COLORADO SPRINGS — Lance Lang walks through the sober living home he helped bring to Colorado Springs that's now helping men in addiction get out.
"It needs to feel to me beautiful, safe, warm, inviting and welcoming," said Hope is Alive founder Lance Lang. "That helps them feel worthy. That’s the biggest thing. We believe in having normal homes in normal neighborhoods because we’re just normal folks trying to change our lives."
Lang says "we" because he is one of them. A recovering drug and alcohol addict, Lang has been sober for 11-and-a-half years.
"I didn’t understand anything about addiction, recovery, or anything until I was sitting in a detox facility after having a 50-pill-a-day addiction for three years," Lang said.
The pain pill addiction started when he got his wisdom teeth out in his early 20s.
"I had dabbled in drugs before then, but I remember taking that prescription from that surgery, taking a few, and really liking the way that I felt," Lang said. "I felt euphoric. I felt a burst of energy.
From there, his life unraveled.
"Everything was destroyed," he said. "I was barely hanging on to a thread for a job just because it was in a family business."
His uncle, who owned that business, finally put a stop to the chaos.
"I'm sitting at work, I just took a ton of pills, doing my normal routine of Red Bull and vodka underneath my desk. It’s 9:30 in the morning," Lang said. "My life is completely ruined and my uncle comes in and basically intervenes on me in my office right there and says, 'You’re not leaving here until we get a plan to fix this.'"
Lang said he immediately confessed to his uncle about just how serious his addiction was.
"I was sick and tired of running," said Lang. "I was in bondage to addiction. I didn’t want to take pills anymore, I had to. I didn’t know what else to do."
Lang spent the next 90 days in rehab.
"When I sat in the smoke pit at a treatment center and began to hear other men tell their story of what I had been through my life began to change," Lang said. "The best gift that I got was community. I was realizing that I wasn’t alone and that’s really what spawned this idea about 'Hope is Alive."
Hope is Alive is the non-profit sober living mentoring program Lang founded to help create radical life change for drug addicts, alcoholics and the people who love them. The 18-month-long program requires participants to work and pay $750/month rent. Scholarships are also available for rent. It uses the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous combined with many other resources.
"When they leave here, we want them to be set up ready to go, to be a contributing citizen wherever they are," Lang said. "Part of that is learning how to manage your money. So, they’re all required to work. They go through Financial Peace University. They learn how to save money and pay down their debts. They pay rent on time and if they don’t think it a late fee just like they would have anywhere else."
This home is the 25th he's opened across the country.
"The guys set 'smart goals' every quarter and so we put them above our bed, so we’re reminded of them every day that we get up," said Lang.
My goals were to save $600 each month, to read the Bible every morning, and to read a chapter a day in my book," said recovering drug addict Michael Wiesner. "Then I had a 'God goal,' something only God can do and that restores my relationship with my family."
Those monthly goals helping to keep the 25-year-old sober now for nearly two years.
"I’ve been talking to my dad for the last week. He’s so excited for me to come home for Christmas," said Wiesner. "I haven’t spent a Christmas with my family since I was 17 years old.
Wiesner is a former meth and heroin addict who ended up homeless and eventually in prison.
"I ran from a lot of trauma and abuse as a kid and so that’s just kind of how I numbed it," Wiesner said.
Now, Wiesner is a house manager for Hope is Alive and plans to help open another home soon. It's the kind of success that motivates Lang to stay sober, too.
"If you think about the eight to ten guys who live here, and the 210 other residents in 25 homes, and 11 cities, and six states, there’s life-changing work that’s going on here and people need to know about it," Lang said. "There are so many folks who are struggling, who are shamed to silence, they know they have somebody in their mind that's struggling they don’t know what to do, they don’t know where to go, and we want them to know that there’s hope. There’s hope right here in Colorado Springs."
Hope is Alive is also working to open a sober living home for women in Colorado Springs.
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