Susan Stader is the founder and executive director of Next Step Recovery, a 12-step based transitional living community for adult men in early recovery. Now celebrating it’s eleventh year, Next Step Recovery provides safe, substance-free housing and highly structured recovery programming to support long-term recovery. Susan oversees Next Step’s programs, manages a staff of 10, and provides clinical support to residents.
Susan understands first-hand the power of community for restoring dignity and a sense of purpose. It transformed her own life many times. First, as a teenager in a therapeutic residential school, where she learned how to claim her self worth and became inspired to help others do the same.
Susan soon discovered the Camphill Special Schools movement—therapeutic residential communities for handicapped children and adults, based on Rudolf Steiner’s educational theories. Susan moved to Pennsylvania, where she lived and worked for three years as support staff and 10th grade Waldorf curative education teacher. She then moved to England to study anthroposophical counseling at Emerson College.
Shortly after graduating, Susan was called again to serve and live in community, this time in a therapeutic boarding school for teens in Arezzo, Italy. Susan supported students in her role as a mental health and substance abuse counselor. Having come full circle, Susan’s life purpose crystallized.
She moved back to the U.S. with her husband and daughter and spent the next 10 years pursuing her formal education, earning her master’s degree in community counseling and certification as a licensed professional counselor and clinical addictions specialist.
Susan worked for several years as the lead counselor for a large residential community of men recovering from substance use disorders. During this time, Susan developed a robust curriculum that educated residents about addictions recovery and relapse prevention tools and strategies.
In early 2006, Susan learned that a local halfway house was closing its doors, leaving a critical shortage of recovery housing in the Asheville area. To make matters worse, there wasn’t any sober housing offering the highly structured recovery support and education that research shows are critical to early recovery success.
Susan didn’t hesitate to take the next step in her life’s work. In May 2006, Susan and Next Step Recovery welcomed its first residents, and the program quickly filled with a long waiting list.
Since then, Next Step Recovery has helped hundreds of men rebuild their lives, reclaim their dignity and restore their hope. It has also continued to expand its programs and services to meet the ongoing need for safe, structured and effective early recovery support.