When the jail doors slid open in March for George D., a 33-year-old alcoholic and drug addict, two things stood between him and the bar down the street -- hope and Goodfellow House, a halfway house for recovering addicts and alcoholics.
In 2 1/2 years, George had worn a path to the Gila County Jail in Payson. He'd been locked up on drug charges two dozen times, by his count.
But things were different when he was released in March. He was ready to change, and recovering alcoholic Steve Reynolds had just opened Goodfellow House in south Payson.
"I came out of jail and had nowhere to go except back to my old friends," said George, who has been sober for four and a half months. "Without Goodfellow House, I'd probably be in prison right now.
"I was tired of going to jail. I wasn't happy with my life. It was time to quit and grow up. Now I'm happier than I've ever been. I couldn't have found the road I'm on now without the house."
George and roughly 20 other men have sought help at the four-bedroom halfway house since it opened six months ago.
Reynolds, who sobered up two years ago at a halfway house in Mesa, spent part of his savings renovating the halfway house for men on South Goodfellow Road. He opened the house in early March with one client and a live-in manager, Art Cridebring, who has been a recovering alcoholic for eight years.
Today, the house is at capacity with eight full-time residents. The house doesn't provide counseling, but its clients are required by their rental agreements to attend daily 12-step recovery meetings and are encouraged to seek private counseling. Clients pay $75 a week for rent and utilities and must provide their own meals.
"Recovering addicts need a sober living environment to live in where they can learn to see the world in a new way," Cridebring said when the house opened. "This is a transitional place to help people get back on their feet and back into the world again."
After six months, it's still too early to tell how many Goodfellow clients have changed their lives permanently, Cridebring said, but several have won early victories over their addictions.
"I'll be happy when they have a year of sobriety under their belts," he said.
More than half a dozen of Goodfellow's clients said Cridebring, who serves as a sobriety mentor for the men at the house, has played a key role in their recoveries.
"Some people don't know that there's another way to live," said Greg, a recovering drug addict and alcoholic who left the house in June. "When you're in it, it seems like there's no way out. I was penniless and homeless. I didn't know what to do or where to go, and Art was there like a guiding light. He was instrumental in making sure I got to my meetings, and he guided me in the right direction. I wouldn't have made it without him.
"I was doing life (in prison) on the installment plan," he said. "I had been in and out of jail, but I just couldn't get it. I just couldn't face life on life's terms. Finally, I asked God for help and it worked. I needed a sober environment and I got it. I needed friendship and I got it.
"When I'd been sober for a month, I went on a 12-step call and we found a five-point alcoholic.
When I saw him, I saw me, and I didn't want to go back to that kind of living hell."
A number of local businesses have teamed up with Goodfellow House to help recovering clients get back into the work force.
"The support we've received from the community has been incredible," Reynolds said. "Wal-Mart, Bashas', JB's, Hale Temporary Services, Roy Haught Excavation, Carmine Excavation, D-4 Construction, Southwest Transmission, Arizona Seamless Gutters and Superstition Stoneware have all helped our guys find jobs."
Although Goodfellow House provides a strong support system for recovering addicts and alcoholics, some will stumble from time to time, Reynolds said.
"They may not achieve sobriety the first time," he said, "but it plants a seed in their heads. Alcohol and drug addiction are cunning diseases. It's a real process to get sober."
For more information about Goodfellow House, call Cridebring at 472-8608.