When I got out of law school, I got sober. I went to a treatment center, and it saved my life," he says. "But that was a 30-day crash course in recovery." He soon discovered that staying sober can often take more time, so he established his first recovery home in 1990. The centerpiece of the five González Recovery Residences is a sprawling plantation-style mansion that sits along the banks of Indian River, located where, as a wild youth, González partied at keg bashes. Now 21 years into his sobriety, he says, "What I've tried to do is create clean, comfortable homes where recovering addicts don't feel as displaced from the comforts of their lives, where they can live with dignity."
One such resident, a 50-year-old Latina professional, has blossomed during the longer recovery period. The residences, she says, provided the "safe, structured environment" she needed to "feel my feelings while attending meetings, exercising, eating healthy and being in fellowship with other like-minded individuals." The residents follow the guidelines of 12-step programs, which include a process to help addicts and others with behavioral disorders in the recovery process.
"Boris is committed to living the 12 steps, and part of that means giving it away every day," says the patient, who asked to remain anonymous in keeping with the 12-step traditions. Giving it away, she says, means sharing his knowledge, experience and survival strategies. "He understands that this is an illness that needs to be managed, and he provides his clients with access to the tools to help them live without mind-altering substances.… The need for places like this is tremendous."
González's residences are a lifesaver for addicts and their loved ones too. Addiction, González notes, touches most families. "There are so many people out there who are not getting sober," he says. "Society is putting a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage."
González invites others to follow his example. If businesses and other segments of society got involved in finding solutions, he says, fewer addicts would relapse. Meanwhile, he's helping, one addict at a time.