James was 27 years old when he entered residential treatment at Bonita House. James is an African American male diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at the age of 16, hearing continuous auditory hallucinations and occasionally visual hallucinations of faces in trees. His father also actively struggles with severe and persistent mental illness and addiction and his family, including James, have a history of gang involvement.
He was chronically homeless for 7 years prior to treatment. He struggled with alcohol addiction since the age of 19 and had been in and out of jail on alcohol-related charges. His most recent incarceration was a probation violation for public drunkenness. He spent 90 days in Santa Rita jail where he admits he “hit rock bottom.” He was released and then went to a local Detox Center for approximately 10 days. After detox he went to another facility and was discharged a few days before his 60-day mark because of a verbal argument with his roommate. That facility allowed him to stay there for a few days before his admission to Bonita House.
James was referred to Bonita House by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and came to treatment because he was “tired of the lifestyle.” In the 9.5 months that he was in residential treatment he increased his awareness of the connection between his thoughts, emotions and the content and intensity of his voices and experienced a marked shift in the content and frequency of his voices through the use of exercise and peer support groups in combination with sobriety. James was hesitant to try 12 step groups at intake, but after moving past that hesitation managed to complete steps 1 through 9 while in treatment and become an active member of the local 12 step community.
As a result he identified that his mind-set has shifted to be more positive and more productive and less self-absorbed, stating ‘I realized I wasn’t the center of the world anymore.” After graduation from treatment he continued to return to the residential program as an alumni, facilitating DRA meetings and now has two years of sobriety. James actively worked to create a healthy structure for himself to manage anxiety and emotional stress which included exercising 3-4 times per week, having a balanced schedule which includes study time as well as healthy social activities and knowing when to take breaks or reach out for support when feeling overwhelmed.
This was a key area for growth as he took steps towards securing his GED and managing anxiety enough to return to the work-force. James was clear that he did not want to go back to his old lifestyle and old neighborhoods despite still knowing many people, he identified a three-step housing plan with his counselors that included pursuing several housing paths. James secured SIL case management and gained supported housing at Hearst House, his first time living independently.