SABER Treatment Program

SaberSince 2006, the Urban Ministry Center has offered homeless substance-abusing men something that life never gave them before: Hope. And a home.

The program is called SABER (Substance Abuse Education and Recovery). Director Marilyn Furman brought the model from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, based in their addiction research.  SABER combines nine months of therapy and life-changing skills with the guarantee of free housing, as long as the person stays drug and alcohol-free. And therein lies the difference that gives this model a 55% success rate after nine months, compared with a national average of 20% for other substance programs. Also, 85% complete SABER’s three-month intensive treatment.  Another important difference:  SABER costs $500 per person per month, compared with an average of $2300 per month for typical residential care.

Here’s how the program works: SABER admits one new person every one to two weeks, with a capacity of 32 men each year. Each receives three months of intensive outpatient treatment followed by six months of continuing care. Broken lives are rebuilt through three months of life-changing therapy and six months of continuing care, which includes job training and acquisition, meditation, anger management, yoga and yes, housing. SABER has 12 two-bedroom apartments on Central Ave., donated by the CentroBono Foundation. Drug-testing is conducted three times each week. Success means keeping the apartment and earning cash and WalMart gift cards – incentives large and small that make the difference.


SABER is a nine-month journey toward self-sufficiency. The program offers enough time for mind and body to heal, and a more realistic setting for successful recovery.  

For information on SABER, contact Director Marilyn Furman.    Donations of $5 gift cards to Wal-Mart are greatly appreciated.  

PHOTO :  Yoga is part of the SABER program and a healthy, positive way to relieve stress.  Shown here is Laura McCarthy, yoga/meditation teacher for SABER.