There’s No Place Quite Like Charle St, The “First Step House”

Charle St is what could be considered an “indigent detox”, which has a real bad ring to it.  But in actuality is a thriving community of enthusiastic recovering men from all over Orange County. Don’t get me wrong, when you first start out at Charle St., you’re “definitely having a bad year,” but a lot of men pull themselves out of active addiction after going to Charle St. Many of the most active members of AA that I encountered came up through Charle Street, and also some of the most professionally successful as well, which is notable considering its reputation as the “last house on the block” for  “low bottom” drunks.

rehab in costa mesa

Turn Your Life Around

Located in the heart of Orange County (Costa Mesa), I do not think they actually provide a medically supervised detox on site (ie for the dangerous first 24-72 hours for drinkers and longer for other drugs), but there is a reason it’s called the “First Step House.”  This is where a lot of people hit their bottom and come right in off living on the street.

But guess what? It’s not so bad hitting bottom if you are still breathing, ready to surrender, not locked up, and get to be introduced into this community of successfully recovering people.  Charle St. (pronounced “Charlie Street”) is staffed by volunteers (of course many  are alumni who are “giving back”), and there is a truly spiritual transfer of hope here from those with solid sobriety to those who are ready to change their lives for the better.

The platform used  for these sensational turnarounds in fortune is the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous – which is nearing a century of existence and is still widely considered one of the best therapeutic processes that can help men get and stay sober.

Free Drug Rehab* (To Those Who Have Accepted Step One)

Step One: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” – The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Hard Line AA

You may have noticed that I mentioned being “ready to surrender” as a pre-requisite to Charle St. If you are still “on the fence” about getting sober then you will probably be found out and shamed by the experienced recovered alcoholics at Charle St.  You either are not an alcoholic (in which case – congrats but what are you doing here), or you’re living in denial. You do not have to have completed Step 1 to attend A.A. meetings at Charle Street, but you have to be ready to try it.

This organization built upon volunteers requires that you play by their rules if you are going to live there and let them show you how to get your life back. Right on the Charle Street website it states that the requirements for residential treatment are:

  • You must have a desire to stop drinking.
  • You must have an ID.
  • You cannot bring cell phones.
  • You must be willing to become active/active again in a 12-Step program.
  • You must make a commitment to both sobriety and a 10-day stay
  • You must have or be willing to acquire a 12-Step sponsor
  • You must agree to abide by the house rules.

Many very difficult cases finally get well at Charle Street.  If you check into the First Step House, you will get a lot of support. But you have to really “buy in” to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  That means you are going to give up trying to drink like normal people.  You may  be told to “sit down and shut up.” You will be forced to participate in the 12-Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  You are going to be required to ask a grown man to be your sponsor and report to him regularly on the  progress of your recovery, then obey his orders even if they seem counterintuitive.

Are You Ready to Get Grateful?

If the above sounds daunting, it is. But when you have been properly beat down by your addiction, you will know that there comes a time when you will literally do anything to escape the deadly cycle.  This is the type of attitude you should bring into Charle Street – willingness to follow any simple suggestions you are given and stay sober “one day at a time.” You will immediately be working with others who have found a way out.  They will be strengthening their own recovery by helping you. Many of those who check into Charle Street return to a productive life as part of society. Not a small amount turn it into their regular hub where they return weekly for decades of happy sobriety.

There’s a painting in Charle Street that reads:

Painted Slogan: Grateful People Are Happy People…

Grateful people are happy people, and those who aren’t, aren’t.

List of Charle St. Meetings

There’s multiple meetings every day at Charle St. In fact, there used to be a pretty “open door” policy that recovering (male) visitors could stop by anytime before curfew and informally share their experience, strength, and hope with those who need to hear the message. This was a frequent activity among recovering men that I knew. If you bring a pack of cigarettes you might be the most popular guy out on the back patio socializing area.

Some of the most popular meetings are not listed in the OC-AA directory, so I am not going to mention them here, but if you get involved at Charle Street you will soon know all about them.

I would check with Charle Street before stopping by any time that is not included on the meeting list below:






Sunday 7:00 PM (C) Open Discussion (Men’s Stag)
Monday 6:00 PM (C) Cover to Cover (Big Book)
Monday 7:00 PM (C) Men’s Stag Meeting
Tuesday 7:00 PM (C) Men’s Big Book Study
Wednesday 6:00 PM (C) “Pass it On” Men’s (might be “tagged” to share)
Wednesday 7:00 PM (C) Open Discussion (Men’s Stag)
Thursday 7:00 PM (C) 1st Step Winners Men’s Meeting
Friday 7:00 PM (C) Men’s Meeting
Saturday 7:00 PM (C) My First 10 Days (Men’s Meeting)
Meetings Location: 2015 Charle St. Costa Mesa, CA, 92627

Note that all meetings are men’s only and “closed”, meaning don’t go there and participate if you are not willing to identify as an alcoholic. Also, a reminder that there’ s nothing wrong with referring to yourself as an alcoholic even if you’re an substance addict, you might blend in a little more at Charle Street.  Some of the regular crew certainly frequents hard line AA meetings that vociferously insist on identifying as an alcoholic. This is a bit of that “Old School AA attitude” that is prevalent at Charle St.

Plumer Street

There’s also residential housing at 681 Plumer St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. This is known as “Plumer Street” (pronounced like “Plumber Street”)

Thanksgiving and Other Events

Charle Street has a fantastic Thanksgiving feast every year that lasts all day but most people get there between 9 and 11 to participate in a large AA meeting and ceremony and then eat and/or serve the food. This is a big production filled with a lot of love, and a real solid option for newly recovered people who are going to or from family’s houses (or skipping that part altogether).  If you get involved in Charle Street you will find there are outings and special events all the time.

You can learn a lot about what’s going on from their Events Page.

For Meetings

Charle Street is definitely right for you if you are going to a meeting. You can definitely go to Charle Street and hear some good recovery. Charle Street’s slogan is: “Our sole purpose is to help sick alcoholics recover
 and carry the A.A. message.” These are men who “walk the walk.”

For Residential Addiction Treatment

If you are considering getting sober here, it’s probably your last chance anyway, and the tools to get and stay sober will be there if you want them. But, it could be an unpleasant experience if you are not ready to get sober.  On their website, they lay out some ground rules that residents must:

  1. Maintain sobriety
  2. Continue to progress within a 12-Step program.
  3. Maintain a 12-Step sponsor
  4. Acquire/maintain employment.
  5. Agree to abide by the house rules.

Contact Charle Street

Contact Charle St. by visiting their website or calling (949)642-2941.

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