, disenchantment, disillusionment, or disappointment I try as best as I can to look inward.

  • I choose to be mindful as quickly as I can instead of reactive.

  • I approach stimuli with a slow-caution and I examine my motives as often as possible.

  • Communicating and socializing with healthy and inspiring individuals that have some of the same goals as myself is important for my mood, motivation, self-esteem and to have confidence in the life-journey that I am on.

  • My AA and NA participation has been a catalyst and a home base in my recovery process throughout the last 20 years.  When I walk through the door of a great meeting, I feel as though I have found a place to rest my emotions and thoughts.

  • Talking to therapist and counselors has been invaluable.

  • When I was ready to listen, reflect and become aware – an outpatient program helped save my life.

  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation gives me a feeling of calm, a confidence in my emotions, it helps me focus and I feel as though life is more easily put into perspective.

  • I try to pair intentions with my actions instead of expectations.

  • I need something to believe in beyond myself and this belief is the base of my spirituality, it’s my starting point and my entire recovery process pertains to it.

  • I choose to live a life of spiritual recovery as often as I can instead of distractive recovery, and I try to recognize the difference on a daily basis.

  • I physically look-up above the normal line-of-site and notice my surroundings and the Earth and sky above me often, it gives me a sense of connection and grounds my anxiety, thoughts and emotions.

  • The process of realizing that I am human and I will make mistakes in life bodes well with self-examination and criticism. 

  • I listen to others personal feedback.

  • The human body was meant to move and my entire existence is elevated when I regularly perform physical tasks and light-to-moderate exercise.

Autumn River Trees crop.jpg

I believe there is no “one way” to start or revive a path of sobriety and spirituality or to take steps towards repairing a life. One cannot pigeon-hole recovery or growth. What brings peace, thankfulness, gratitude, self-respect, awareness, wholesomeness, freedom from self-conflict and spiritual growth into someone’s life may not work for you.  I take it easy on myself and others, and I strive to live with love and a connection to my higher power in my heart.

The founding of River, Sober Progressive Living is very personal to me. I have had a long recovery process as many an alcoholic and/or drug addict tends to have. I lived in over 10 different sober living houses during my chaotic existence, and it is that experience that I am reflecting upon (along with my recovery experience in general) as a model of what has helped me and others I know, gain and sustain sobriety.

 

River, Sober Progressive Living in Boise, ID. is going to set the bar high for Idaho state approved "Staffed, Safe and Sober Houses". River will empower sober-residents to take control of their lives by providing them with a prideful, safe, and healthy sober-living environment built on the values of peer-support, respect and accountability; Strive to supply avenues that foster spiritual and personal growth, and provide opportunities for volunteerism, recreation, hobbyists activities and professional and life-skill development. 

 

Please visit our “Collaborators” page and contact us if you are interested in providing your life-skills, experience, spirituality, hobbies, volunteer opportunities or business acumen to our residents in an informal setting.

We project opening the door to our first house on May 1st, 2017. Please explore our site to find out more about River, Sober Progressive Living.