Located 80 miles east of Nashville in Cookeville, Tennessee Priority House was founded by Bobby Vanhooser, who has 15 years clean and sober. The home provides safe and structured sober living for men, including criminal justice clients. The home’s name is derived from the concept that in recovery, priorities, which include working a 12-step program, must precede desires. At Priority House, Clients attend regular 12-step meetings, as part of their protocol, and work on rebuilding new and productive lives. The house is in close proximity to Tennessee Tech University, as well as public transportation. The house is also approved by the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
Accommodations and Amenities
Priority House is located inside a ranch-style residence, which has a gable and wing roof, as well as a rustic ramp that leads to the front door. The brick and white-shingled house sits on a large landscaped lawn replete with trees. The rural interior includes a meeting room, which includes an oblong dining room table, chairs, windows, a bulletin board and hanging scrolls of the Twelve Steps and Traditions. Priority House accommodates between 10 and 13 men who share double or triple-occupancy, comfortably furnished rooms.
Residents are responsible for their own food, and meals are prepared in a fully equipped kitchen. Meals are provided for special events, as well as prior to the Tuesday night house meeting. Often residents dine together family-style, which helps promote a sense of fellowship. Amenities include a washer, dryer, utilities, Netflix, a landline, and utilities. A house manager lives on the premises, and oversees operations. Smoking is permitted outside, in designated areas only.
Rules and Regulations
Potential clients must complete an application, which is followed by an interview. They must have undergone detox. The house also caters to recovering alcoholics and addicts who seek a re-entry facility after incarceration. Drug and alcohol tests are conducted when staff notes suspicious behavior. A drug test costs $10, while an alcohol test is $5. The client is responsible for those costs. Residents who relapse, or men who refuse to undergo the screenings, are typically dismissed from the premises. Some clients are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity of the relapse, and their willingness to get back on track.
Within seven days of arrival, residents must acquire a sponsor, who has a minimum of one year of sobriety, and is approved by staff. Other requirements include attending daily 12-step meetings and completing the steps. In certain cases, meetings slips must be signed by the meeting’s secretary and shown to staff during the mandatory Tuesday night house meeting.
Residents in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) attend five weekly 12-step meetings. IOP clients must complete their outpatient program, or face discharge from the premises. Additionally, the house meeting and group therapy count towards the weekly meeting requirement. Residents attending aftercare are also allowed to use group therapy towards their meeting obligations. Attendance at church is optional, and doesn’t count towards the weekly meeting quota. Other requirements include attending a men’s recovery support group at 7 pm Wednesday evenings and performing household chores, which includes a Double Scrub event conducted twice a week.
Residents must also find employment, so that they can stand on their own two feet, and learn accountability, as well as independence. Unemployed men are subject to expulsion from the house. For the first 30 days, the curfew is 10 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. After that time, the curfew is 11 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Residents are forbidden to work in or attend bars or nightclubs.
While highly structured, Priority House offers men a solid 12-step based environment, as well as an opportunity to be part of a house that has a strong sense of camaraderie. Priority House asks that residents maintain an attitude of gratitude. Enabling another client to break a rule is grounds for dismissal. For men seeking a house that is deeply rooted in the 12 steps, as well as its principles, Priority House might be the perfect fit.
1226 Byrne Ave
Cookeville, TN 38501
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