Located just over an hour outside of New Orleans, Louisiana is Assisi Bridge House—an intimate halfway house that boasts rigorous structure and effective treatment for its clients. ABH offers a transitional residential program for chemically-dependent men aged 18 and older, provided they have completed a 28 day program beforehand and have been clean and sober for at least 30 days.
Started in the 1980s, ABH is neither faith-based nor affiliated with any religion despite its Catholic name (though clients may attend church at the denomination of their choice). Nevertheless, ABH is a non-profit funded primarily from the government but also through other revenue streams.
Accommodations and Amenities
Life at ABH is both big and small—big because the halfway house sits on a large piece of land which includes a pond, plenty of walking space (a big activity amongst the clients) and even some sporting options like volleyball and basketball. The house also features weights and many opportunities for exercise and fitness.
The facility itself, however, is not an exercise in grandeur. ABH offers only 15 beds in a dorm-like setting, and as a result often boasts a waitlist which can take as long as a month to come off of. Before even getting to the waitlist though, prospective clients need a referral from a clinic within Louisiana. Residents have been accepted from out-of-state, but these are more the exception than the rule.
Treatment and Rules
Cutting down on distractions is key at ABH. It’s no coincidence that the facility is far away from big cities, removing the temptations an urban environment might offer. The staff is adamant about keeping the clients focused on recovery. As such, cell phones are banned and so is access to the Internet. Television access is also limited, with clients only allowed to watch the news during the week (anything goes during the weekends though). Things aren’t totally isolated, though—weekend trips to the library allow the men brief access to the web, and on assigned days they may use the house phone.
Technically there is no curfew, but clients can only leave the house after receiving a detailed pass written by a staff member. Failure to comply (such as by leaving the house against staff advice) will lead to being discharged from the facility.
Still, chances are that most in attendance will be too busy to go AWOL. Unlike many sober livings, ABH adopts a highly structured schedule for its clients. Everyone must attend all meetings, which includes group therapy multiple times a week. The facility also offers individual and family therapy, meditation and 12-step sponsorship and meetings.
Additionally, the staff—which consists of two counselors licensed at a Master’s level—performs evaluations on a wide variety of areas such as cooperation, spirituality, physical fitness and communication abilities. The program also monitors warning signs and triggers for relapse. This means making clients aware of pitfalls and analyzing what went wrong previously.
When not in therapy, the men have a list of chores to perform—cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping. As clients progress in the program they gain more responsibility, eventually earning the title of “House Man.” The House Man in turn oversees the execution of the chores throughout the house and also communicates with the staff should anyone be exhibiting signs of depression or relapsing.
After 90 days at ABH, the staff asks for a status report from its inhabitants. If clients show an appropriate level of interest in the program and personal progress, they are cleared to seek employment opportunities. The ABH works with organizations such as LA Works and Louisiana Rehabilitative Services to help find their clients work. Most land positions quickly, though ABH promises patience and support no matter what.
In addition to the opportunities for outdoor activities, family members are also welcome to visit the facility two weekends a month. ABH has also received good press in the past; some have written that the “size was a big advantage” in transitioning from rehab to everyday life, while others have similarly extolled the program in a piece for the Tri-Parish Times.
In all, Assisi Bridge House is an affordable if somewhat secluded option for continuing care and sober living for those in the area. While the facility may not come with every extra attached, their alumni sing their praises and they have a significant history within the recovery community. Ultimately, ABH claims nearly 100% of its men are employed upon completion, and more importantly, the majority of their graduates are clean and sober a year later.
Assisi Bridge House Cost: $300 (30 days). Reach Assisi Bridge House by phone (985)-872-5529 or by email at [email protected].
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Photo courtesy of IsleDeJeanCharles