by Tim Grigsby
Sometimes when talking to a potential resident in need of help, the conversation stops when the staff members mentions that ALL residents start at The 24 by sleeping on a mat. In fact, at the old Club, we did not have "Phase Systems". We had "floor", which meant "on a mat", and "upstairs", which meant in a bed. Now, we have Phase 1 and Phase 2, which some of us still refer to as the "floor" and "upstairs". Why do we have mats in Phase 1? There are so many rules....aren't they all over the top? We do not think so, and here is why.
Mats: When I checked into The 24 in 2012, there was a flyer hanging, which said, "Everyone Stars on a Mat". The purpose was to show willingness to go to any lengths to stay sober. I was fine with it, because sleeping on a mat at The 24 was better than where I was before.
In the old facility, we slept on the meeting room floor, which transformed into the men's sleeping hall at night. Starting out on a mat, puts everyone on equal footing; the guys who come in and pay their way, along with the guys who are extended credit. Everyone is equal. For me, sleeping on a mat was a reality check. At 29 years old, I was sleeping on the floor at The 24 with 14 other men. It doesn't get more real than that!
All residents must stay on the mat for a least three days, have a sponsor, obtain employment and be current on guest fees to move into a bed. There is a brotherhood about being an alumni of The 24. We have all done our time on the floor and have moved on to better things.
Mandatory Meetings: The last meeting of the day for the first 30 days is mandatory for all residents. That means no family dinners, no dates during those times, and no TV. My 30th day on the floor was Super Bowl Sunday in 2012 and I approached the office for permission to skip the meeting. The Program Manager told me absolutely not. If I wanted to live at The Club, then I needed to be in that meeting, which taught me an important lesson - recovery is more important than football.
Making sober friends in early recovery is important and attending the mandatory meetings are a great way to get to know the people who check in around the same time. It's a way for the residents to decide what type of meetings they want to attend and meet outsiders to attend meetings with.
With a curfew of 10:00 pm and a mandatory meeting at 8:00 pm, this leaves little time at night to get into trouble. It brings the newest members of The Club back to "the reservation" and safety earlier and out of potential hazardous situations.
Chores: Daily chores are mandatory for all Phase 1 residents. When we clean something and take care of it, it means something to us. The 24 is the resident's house and is cleaned and taken care of primarily by them, which produces a source of pride. Also, when using or drinking, we do not do much cleaning. Learning to live a different way of life is key to sobriety.
Daily Breathalyzers: At the new facility, we instituted a policy of breathalyzing every Phase 1 resident every day at curfew. This is not a solid long-term plan for recovery, but if a new person is thinking about drinking, then the thought of having to submit to a test may deter them in the early days of sobriety. Also, all residents at The Club submit to random and scheduled drugs tests. It is important to the staff to deter drug and alcohol use, but also when it happens to get the offender out of the house and ideally into some treatment, so they can continue their journey of recovery.
Tim Grigsby is the Chief Operating Office of Dallas 24 Hour Club.