While I was in treatment for the first time I learned about sober living homes, sometimes called halfway houses. After talking to counselors, hearing about them in recovery meetings, and learning that a number of the guys in my treatment group were planning on going to a sober living house in West Nashville, I decided it would be a good idea for me to live in one when I discharged from treatment. I didn’t have much information about sober living, but I was willing to listen to the advice of my treatment team.
At this time, there were only a few options of “decent” sober living homes in Nashville. I wanted to find a place that would work with my schedule as a musician, and my case manager found an option that was able to accommodate me. It was $150 per week with 15 people living in one very long structure. There were 2 bathrooms and a laundry room that held 2 sets of washer/dryers and 2 additional refrigerators. They had a bed open, and my parents were willing to help me with rent while I was in IOP. Perfect!
Since I had never even heard of sober living until I came to treatment I had nothing to compare this home to. My friends were there, there were some guys in the house who had some sobriety, and there was a set of rules we were supposed to follow. I remember the house having an updated vinyl floor, but that was about it. Being 22 years old, and coming most recently from college housing, my standards weren’t very high. I figured this was a decent spot for me to start my recovery, and it was a week to week agreement so I wasn’t stuck.
For my first 5 weeks in the house I was attending IOP on the campus of the treatment center I went to. After hearing about guys who I was in treatment with relapsing after they went home, or back to the environments they used to use in, I realized making the decision to go to sober living was a great choice for me.
At about 90 days clean, the band I was in was ready to start touring again. I asked the house manager if I could leave the house for extended periods of time if I paid my rent on time and attended meetings while I was out on the road. He said I would need to pass drug tests when I got home (during the 9 months I was there I was only given drug tests a handful of times) and he agreed.
While I was away from the house I had time to reflect on how safe recovery housing made me feel, and what an important tool it can be in early recovery. Though drug testing wasn’t done regularly, I learned that drug testing could be a great tool for a well run sober living home. I also had the thought that I’ve heard a lot of people have while living in sober living “I think I could run a sober living house in Nashville”. I dreamt of creating a house that had less people in it compared to the house I was living in, that was cleaned regularly, and had a simple set of rules that were actually enforced. I created a business plan for this idea, but put it away as I was busy pursuing my music career. Even though the house I was in didn’t do a great job of enforcing rules or drug testing, the underlying principles of addicts helping other addicts and living together in a recovery community still made it a positive experience.
A couple years and hundreds of tour dates later, Whit called me late one night. It was a little after 10PM sometime in the early winter as it was cold outside, and I was just leaving a rehearsal in East Nashville. He was having as he describes a “dark night of the soul” or rather he was tired of working a 9-5 office job. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. I was getting worried about how unstable the music industry was. I never knew when a gig would end, or how busy a gig would be from one month to another. Also Whit was a real estate agent, so that would help with our housing search.
We put together a plan to create a sober living home that WE wanted to live in. It needed to be clean, and provide a solid structure. The community needed to come first, and rules needed to be enforced. We HAD to drug test every resident every week NO MATTER WHAT. The house needed to be a place that we would want to live in and be laid out well for sober living community. In June of 2016 we found our first house on Farmview Dr in North Nashville and decided to call ourselves Farmview Homes.
We had no clue about the need for structure well-run sober living in Nashville. Once case managers learned about our opening we were flooded with calls. We took our first resident 5 days before our planned opening - we were still setting up the rest of the house. Whit and I managed the house ourselves until we were able to find a manager. This meant splitting time sleeping at the house every night, and learning how to manage a sober living house on site. I think this dedication, literally living and managing the house we created, made a positive impact in the recovery scene in Nashville.
The North House was beginning to have a consistent waiting list. We quickly realized we needed more beds in Nashville. In October of 2016 we started the East House. Taking what we learned about about the needs of a good sober living property from the North House, the East House was a perfect find as it was an old boarding house (7 bedrooms) on a large flat lot that allowed all the residents to park behind the house.
In January of 2018 I decided it was time to stop touring and focus on Farmview Homes. We’ve continued to grow over this time, and now have 40 beds in Nashville and Murfreesboro.I continue to love what I do with Farmview. Every day I work hard to provide the best sober living in the Nashville area, always with an eye towards innovation. I’m grateful to say that I love my work.