SoV – Iron House

Guiding Light – Grand Rapids, MI

Brian Elve, Recovery Director

Guiding Light provides an intensive residential recovery program for men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The free, four month long program is highly structured, providing the men with a combination of therapy, 12 step sessions, life coaching, spiritual coaching, and physical exercise. 

Such residential treatment programs are not unusual.  What makes Guiding Light different is Iron House, their long term sober living housing complex open only to men who have completed the program.

Iron House provides the men with a supportive, transitional community.  The program, which is now entering its ninth year, started with a single four-unit apartment building, but Guiding Light is currently in the process of rehabbing its fifth building, allowing them to house up to 40 men.

The idea came about when one of their clients mentioned how hard it was to stay sober after leaving the structured environment of their residential program. Iron House tries to fill the gap and soften that transition. 

After completing the residential program, Guiding Light works with Goodwill Industries to help their clients find jobs and allows them to continue living onsite, rent free, for several months. After that, men wanting to take part in the Iron House program have to make a down payment of $1,150, which covers their security deposit and first month’s rent.  From there, rent is $450 a month and includes water, gas, and electric. 

Each man gets a room in a two bedroom apartment.  While there, they have to abide by certain basic rules – no drugs, no alcohol, no overnight female guests, at least four AA/NA meetings or sessions with their sponsor per week, and working a 40 hour schedule on a daytime shift.  They do get tested for substance abuse, but far less often than in the residential program, and beyond having access to a life coach for their first two months, programming is minimal.  The average length of stay is 15 months, though some men have been there as long as 3 ½ years.

What makes Iron House work is the community of other men all working towards the same general goal, all struggling to stay clean and sober, maintain employment, and reconnect with their families and loved ones. To date, 77% of the men who went through Iron House are still sober one year out. 

While Guiding Light is a Christian program, they try to be respectful of where each person is coming from, walking alongside them and, when possible, helping to guide them towards a Christian tradition. But the primary goal is to help each client establish a personal spiritual connection to aid in their recovery.

To learn more, click here – https://guidinglightworks.org/get-help/iron-house/

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