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  • Ben Leyland

All-Round Extended Care for A Smarter Sober Living

There are many roads to sobriety, but one thing common to meaningful and lasting sobrieties is the investment in fellowship, service and the creation of healthy habits that help you kick the meanest addiction of all: the addiction to our story.

Shell Avenue is known for its 360º narrative shifting approach. While in name we are a sober living, in truth we are much more. What we offer is structured living within a therapeutic environment with a spectrum of clinical-style add-ons, lifestyle adjusting holistic services and 24/7 on-site narrative consultation.


A typical addict’s journey begins with a stay of between 30 and 90 days in a rehab-setting, often beginning with a detox. Once the addiction has achieve a certain containment and stabilization, people often move into a sober living as a halfway point between getting clean and resuming their civilian life. Some sober livings integrate or farm out intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment for their residents, giving addicts ongoing access to one-on-one and group therapies and processing. Once in a sober living, it’s very easy for the individual’s program to kick into auto-pilot and rely principally on 12-step meeting attendance.


Individualized Addiction Case Management


Shell was conceived to offer completely individualized, concierge case management and deeper, ongoing sobriety development. We work with outside clinical providers and are able to build an entire team around the addict. That can start the minute they stop using and continue long after they’ve started living out loud again. Once you’re a Shell fellow, you’re an alumnus for life. Our tribe is very special to us.


Through our adjunct service providers, we are able to facilitate medically-assisted detox, and start building a map of the additional components of a treatment plan, accommodating co-occurring mental health disorders, eating disorders, trauma and traumatic brain injuries, and treatment-resistant depression. We also have access to a network of holistic providers, including massage, yoga, posture and acupressure, and dance therapy.


Sober Living - A Week in the Life


Clients of our sober living have access to our resident therapist/coach Sean McFarland with anywhere between two and six one-to-one sessions per week dedicated to complete narrative and lifestyle re-architecture. Addictions have some of their origins and persistence in myths and beliefs about self and others dating all the way back to childhood and reinforced by perceptions mastered over a lifetime. It takes real work, commitment and skill to bring those to the surface, to understand their metabolism and to reshape them. That’s the domain of expertise Sean has developed over more than 25 years.

Other components of the lifestyle re-architecture happen throughout the week. Residents begin their days at 6am working out at Gold’s gym with our staff. Once a week we run along Venice Beach and jump into the ocean in Santa Monica. We take outings to arts, theatrical and musical events. We engage in service work, such as volunteer work, food drops and the other esteem-able acts which are the building blocks of self-esteem.


Within their residential life, clients will encounter Benjamin Leyland, our on-site Program Director and Life Coach, who leads guided meditations, facilitates introductions to Transcendental Meditation, engages (where appropriate and agreed upon) with family members and helps extends and apply Sean’s therapy by engaging clients with ongoing process conversations, writing and other behavioral exercises.

Three times a week we host on-site AA and SLAA meetings, giving people access to a fellowship which has grown over the years into a very diverse crowd of recovering addicts with experience in many 12-step programs. It’s a rich, deep bench from within which to find sponsors with the exact level of experience and relatability to fit anyone from anywhere. We even recently managed to partner a German national with a German-speaking sponsor - that’s how niche we can get.


While some Shell residents stay with us for 60 days, many stay for longer. The environment and the upward swing it gives people in their lives is one of the reasons why many alumni check in for tune-ups every year or so.

Addiction is a lifetime commitment. It doesn’t get off your back after 30, 60 or 90 days. It’s better in the long run to approach it with long-term life skills and not short term bandaids.