Sober Living by the Sea Extended Care Drug Rehab Program Featured in Novel About Addiction Recovery

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A new book explores one family's struggles with addiction and highlights the role Sober Living by the Sea played in helping a young man confront his heroin addiction.

Many facilities can get an addict to stop using, but extended care teaches the person to learn to live without using.

Sober Living by the Sea, a renowned network of addiction treatment centers in Newport Beach, Calif., celebrates Jeff Bratton, a successfully recovering addict, and his mother, Libby Cataldi, for sharing her family's struggles with addiction in the book Stay Close: A Mother's Story of her Son's Addiction.

In high school, Jeff Bratton was a star athlete and beloved son, brother and friend. He began using drugs in his early teens, first experimenting with pot and alcohol, quickly graduating to cocaine and ketamine, and eventually becoming addicted to heroin.

Following the advice of an Italian recovering addict - stagli vicino or "stay close" - Jeff's mom stood by her son's side, offering words of encouragement and suggestions for rehab, while her son struggled to find his way into recovery. Despite receiving addiction treatment at a number of outpatient programs, residential drug rehab programs and halfway houses, it wasn't until Jeff committed himself to working the program of AA and taking part in long term treatment, which included extended care at Sober Living by the Sea, that he achieved lasting sobriety.

Sober now for over three years and living and working in Los Angeles, Calif., Jeff is now a firm supporter of long-term addiction treatment.

"Being in treatment for a long time made all the difference," says Jeff. "That and connecting with sober people. Also, seeing the commitment and sincerity of the counselors at Sober Living had a huge impact on my recovery. And the timing mattered, too - by that point, I had reached the end of my rope. I knew I was ready."

Although 30 days used to be the standard duration of drug rehab, addiction specialists now know that the longer an addict spends in treatment, the better the outcome.

"The key to successful treatment is figuring out what happens when the drinking or using stops," explains Dr. Patrick MacAfee, former clinical director at one of Sober Living's rehab programs, a licensed family therapist and an accredited addiction specialist who has worked in the field of addiction and recovery for 40 years. "Many facilities can get an addict to stop using, but extended care teaches the person to learn to live without using."

Through their experiences, Libby and her son learned that addiction is a treatable disease, but one that never goes away. "I used to believe that Jeff recovered when he was in treatment centers, that when he walked out of a facility he was healed, he was Jeff," Libby writes in Stay Close. "I was finally learning that recovery didn't work like that. … Healing takes time; healing takes more time than a thirty-day stay in a recovery center."

"Both addicts and those who treat the disease of addiction make the mistake of thinking that this chronic condition is something they can put behind them," adds Dr. MacAfee. "The reality is that addiction is something you have to live with and learn to be at peace with every single day."

Founded in 1986, Sober Living's extended care program was one of the first long-term drug rehab programs ever created and continues to be the preferred destination for men and women who have completed a 30-day "primary treatment" program and are ready to continue their care in a structured "real world" environment.

In Sober Living by the Sea's extended care program, recovering addicts learn essential life skills such as how to buy groceries, cook meals, live on a budget, and manage their leisure time. Living in an apartment by the beach under the supervision of a "house parent," residents are able to live independently, work part-time, and enjoy recreational activities, but with a number of checks and balances in place including:

  • Drug and alcohol testing every 72 hours
  • Addiction workshops and recovery lectures offered by specialists in the field of addiction

•Participation in individual, group and family therapy sessions led by an assigned case manager or therapist
•Daily attendance at AA/NA meetings

"In extended care, patients work and attend therapy during the day and have the evenings free to exercise, have fun, hang out with friends, and even use drugs or alcohol if they so choose," explains Jerry Brown, PsyD, MFT, a clinical consultant for Sober Living by the Sea who has worked for over 43 years in the counseling field and over 31 years in the field of recovery. "The opportunity to slip up is the secret of extended care. Sometimes slipping up in recovery isn't a terrible thing."

Residents in extended care start out with a high level of structure and earn more freedom as they prove their trustworthiness and commitment to sobriety. The staff at Sober Living by the Sea provides each resident with the tools to handle this increasing freedom, including a sponsor, AA/NA meetings, and therapy.

"Unlike other rehab centers, where we were locked down for months, at Sober Living I was part of the everyday community in Newport Beach," says Jeff. "I felt like a regular human being again, not just a patient, and had the time and freedom to learn to live a different lifestyle. It was empowering. When I left Sober Living, it was a much smoother transition - I already knew what to do because I had been doing it for months."

Sober Living by the Sea is one of the largest residential substance abuse treatment programs in the United States. Listed by among the Top 10 Luxury Rehab Centers for four consecutive years, Sober Living has provided premier treatment for alcoholism, drug addiction, and eating disorders in beautiful Newport Beach, California, for more than 23 years. For more information about Sober Living by the Sea, visit or call (866) 323-5609.

Sober Living by the Sea is a proud member of CRC Health Group, which offers the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral healthcare services in the nation. With the largest array of personalized treatment options, individuals, families, and professionals can choose the most appropriate setting for their behavioral, addiction, weight management, and therapeutic education needs. CRC Health Group is deeply committed to making its services widely and easily available to those in need, while maintaining a passion for delivering the most advanced treatment available. For more information about CRC Health Group, visit or call (877) 637-6237.

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