Organization uses 12-step alternatives, evidence-based components, innovative individualized treatment focused on successful addiction recovery
LAS VEGAS – Addiction relapse rates are at an all-time high, even for those leaving a 30-day program, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Higher Path Living, an evidence-based residential recovery home headquartered in Las Vegas (address is not available to the public), has stepped in to help bridge the gap.
Higher Path Living was established in 2016 by Las Vegan Dennis Hofmaier after his own experiences relapsing with alcohol. Hofmaier had been sober for 20 years when his life hit a rough patch. Thinking it had been long enough since he’d struggled with addiction, he began drinking socially and quickly fell back into old habits. Still, he thought, “I’ve done this before. I can stop any time.” His children had never seen him that way, and he was shocked to look in the mirror one day and think, “Who is this man?”
Finally, Hofmaier’s children convinced him to get help, and he enrolled in a 12-step treatment center. The problem was, he already knew the 12 steps backwards and forwards, but the program wasn’t resonating with him anymore. He needed something else.
Most people, Hofmaier will tell you, enter a treatment center recovery program seven times before recovering from an addiction. During one of his stays in one — an all-male recovery center — he realized he was one of the “old guys,” surrounded by much younger men who had been through 7 to 15 treatment centers for opiate and heroin addiction. He wanted to know why so many people — young people, especially — were relapsing.
Hofmaier began exploring alternative programs and speaking with people who had been treating addiction for decades. He realized there’s a lot of guilt and shame put on the individual.
“The traditional school of thought was, if you relapse, it’s your fault. You didn’t work the 12 steps hard enough,” he said. “I want to stop the shame and the guilt. That simply does not serve someone who’s in recovery. Being in recovery is just about today. It’s not about what happened yesterday; and it’s not about what will happen tomorrow.”
Hofmaier created a residence that gives guests numerous life tools. His formula includes the 12 steps, but also provides other recovery support options. Every individual is unique – and each person can create a program based on their needs and in many instances may include pieces from a few different recovery support services to create their own program that resonates with them and leads to successful long-term recovery.
“To have a sober life, people need to learn how to be happy. Happiness and joyfulness come from within,” he said, recalling the first time he felt joy. “It was something I’ve never felt before. I thought, ‘What is this feeling?’ I felt inner stillness and peace. Serenity. Joy!”
Higher Path Living helps guests create a sober life in which they have that inner stillness, inner joy, regardless of what’s going on around them. Hofmaier believes that if they keep that inner stillness and joy, they’ll make good choices.
As such, the Higher Path Living model takes a holistic approach that focuses on individuals improving their emotional, spiritual and physical health. This approach is devised from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s four major dimensions that support a successful life in recovery: health, home, purpose and community.
“We’ve created a sober living experience based on my own life experience, having been sober for many years and relapsing, and based on the heartbreaking opiate epidemic,” Hofmaier said. “These are great young men and women. What’s going on that they’re using and having to go through many stints at treatment centers without success?”
Higher Path Living’s unique recovery platform utilizes key components for lasting sobriety — nationally recognized programs based on recommendations from SAMHSA using SMART Recovery (self-management recovery training) workbook study and meetings. Within the aforementioned are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and rational emotional behavior therapy (REBT) and Refuge Recovery, which focuses on mindfulness and meditation as a tool to use in recovery and life in general.
“Twelve steps alone were not enough for me, and I knew there had to be other options,” Hofmaier said. “SMART recovery is a program of choice. I believe I have the choice to use or not use, to drink or not drink. I’m ‘in’ my power when I choose not to drink.”
The organization also shows participants how to integrate beneficial aspects of the 12-Step program to create a customized recovery plan that supports the individual and his or her specific needs. HPL is one of few sober living program that adheres to this model.
“We’re really creating an environment, a family, a community of people who want to live a sober life,” Hofmaier said. “We help people, not only with their substances, but with living a happy, balanced life. We work with them where they’re at to get them where they want to be. It doesn’t happen overnight. Recovery is a lifetime process. We’re all recovering from something.”
In 2016, the White House released a National Drug Control Strategy that was intended to strengthen the national effort to reduce drug use. This strategy’s key focus is “supporting research to inform the development and implementation of evidence-based prevention activities.”
Unlike traditional sober houses, Higher Path Living is built on proven, evidence-based foundations of recovery. The organization employs dedicated recovery coaches to assist its guests in the recovery process. Because HPL cultivates a safe family community, only those who are looking for a stay of 30 or more days are considered – and most stay for 90 days or longer.
Another part of the program that makes HPL unique is its commitment to help guests acclimate back into their family and social environments. During each person’s stay, he/she gets to return to visit family and friends for the day and, eventually, overnight visits. They then return to Higher Path Living and have the opportunity, with the help of their recovery coach, to work through what worked and what didn’t during their time away. This allows time to evaluate and learn new ways of dealing with situations that may have been triggers for substance abuse in the past.
A groundbreaking report published last year by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University concluded that “the vast majority of people in need of addiction treatment do not receive anything that approximates evidence-based care.” The report added, “Only a small fraction of individuals receive interventions or treatment consistent with scientific knowledge about what works.” Here is where HPL will bridge the gap.
Higher Path Living was created with a team of professionals who believe in evidence-based recovery. The Higher Path Living advisory council includes Joseph Perroni, MS, who serves as HPL’s clinical therapist and is an experienced counselor for those with addictive behaviors. HPL also encourages the involvement of “addictionologists,” who are medical professionals who specialize in only treating people with addiction issues.
“Sobriety is only about 20 percent not drinking or using,” Hofmaier said. “It’s 80 percent learning how to live life sober.”
HPL can accommodate people at different stages in their recovery, from those who are in early sobriety and need more assistance, to those who are further along and may be employed.
“Recovery and sobriety are different for each person,” Hofmaier said. “Recovery is a journey. Very few people go from point A of drinking and/or using to point B, complete sobriety – but rather there are side journeys along the way.”
Higher Path Living provides guests with upscale residences with private and semi-private rooms, queen-sized beds, high-end linens and furnishings, and optional meal plans and therapy sessions. To help each guest stay accountable, Higher Path Living administers a random drug test regimen.
For more information, contact Veronica Scala, outreach director, at 800-891-9767 or HigherPathLiving@gmail.com.