Recovery from substance use disorder doesn’t occur once treatment ends. It’s a lifelong journey, and the road can get bumpy – especially without the support of other men and women who understand where you’ve been.
That’s where Steph Prete and The GateHouse Alumni & Friends Association come in. Today, Steph–a former client at The GateHouse–helps to oversee the alumni association and bring graduates of The GateHouse together with current clients, building a support system for men and women entering recovery.
And along the way, the association has not only helped clients find a community of support, but it’s helped Steph and other alumni along their own recovery journeys, as well.
We sat down with Steph to learn more about the association and why graduates of The GateHouse should get involved.
Q. How is the association serving clients in substance abuse recovery, and how has it helped you on your journey?
A. When leaving The GateHouse, many, if not most, of us begin our recovery journeys away from home knowing no one.
When I left The GateHouse after my time in treatment, I decided to remain in Lancaster County. I’m originally from Delaware County. That meant that I was beginning a new chapter in my life in an area where I knew no one.
A lot of clients from The GateHouse are like me–they move to Lancaster County from other areas to begin their recovery journey. Most stay in the area because they have nothing to go home to–there’s no sober support waiting for them. You either move into a recovery house in Lancaster and do something with your life or move back home where there’s nothing for you.
When I moved into my recovery house, I realized how big the recovery community actually was. But, what I also found was that the women I had the greatest connection with were those who went through The GateHouse like I did.
They became my support system. The GateHouse Alumni & Friends Association helps you surround yourself with other people like you who know what you’re going through in all phases of recovery.
Q. Why was having support from other clients of The GateHouse so important for you during the start of your recovery?
A. When you’re in recovery, it’s hard to talk to other people who don’t understand what you’re going through. Not only did the women from The GateHouse understand me, but there was even more understanding because of our shared experience.
We could talk about what it was like to live in the house and go through the different treatment phases. There’s a bonding that occurs when you can relate on that level.
Q. How does that level of connection translate over to your support of current clients through the alumni association?
A. All of the alumni involved have a unique perspective of what clients are experiencing. I can ask a client what phase of treatment they’re in. Do they have their phone yet? I can let them know that whatever they’re going through, it’s normal – I’ve been there.
That connection we create also, I like to think, creates trust in us as a support system. Clients can look to us as people who have gone through the program and are building healthy lives in recovery.
Q. How does the alumni association get clients at The GateHouse involved in the recovery community?
A. We plan events throughout the year that bring alumni and clients together. COVID has, of course, changed some things. But typically, we have our annual summer softball tournament which clients love. We also host a lot of picnics at each of the houses where we grill food and spend time together as a community.
There’s something about getting outside and spending time together that really unites us all. It’s a lot of fun. Hopefully, we’ll get back to our picnics and softball tournaments soon and continue to grow the alumni association so we can host even more events.
Q. What would you say to a graduate who’s considering joining the alumni association?
A. To every graduate, I’d ask them to remember where they were and how they felt when they first began recovery. Remember how uncomfortable you were as you set out to begin a new life not knowing very many people like you. Now you have an opportunity to help someone like you and support them as they begin their journey.
I’d also tell them that being a part of the alumni association and helping clients of The GateHouse begin their recovery has been one of the main reasons I’ve stayed sober. Paying it forward comes full circle.
The GateHouse Alumni & Friends Association has become an incredible resource for clients and graduates of The GateHouse, helping them maintain connections and support one another in recovery.
Getting involved in the alumni association is as easy as attending a meeting and learning more about the organization. Join the association every first Wednesday of the month in-person or via Zoom at 6 p.m.
The GateHouse Alumni & Friends Association
Meeting Held Every First Wednesday of the Month
The GateHouse Behavioral Health Center
817 North Cherry Street, Lancaster, PA 17603
Zoom Meeting ID: 927 6549 2074
The GateHouse offers services for long-term substance abuse recovery with locations throughout Lancaster County, PA. We’d love to help you or a loved one with the next step in recovery. Reach out to us today!