Recovering in Tampa: A Community of Support
Everyone talks about the beauty of Florida. The sandy beaches, the sunshine, and the palm trees swaying in the breeze. There is so much to do, from tourist attractions like Disney World to local flare in restaurants and shopping. It’s no wonder people want to retire here; it truly is a peaceful and relaxing place.
But what about those who are living with a substance use disorder – is Florida a place to move for recovery? Finding a community that supports recovery can be challenging. Maybe their hometown is full of triggers – people still using, family dynamics that are toxic, or too many past mistakes making life difficult to move forward. No matter the case, moving to a new area can be scary, but exciting when you see people thriving in a life without substances.
This is the movement happening in Tampa, Florida right now, and the community is ready to welcome anyone with open arms. Clean Recovery Centers is at the forefront, providing a unique, three-phase approach to addiction treatment as well as housing options throughout the program.
The Scope of Addiction in America
It is no secret that addiction has been running rampant throughout the country for many years – especially in recent years with the opioid epidemic. Here are some statistics about how prevalent addiction is in Florida and throughout the United States:
- In 2021, 46.3 million people aged 12 or older met the DSM-5 criteria for having a substance use disorder. This includes the 29.5 million people who were classified as having an alcohol use disorder and the 24 million people who were classified as having a substance use disorder.
- Also in 2021, 94% of people aged 12 and older who had a substance use disorder did not seek treatment.
- 13.5% of adults aged 18 to 25 had a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental health condition.
- 7 in 10 adults who had a substance use disorder consider themselves recovering or in recovery.
- In Florida, 37.5 people per 100,000 died of a drug overdose in 2021.
- Between 2019 and 2020, 13.6% of adults aged 18 to 25 had an alcohol use disorder.
These numbers may seem shocking, but what they do show is how needed recovery communities are. Besides treatment facilities, long-term support can reduce the rate of return to use and give hope to those early in recovery.
Support Groups in Tampa: How They Drive New Residents to Stay
“Tampa is a beautiful city to settle in. There is tons of growth and development, anyone can make it here. The AA community in Tampa didn’t save my life – it gave me the opportunity to stop looking in the wrong places for God. They helped me remove the blocks and see that He is within me. For those in early recovery, I say question your life. If nothing has worked, it’s time to do something different. I would recommend Tampa for anyone trying to maintain long-term recovery.” – Ben Jordan, Clean Recovery Centers Alumni
Early recovery can be very overwhelming – going from relying on a substance (or substances) to no longer using can seem frightening. In a treatment setting, it can seem easy to leave behind that old life and focus on creating new coping skills and finding hobbies. But once treatment is over, and life stresses come barreling down, staying true to living substance-free can feel impossible. This is where the recovery community and support groups come in.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
Many are familiar with the terms AA, NA, Al-anon, and Nar-anon, but what do these groups do and how do they help? As mentioned, support from fellow peers when in recovery can help prevent a return to use when life gets difficult. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are 12-step programs designed to bridge the gap in the community and support those abstaining from substances and alcohol. The goal of 12-step groups is to utilize a program to create behavioral change for those who cannot attend substance use disorder treatment. It also serves as a community for those after treatment to keep progressing in their recovery.
Al-anon and Nar-anon are both 12-step groups for those affected by someone living with a substance use disorder. Al-anon is for mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, spouses, and anyone affected by someone managing an alcohol use disorder. Nar-anon is the same concept but for those affected by someone living with a substance use disorder, such as cocaine or heroin.
AA and NA in Tampa
The Tampa area has been developing more spaces to provide AA and NA meetings throughout the Bay area. The Tri-County Central Office for AA in Tampa has an easily accessible list of meetings throughout Hillsborough County and East Pasco County. Meeting times vary per day, but many days have meetings from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. This is a great resource for the community, as work schedules vary and finding support can be difficult at different times. There are virtual meetings as well for those who can’t get to in-person meetings.
There are local clubs that offer AA and NA meetings as well. The Rainbow Recovery Club in Tampa offers both AA and NA meetings throughout the week as well as meetings specific for those who use crystal meth. The Tampa Funcoast Area for NA has specific meetings for narcotics and offers both in-person and virtual meetings.
Besides the Tampa area, there are AA and NA meetings available in the surrounding counties. Both the Pinellas County Intergroup and the Central Office of Sarasota-Manatee have lists of easily accessible meetings and times for those who are outside of Hillsborough County.
Local Meet-Ups: Additional Support for Those Who Need It
Substance use disorder is more than just drinking or using drugs, there is a lot more going on within the brain. One person may react to a stressful event differently than someone else, even if both are using substances. This is where having additional support comes in handy. While AA may surround you with like-minded peers, each person is going through different scenarios at any given time. Groups for grief, LGTBQ+, anger management, and women-specific are abundant in the Tampa area. These groups lend additional support for areas that AA does not address. A list of local and outlying group meet-ups includes:
- Psychology Today support groups Tampa – list of area meetings on a range of topics such as black men matter, gay men’s support group, and anger management groups.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Hillsborough – support groups in Hillsborough County geared toward mental health. Specific meetings for the black community, young adults, and families.
- National Alliance on Mental Illnesses Sarasota and Manatee – similar to Hillsborough County, support groups meet in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.
- Meetup.com – while the meetings are not always local, this website is a great resource for those who prefer virtual meetings. A wide variety of groups are available on the website.
Community Shifts: How Tampa Residents Are Living Alcohol and Substance-Free
While the news is often filled with stories involving addiction – trafficking substances, arrests for driving while intoxicated, and overdose deaths – there are more and more people choosing to live alcohol and substance-free. A couple in St. Petersburg opened a bottle shop this past year, and their beverages contain no alcohol. Their shop is the first of its kind in Florida, but they hope to put the spotlight on more people who are choosing to leave alcohol behind.
“’Ever since I’ve become sober, really, my whole life has changed,’ owner Mike Smith said, ‘I feel better, I’m 36 now and I feel like I’m back in high school again,’” the article reads.
Reportlinker.com released a report showing the industry of non-alcoholic beverages has grown from $556.01 billion in 2022 to $592.22 billion globally in 2023. Many Americans are turning to alcohol-free beverages, and bottle shops are opening around the country. In another report by York Test, 1.9 million Google searches in the U.S. contained terms such as “non-alcoholic wine,” “mocktails,” and “non-alcoholic beer.” The same report ranks 50 of the top sober cities, with Tampa making the list at number 6.
In a recent article, Taylor Wallace shares his experience with how the recovery community in Tampa saved his life:
“Hi, my name is Taylor and I’m an alcoholic and an addict. If you can eat it, drink it, or smoke it and it makes you feel good, I want it and I want as much of it as I can get until I can’t stop. Substance abuse disorder, the ‘ism’, call it whatever you want.
I should probably be dead.
But Tampa Bay…you saved my life.
Because of the recovery community here, I haven’t felt the need to pick up a drink or a drug since November 10, 2014. And today, I get to be more than an alcoholic. I’m also a loving son, partner, and friend. I’m a local small business owner. I’m a super average, marathoner, triathlete, and golfer.”
The article continues with his experience of finding The Phoenix, an organization dedicated to offering sober community programs and classes throughout the United States. From boxing to HIIT, meditation, and music, The Phoenix is able to connect those living a sober lifestyle with like-minded peers and activities. There are in-person options in the Tampa area as well as live streams.
Housing: Sober Living Options in the Tampa Area
One of the difficulties of managing a substance use disorder is finding housing after treatment. For some, sober living is the bridge to getting back on their feet with extra support for their recovery. In Tampa, one of the biggest providers of men’s sober living housing is Real Recovery. They have seven locations along the Gulf Coast and program options that allow men to focus on themselves and recovery without having to worry about a place to stay.
For women, there are different sober living options in Tampa as well. The Opal House has four locations certified by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences and focuses on 12-step programming. For women who are homeless due to criminal records, substance use disorder, or domestic violence, Hillsborough House of Hope provides housing and programming aimed at reuniting families and children with their mothers.
How Clean Recovery Centers Contributes to the Tampa Recovery Community
CEO of Clean Recovery Centers Paul Tzatzimakis talks about how he has seen growth in the Tampa recovery scene:
“There are more treatment options available in Tampa. Even in the last three months, there have been three new facilities that have opened up. We have been expanding and opened three more as well, so that is six new facilities in three months. Outside resources have been around, there has always been a great recovery community here. When I got sober in 2015, there were 1000 meetings a week and that has continued through the years.”
The enticements of Tampa go beyond beautiful beaches and sunny weather. The recovery community is strong and growing, and Clean Recovery Centers is helping that process. With locations throughout the Suncoast, their reach is growing beyond Tampa Bay to help those find their recovery. Partnering with local meetings and a strong alumni program, their clients are spreading the word about getting clean, living clean, and staying clean.
The recovery community in Tampa is thriving, and many who seek treatment in the area end up staying for this reason. Clean Recovery Centers welcomes all that come through our doors, and we work with local groups so support is always provided. To learn more about Clean Recovery Centers and the Tampa location, call (888) 330-2532.
Click to copy and share: