I just got back from visiting my daughter in a drug rehabilitation program in Florida. It is an extremely intense program. Most individuals attend for at least three years. I get to see her twice a year at their festival.
The program is based on only on two things. Hard work and Prayer. It is part of the Catholic Church. The program originated by a nun in Italy and now has several locations in the United States and other countries.
From the outside looking in it appears to be brain washing. I believe it actually is. My daughter is 29 years old and had been involved with drugs for at least 15 years. Over half of her life. Her mind is so programmed to use drugs as her coping mechanism she really needs brain washing.
They use three years as a base for their program. One year to heal the body, one year to heal the mind and one year to heal the spirit.
The residents start their day early at 6 am, and earlier if you are on cooking duty. Their day is packed full with work to maintain the house and on jobs creating goods to sell and support their expenses. The remainder of their time is filled with prayer. They attempt to teach the resident to replace drugs as their coping mechanism, with God and prayer. Their must be something to replace the huge void in their new lives without drugs.
Austerity is another key to their lives. They attempt to cut off all outside distractions. Currently there are 24 girls in my daughters home. It is a modest, but quite nice house in St. Augustine Florida. It is situated on about an acre that includes a large garden they use to produce food, a workshop for making purses, greeting cards and rosaries, a chapel and great outside living spaces. The girls meticulous maintain it and are very proud of their efforts. They do not watch T.V. and are only allowed a very few, modest clothes and their personal essentials. Only their basic needs are attended to.
There are also two boy’s facilities in Florida, and one in Alabama.
They call it “The Community”, Community Cenacolo. The most telling thing about the community is all of the people who have completed the program and left, who return for the Spring and Fall retreats. They all know they owe there lives to the community and to the others that were them with them. They create strong personal bonds with their sisters. They are honest and do not allow B.S. from each other. They hold one another accountable and in line with the standards set by the Community. That is a big part of their success. My daughter was surprised there were no therapist working with them as in other programs. What they find is, everyone there is a therapist following the directions of the community. One young lady commented, after being there for a while that it was the most intense therapy she had ever had. The therapy was constant, part of everything they do and it is honest and opened.
So why should this information be of any interest for anyone other than myself? If you, or someone in your life is struggling with addiction, don’t expect these 30-day, 60-day 90-day programs to always work. Addictions are incredibly strong and encompasses every aspect of their being. Understand it will be a long and hard road back. Most go through hell to get there in the first place and will have to make a return trip back through hell to get home.
I would not assume to offer advice to the attics that are looking to beat their addiction. If you haven’t been there you can’t understand. I can give advice to the loved ones.
Be Strong: You have to say no to them. Helping the with money and things only makes things worse. You are enabling them.
Be Resolute: Their conviction to get clean will waver. The appeal of the drugs is overwhelming. Be resolute in your expectations and expect nothing less.
Be Supportive: It will be the hardest thing in their life. They will need people that understand this and are there for them. Tell them you are proud of them. They need positive feedback.
Be Honest: Don’t tell them you understand. You can’t unless you have traveled their path. Just listen and try to understand what they are telling you.
Love Them: No matter what they had done, make sure they know that you do and you always will love them. You didn’t like the things they did but you will always love them.
So there it is, for what ever it is worth. If you are going through this personally or with a loved one I feel for you. You’re scared and your hopeful. You see a light at the end of the tunnel but aren’t sure you have the gas to get there. The Community is the right place for my daughter. It won’t be for others. I can tell you the easiest one you find probably will not be any help. It’s going to be hard and you need to find a facility that understands this.