Located in Santa Cruz, California, FleaHab was founded in 2014 by celebrity surfer Darryl “Flea” Virostko. Flea’s resume includes acting in various surfer films, like the documentary The Westsiders and Step Into the Liquid, as well as winning the Titans of the Mavericks Competition three consecutive times. The Mavericks Competition is known to be the “Super Bowl of big wave surfing.” Virostko has been clean and sober for eight years. His alcohol and drug addiction caused him to lose surfing sponsorships and his house. After he ended up living in his truck, he went to rehab, then opened his own sober living home. Through FleaHab, he helps men stay focused on their recovery through exercise, biking, golf and (of course) surfing.
Accommodations and Amenities
FleaHab is a single-family house that accommodates six men. There are two doubles and two single rooms, which are reserved for clients who have seniority. Rooms vary in furnishings, but they all provide the basics, including twin beds, dressers, closets, nightstands and lamps.
Clients are responsible for their own groceries, and meals are prepared in a fully equipped kitchen, which has two refrigerators. Each resident is assigned shelf space for their food. Amenities include cable TV, Wi-Fi and laundry facilities. A house manager lives on the premises.
Rules and Regulations
Prior to being admitted to FleaHab, residents must have completed detox. Additionally, they undergo a comprehensive assessment with staff to ensure that FleaHab is a good fit. Requirements are simple. Clients must work a program of recovery, and are encouraged to pick a protocol that best suits their needs. Some men attend 12-step meetings, and others go to church. Other non-12-step based recovery support groups, including Refuge Recovery and SMART Recovery are also permissible. Clients must attend a minimum of three or four weekly recovery support meetings and are encouraged to attend more, if their schedules permit.
Random drug and alcohol screenings are conducted. Since FleaHab ensures a safe and secure housing environment, residents who have relapsed must leave the premises immediately. Exercise is a big part of FleaHab’s program. Clients get up early every day and work out. The men participate in biking, hiking, golfing and Virostko takes them surfing, at least twice a week. He teaches them surfing techniques, and works with them on an individual basis. Virostko’s belief is that working out can help men achieve natural highs, as opposed to relying on chemical highs from alcohol and drugs. Surfing promotes confidence and skill. And as Virostko says, “its also a lot of fun.”
FleaHab is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization, and relies on donations to help offset costs.
Once referred to by Vanity Fair as the “Tommy Lee” of surfers, Virostko has truly turned his life around. Even though he has retired from professional surfing, he is pursuing another passion, which is being of service to other men in recovery. While learning how to balance on their surfboards, clients learn valuable recovery tools. They develop the ability to face scary life challenges in a healthy fashion, as opposed to resorting to chemical substances.
FleaHab does not like to disclose their address, for the privacy and safety of their clients.
Santa Cruz, CA
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