In your words: the Voyage experience

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In your words: the Voyage experience
Since first opening in early 2017, Voyage has been working closely with clinical professionals, venerable treatment centers and families to provide young men with the care they need to find lasting recovery.
Here’s what some of them have said about us:
"Excellent program with exceptional team. Voyage Recovery is steadfast in their mission and vision. Highly recommend this program for men."
Denise Corbisiero
"I would highly recommend Voyage for young adult males suffering with addiction."
Annette Mccarthy
“Staff was very knowledgeable and professional. The house was accommodating and very well put together.”
Logan Kornegay
“I had the pleasure of taking the guys from Voyage out fishing for the day and they’re a great crew. The team at Voyage is doing great work helping people in the Jupiter Florida community. Keep it up guys!”
Capt. Ryan Stang
“Our family sent my cousin to this facility and they helped changed his life! Top notch clinicians and overall fantastic experience for him. Thank you Voyage!”
Maralyn Coscia
“Caring staff, engaging treatment program, healing environment along with positive outcomes!”
Kimberely Becker
“As an addiction therapist and interventionist, I am constantly searching for quality treatment programs that are clinically strong and staffed with Master-level counselors and case managers. I look for programs that utilize both evidence based practices along with experiential therapies; Voyage is that program for young adult males.”
Wendy Stine
“Amazing staff ! Top Notch clinical team! This place is so nice, right on the water. I would definitely send my own family here and know that they’re safe.”
Dana Kippel
Read all our reviews, or leave one of your own! Read What People Say about Voyage Recovery.

Open House at Voyage Recovery

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Open House at Voyage Recovery

On Monday October 1, Voyage opened the doors of our beautiful waterfront residence to an elite list of innovators from the recovery industry.
Our guests were able to tour our house, hang with our co-founders Alex Warner and Kevin Bandy and our Director of Business Development Graham Doerge.

We opened all three floors to guests so they could see the entire landscape of thoughtfully designed recovery space we’ve created for our patients.

Beautifully designed bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms provide peaceful private space, and homelike common spaces bring our guys together—as they did our guests.

A pontoon boat ferried guests from our dock to Seaside House, a sober living house just little north from us on the Indian River Lagoon.
Tasty bites were provided by Little Moirs, a Jupiter staple of true Floridian comfort food, and guests left with stylish Voyage hats and their own copy of our brochure.

Co-Founder and CEO Alex Warner and his wife Juliet hang out with Josh Foster of Journey Pure and a friend.

Co-Founder and Executive Director Kevin Bandy shared some laughs with Brad Sorte of Caron andMatt Snyder of Sunset House.

Alex with Amy Effman and Melinda Bruck.

It’s such a privilege to spend time with the folks who visited us during Moments of Change, and we’re looking forward to an exciting and productive year of work with our dear friends.
Did you miss our open house? You can still tour our facility and meet our team! Call Graham to schedule your visit at (772) 245-8345.

Real Families, Real Recovery

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Real Families, Real Recovery

Family participation in the recovery process is crucial and we are honored by the trust and commitment families give us.
Family members are deeply affected by their loved one’s addiction and need their own path to recovery, and family recovery creates a much healthier environment in support of their loved one’s recovery.
At Voyage, we put a heavy emphasis on family support. Each week our clinical staff spends time working directly with the families of our patients. Families are given information and assignments to complete each week in preparation for Family Program. For five amazing and transformative days, family members join us at our facility in Hobe Sound, Florida, for a family-centric program of learning, growth and self-care that families do in tandem with their loved one and on their own.
We have group sessions for the families only, and some sessions that incorporate the patient as well. We also schedule individual family session times with a counselor to address family-specific issues away from the group, and to process any issues that may not be appropriate for a larger forum.
We provide education about the family disease, as well as engaging exercises to explore family systems, communication, codependency, continuing care and so much more, with plenty of time for questions and discussions.
Our families have been extremely satisfied with our family week overall; they say they enjoy meeting our staff, seeing their progress of their loved ones and learning about recovery.
“We made an excellent choice in sending [our son] here.
Kevin is a gifted therapist and perfect for these young adults.”
“Very powerful. Very emotional. Very insightful.”
“Having group sessions with [our son] was very valuable.
Sharing the positive impact that we as families can have on the outcome was refreshing.
Knowing that you will help develop and tailor the after care program is very important.”
“I’m confident we’re in a better place as a family than when we came.”
“This was life-changing! This opened my eyes to how my communication style clashes
with my addict… I feel hopeful now that I can start building a strong foundation
to better his recovery and to make myself happy as well.”
Are you interested in learning more about our family program, and how family members grow, heal and find their own path to recovery? Call us at (772) 245-8345 or request a call back.

Cultivating a community of service

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Cultivating a community of service

Service work is an important element of our innovative experiential program.
At Voyage, service work is meant to connect our men with our community. Service work can be such a rewarding experience, and it teaches our men to to give back when most of us are used to taking.
In the past, we’ve helped our community by volunteering for venerable local charities, like Quantum House, an organization that provides a homelike environment for families of young children receiving hospital treatments. We’ve also gotten our hands dirty with activities like beach clean-up. Since so many of our fun adventures happen in the water, we encourage our guys to be responsible stewards of that fragile environment.
We recently visited Wild@Heart Wildlife Center, a predator sanctuary located in Okeechobee, FL. Wild@Heart is a not-for-profit animal sanctuary that relies on donations and volunteers to care for their facility and cover the costs of their animal caretakers and veterinarians.
After a morning spent helping out with landscape maintenance—clearing brush, trimming bamboo and weeding—our guys got to spend one-on-one time with some of the animals that call the sanctuary home.

Here one of our men cradles a bear cub. These guys look cuddly—and they are—but we were reminded that they’re still wild animals and that those animals living outside the sanctuary deserve our respect and distance.
Some people have a way with animals. What looks like fearlessness is actually more akin to compassion and respect. These bear cubs were silly, lovable and loving baby animals who just wanted to cuddle and play.

These juvenile wolves look, act and play like dogs, but they are all wolf. They roll and tumble with their litter-mates and give their human visitors sweet, puppy-like kisses.
Spending time with animals can be so cathartic—they don’t judge an man because of his addiction or his past. It’s vital for a young man in recovery to feel this kind of unconditional affection. It’s helps them remember they’re worthy and deserving of that, not just from animals but from the people in their lives too.

Want to feel humbled? Lock eyes with a tiger. Even with distance and many layers of fencing between us and them, there’s nothing as breath-taking as being in the presence of a tiger.
Taking our men into the community to do service work is a great way to drive home the lesson that one of the most important ways that we can help and heal ourselves is to give freely of ourselves. Being of service is so fulfilling—the men enjoy a sense of purpose and usefulness and a worthwhile cause is supported in the bargain.
It’s a well-known idea in recovery circles that service work helps folks in recovery stay sober. It fosters humility, connection, and feelings of self-worth; it also helps us to turn the focus away from ourselves and put it on someone or something outside of us. Service work is a component of our experiential program delivered in balance with structured therapeutic work to help our men process their experiences and understand their feelings.
How do you give back to your community through service work?
We find that it helps to motivate our guys to connect them with an activity or cause that makes sense for them and really engages their senses. We hope that in the future, as our guys return back to their regular lives they’ll explore opportunities for service in their community—for example with environmental clean-up or being a big-brother to a youngster in need.
If you’re interested in learning more about the service work component of our experiential program, or how our program in general helps young men get clean, call us at (561) 676-0165 or schedule a call with us.

The Crisis of the Good

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The Crisis of the Good

The day your family asks you to go to treatment is a hard day. In anger, through tears, or steeped in quiet resignation you agree to go, promising you’ll try. But you also secretly, privately, promise your addiction that this will just be a temporary set-back. That after treatment you can still have a little, that you don’t have to let your life unravel, that this doesn’t mean the end.
Most of us go to treatment with an idea of how we’re going to beat the system, find a loophole, or be an exception to the rule. Just that idea feels like a glimmer of hope, something to look forward to; after weeks or months of discomfort, we can go back to the way things were—only better.
When you’ve spent your young life with addiction as a constant companion, when alcohol and drugs are as much a reward or a celebration as they are an escape, as much a cause of problems as a salve for them, it can be hard letting go.
Giving these up feels like a real loss, and we mourn their loss.
Some of us are willing to admit that the consequences of how we’ve been living in addiction are too intense to continue, and that we can’t change our course alone.
And at least in treatment, we can get away from the world, away from regular life, away from all the fears and stressors that kept us stuck in the cycle of addiction, right? Isn’t that the point of going to treatment, that you’ll be so busy trouble won’t find you?
Spending weeks and months in group working with other guys, forging friendships, testing your mettle on experiential adventures, learning about yourself in individual sessions with a counselor, so much change can happen.
We start to see ourselves in a new light. We become aware of the things we ignored that were our responsibility, and the things we obsessed over that were never within our control. We develop honesty, accountability and some self-care habits that were missing.
The dark cloud of grief and fear you live under in the first few weeks of treatment starts to dissipate and you can finally see the light. You start thinking in terms of your recovery rather than how to get away with using.
You feel a change in yourself.
This is usually when it all comes crashing down.
The gifts of recovery that you hear about so much are true. But in early recovery? They’re too good to be true.
How many years did you spend buried under your addiction? We feel like we’ve got so much catching up to do now that we’re healthy and sane. We want to be the star athlete, at the top of our class, father of the year, or the best boyfriend. We know we’ve had it in us to be awesome, and now is the time to shine.
These are great goals to have, no doubt. But in early recovery, we try to blast through without maintaining proper self-care. We take it for granted that we’re recovered, we’re cured, we’re stronger than our disease. That moment of thinking “I got this, I can handle this” is a bright red flag.
This is called the Crisis of the Good.
Self-sabotage is common when it feels like your life is the best it’s ever been. We do things, usually totally subconsciously, that derail our forward progress and send us crashing backwards into old behaviors. The habits, attitudes and behaviors we thought in our rear-view weren’t as far behind us as we thought.
A few weeks or months of learning new habits and behaviors are helpful, but they’re no match for years of practice in active addiction.
We might be getting better at being good sons, good friends, good men—but we’re still better addicts, and those habits are deeply ingrained. Habits we developed over years can’t be eradicated in a few weeks.
So even when it seems like things couldn’t be going any better, suddenly life nose-dives. Like a knee-jerk, we reach for alcohol or drugs before the decision even registers. And it feels cataclysmic. Like you’ve blown everything, and let everyone down. A few months ago, this would have seemed like totally normal behavior, but with a bit of recovery under your belt it feels awful.
The truth is, as men in early recovery, we need new crises to deal with so we can re-learn how to cope.
Crises arise naturally and organically in treatment, and at Voyage we don’t shield our men from them, but we do stand with them and give them support and encouragement to face those crises head-on.
A period of crisis highlights where and how we feel undeserving of recovery and all the gifts that come with it. We get clean, feel clear-headed, start thinking about who we want to be and are suddenly brought to our knees wondering how we could possibly think ourselves worthy of anything better than the isolation and self-abuse we’ve inflicted on ourselves for years.
Treatment is an interruption of the cycle of addiction, but it’s not life in a vacuum. The world keeps spinning, and so does your head. So when something happens that disrupts the rhythm of daily life—maybe a long-lost love seeks you out and wants to try again, or the job of a lifetime drops on your lap—you’re forced to cope. We drink and use to reward and celebrate as much as we do to escape or numb; but in treatment, we have to find other ways of coping.
The very nature of treatment is to learn new behaviors in a social setting.
Guys come together—in group, on the water, at meetings—and come to learn what their fears are made of, and that they don’t have to face them alone.
The traditional refuge of addiction is isolation, dishonesty and manipulation. But being in a group with only a dozen or so other men for three months at a time means you can’t hide weird behavior like you used to. Your surrounded by men who are deeply attuned to isolating and dishonest behavior because those are the same behaviors they’re teaching themselves to overcome. Our guys learn to counteract self-sabotaging behaviors with honesty, accountability, and brotherhood.
In a lot of ways, making mistakes in early recovery is so helpful—we get a chance to practice the things we’re learning. And to identify all the ways we’re becoming different men from the ones previously stuck in a chaotic cycle of addiction.
What happens when the going gets rough? You cope. We help our men access and use the tools of recovery—to lean on your brothers, to talk to your counselor, to call your sponsor, to share at your home group.
What happens when you experience crisis in early recovery? You come away with hope.
This is similar to the hope you felt at the beginning, that you’d be able to live your old life only better. But this new hope is informed by compassion and respect for the hard work of recovery. You can feel free to hope for health, safety, stability, freedom and the ability to be present with the ones you love.
The journey to recovery isn’t easy. Everyone wants to give up — especially in the middle of a crisis. Everyone.
The journey is always longer and more difficult than you imagine it will be. Questioning it, doubting it and even challenging it are all important aspects of the process.
Recovery is always harder than you think it will be. And it’s always worth it.
One of the first gifts of recovery? Learning you’re not alone. You can experience that one today by calling us at (772) 245-8345 or use our call scheduler and we’ll get in touch with you!

5 Tips for Dealing with Triggers and Cravings

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5 Tips for Dealing with Triggers and Cravings

So you’re in early recovery. You’re sober, but life has so many more rules, and it feels like there’s so much to fear. All you want to do is get get back to work, get back to school, find your footing, and make up for lost time.
As you get back into the groove, invitations to social events will start to roll in—concerts, weddings, barbecues, family gatherings. The truth is that life keeps rolling on, and the fact that you can choose to be a part of it as a sober young man is amazing. Addiction isolated you, kept you feeling alone even in a crowd. But how do you jump back in?
The world is full of triggers.
Diving back into your social life without considering triggers, or hiding out and abstaining altogether are both approaches that can threaten your hard-won recovery.
When we think of triggers, we don’t immediately think about the people we love most and the places where we’ve made some of our most treasured memories—triggers don’t always look obviously dangerous. Triggers can be found all over, even in otherwise innocuous settings with our friends, family and coworkers.
As a guy who got clean young, I had to face all sorts of social, academic, and professional situations as a newly recovering person. Jumping with my eyes closed or hiding from the world were my two standard reactions.
I had to learn how to listen to myself, and how to talk to others about my triggers, feelings, thoughts, as they related to getting back into living.
I had to be honest about weird feelings at places that seemed like they would have none, like a birthday dinner at my grandparent’s house. I had to be honest about not wanting to ask for advice about going to a concert that I knew was going to smell like the back end of Humboldt County. I didn’t want to hear no, and I wanted to just be normal.
Finding balance happened in finding honesty and strong supports.
The word “trigger” brought visions of being offered a drink or invited to get high. But the reality is that triggers can occur anywhere. Success can be a trigger. Failure can be a trigger. A great date can be a trigger. A break-up can be a trigger. Anything that brings me closer to using, or considering using, is a trigger.
It can feel hopeless; any event, anywhere, anytime can feel dangerous and triggering. And your craving can come in so many forms, like self-pity, fear of the future, or feeling alone.
Here’s an important truth: cravings are temporary.
You might find yourself terrified of moments or seconds or minutes when you’re deep in a craving for a substance. The most crucial aspect of triggers and cravings is that we recognize that we are not alone.
How do we help prepare guys for returning to their lives with new sobriety? We come at it from two angles, group therapy and experiential.
The disease of addiction makes men keep secrets, tell lies, manipulate others, avoid social situations, and stay closed around friends and family.
Being in group is about practicing honesty. The men who live together, who work together, who get vulnerable together, come to learn how crucial it is to their recovery to practice honesty. Sharing their memories, fears, and hopes with the other men, patients learn that they don’t have to carry any burden alone. It’s incendiary finding people in this world you can love and trust enough to want to hold yourself accountable.
At Voyage we teach men the opposite of these behaviors: honesty, accountability, responsibility, autonomy, connecting with community, and forming bonds of friendship and brotherhood.
We use robust, evidence-based, proven clinical approaches that challenge a guy’s beliefs about himself and his disease, but it’s not all work. Our men spend a good chunk of time each week in experiential. It’s about learning to have fun again, to chase natural highs, and finding that we don’t need drugs or alcohol to enjoy ourselves or to cope with overwhelming feelings. Building a life you love takes you further away from your life in active addiction.
The point of recovery is building a life worth living without drugs and alcohol. It makes sense that life includes spending your time with the folks you love and doing the activities you enjoy.
Here are a few tips that can help steer you through the minefield triggers:
BYOB – Bring your own brother. Asking a friend from your home group or your alumni program is a great way of ensuring you’ve got someone to arrive with, to hang with, and to leave with if things get overwhelming.
RSVP – Talk to your host about what kinds of non-alcoholic beverage options you’ll have and if appropriate, make a special request or bring your own.
SHARE – Go to a meeting before going to the event. Relying on the experience, strength and hope of others who’ve ‘been there’ can help. It’ll give you a sounding board while you think out loud, helping you decide if attending is really the best choice for you.
CALL – Calling your sponsor or your counselor can give you valuable perspective. They can remind you of what it was like before recovery and the ways drinking negatively impacted your life and hurt the ones around you. They can also help you focus on the aspects of your recovery that you’re most grateful for.
TIME IT – Deciding in advance how long to stay can help you mitigate any anxiety that crops up. Maybe you just want to stay long enough to enjoy a grilled burger, or to see your friends say their I-do’s before taking off. Spend your time at this event feeling your best and seeing everyone else at their best too.
Getting clinical care at a treatment center like Voyage is a great way to examine your triggers and develop the coping mechanisms that will help you enjoy a long life of sustained sobriety.
At Voyage, men learn to fall in love with life and to chase natural highs. The brotherhood and friendship men find at Voyage is powerful and life-changing. Check out our program and call us to learn more about how we can help you, (772) 245-8345.

Family exercises for recovery

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Family exercises for recovery

“I hope one day you can be at my house with your kids, hanging out on the porch while they play, talking about property taxes or your next vacation.”
“I’m grateful you told the truth about your drug problem, I’m grateful that you helped our family—we would have never talked like this.”
“I’m afraid we’re going to do all this and you’re going to go back to the same thing.”
Speaking with intention
When parents and patients come together for their first group exercise as part of our intensive week-long Family Program, one of the first activities we have them do is for each person to write a list. They write something they’re hopeful for, something they’re grateful for, and something they’re afraid of. Then they read it aloud.
It’s an opportunity—maybe the first parent and son have ever had—to practice speaking in intention and without criticism.
There is no feedback allowed between parents and children. Their hopes, gratitude and fears hang in the air all around us, while other families and their sons do the same exercise.
It’s an intense experience but a safe space as families hear things they hadn’t dared to give voice to for years.
This is just one of the exercises we perform with patients and families together to foster recovery as a family. Speaking in intention, without fear of reprisal or criticism, in a room where other patients and their family members are speaking openly honestly creates an atmosphere of healing. Families can begin to believe in the miracle of recovery.
Family Dynamic Model
Another exercise we do is the family dynamic model. Though a little simplistic, it shows how when one member of the family is struggling with addiction or alcoholism, each member of the family has their own role to play that balances everything out. Are you the Chief Enabler, helping the addict avoid consequences? Are you the Hero, trying to save the family through perfect performance at school or extra-curriculars? Are you the Scapegoat, distracting the family from the chaos of the addict by causing your own share of problems? Are you the Lost Child, keeping a low profile and hoping the chaos passes by you? Or are you the Mascot, using humor to divert your family’s attention?
As we hash out these definitions, family members are asked to talk about the role they identify with. Again, it’s a conversation that happens in a safe space where individuals can speak openly without it turning personal or accusatory. Family members can identify themselves and with the other members of their family, and see a bit more clearly how they all relate.
It’s a daring risk each individual is taking, but it’s likely the first time they’ve considered their family dynamic outside of crisis. You’re just sort of thinking about it because it’s a Tuesday, and you’re in the Family Program, and you’re all here trying to get better together.
A close look in the mirror
Another exercise for family recovery is a look at physical health. When we examine certain health risks associated with substance abuse disorders—issues like hypertension, weight loss, weight gain, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression—we see something surprising. This list of symptoms is shared by both the addict or alcoholic and their codependent, enmeshed family members.
They’re all significant health risks, plus they make life pretty unbearable.
For families struggling to see the detriment in their inner perspectives, or the chaos that abounds in their family dynamic, these physical symptoms are hard to ignore.
Family members begin to see how much their own life has changed in the course of their loved one struggling with addiction. They see how much they are suffering, that they are falling apart, that they need to take care of themselves. They realize how tired they have felt, how sad or angry or fearful they’ve been, how their clothes don’t fit quite right, the chronic pain they’ve been trying to ignore.
Patients begin to see how much their behavior affected their family members. They see how much their parents, their siblings or their partner’s experience of life is disturbed. Young men see that they were not existing in a vacuum, that things they said or did—or didn’t—had a direct and profound impact on their family.
This exercise initiates a self-care narrative for family members, and an empathy narrative for patients.
Families find their own recovery
These recovery exercises are just a sample of the work with do with families to help them heal and recovery from the devastating affects of addiction. Examining each individuals hopes, gratitude, and fear helps to explore the emotional side of the disease. Understanding the family dynamic and the role each individual plays shows families the mental aspect of addiction. And an examination of the health risks anchors the mental and emotional pain they’ve been feeling in the physical world.
We help families to come to grips with what they’ve lost to addiction, and what they stand to gain in recovery. To learn more about how you can change the momentum of your family with recovery, call us at 772-245-8345 or email us at admissions@voyagerecovery.com.

Service and Recovery

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Service and Recovery

It’s not news that being of service to others is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. In recovery, it’s one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your progress.
Folks in recovery don’t have a monopoly on volunteering and doing service work. People from all walks of life know how good it feels to donate their time and their talents without expecting anything in return. Helping others is proven to lower stress and improve overall happiness. Getting involved in the community and helping others is good for the soul—and for young men in recovery it can help them stay sober.
We’re in this together
Performing service work often means getting up close and personal with folks who are in a vulnerable state, and it can have a profound affect on our patients. Young men in early recovery learn that they are not alone—that there are others who suffer and have suffered. It broadens a young man’s perspective and nurtures his compassion.
There’s a wonderful organization in Palm Beach County we visited on more than one occasion with the same group of patients. Our first visit had a profound impact on some of our patients. Our mission was to prepare and serve a meal to the people served by this organization, which provides a homelike atmosphere for parents who need to be near their children while they’re undergoing hospital treatments. It was a successful evening, and everyone in attendance had a full belly and a smile on their face.
Addressing the past…
We learned in group that a couple of our patients really struggled during this service work. They connected the visit with memories of traumatic childhood experiences of hospital stays. Hearing these young men share openly about their experiences gave our clinical staff an opportunity to help them process their memories and explore new ways to approach the experience.
…And finding a new perspective
The following month, we booked a second date for the same group of guys to serve a second meal, but before we embarked we used our daily group to revisit those issues. With guidance from our counselors and support from the other men in treatment with them, were able to talk through their fears and their resistance.
Now aware of what to expect from the experience and from themselves, these young men were eager and enthusiastic to get involved, planning a menu and preparing food for the guests of this wonderful charity. They had a really clear idea of the kind of comfort food they wanted to serve these folks.
They pulled off a masterful service from start to finish, and the people they served were warm and appreciative.
Connection and belonging
Looking back at this group, and most young men who come through the doors of Voyage Recoveyr, we’re dealing with young men who felt disconnected from the people around them and from things deep within themselves while they were using drugs or alcohol.
Service work gave them the opportunity to address some of the hardest experiences of their lives, to be honest and open about them in group with their counselors and peers, and then to find ways to move beyond those memories and be fully present in the moment.
The guys learned that the more they put into an experience, the more they get out of it. This particular event really galvanized the idea that there is lots of opportunity for personal growth in activities they would have passed up before treatment.
In the midst of experiential programming and all the fun things we get to take our guys out to do, there are also some really meaningful, impactful opportunities for growth and learning through service work.
A place in the bigger picture
We’re helping these guys challenge their old wounds and destructive patterns of behavior in a clinical environment; when we get out on the water, or in the woods, or get involved with the community for service work, there are so many opportunities to challenge their old ways of thinking about themselves and see how they fit into the bigger picture.
Service work is a cornerstone of recovery, and it’s built into the . Service work is a fast-track to getting out of your own head as it forces you to think of other’s needs. In this case, our patients got to experience the joy of service work, while at the same time processing some childhood trauma and working together as a team.
To find out more about service work as part of the experiential program at Voyage Recovery, contact our team at 772-245-8345

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Families get better together

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Families get better together

Trouble at school, work, or home, running afoul of the law, stealing, dishonesty, and behaviors that put him at risk of hospitalization or worse: this is just a snapshot of what some families must deal with when they love someone with a substance use disorder.
When someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, parents, siblings, partners and children must adapt, patterning their behavior around dealing with a person in crisis.
When a person in crisis brings this kind of chaos into your household, where does that leave you? Where does that leave your spouse? Or the other children in the family? Where does your relationship with your parents or your close friends fall?
Isolation is a hallmark of addiction and alcoholism
Just to keep rolling from one day to the next, families are forced to adapt. In doing so they often create an environment that sustains the addict or alcoholic’s destructive behavior. The result is often years’ worth of panic-driven, trauma-informed behavior. That’s why we view the entire family as our patient, and why we work so closely with both the young man and his family from the beginning. It’s going to take time, patience, and a lot of hard work to begin to undo the damage.
The goal of treatment is the same for patients as it is for families: to find freedom from the chaos of addiction and build a life that is worth living.
Though the Family Program occurs in the second month of treatment, our work with the family begins from the day a young man is admitted to Voyage. Immediately we begin phone conferences between family members and one of our counselors to lay the groundwork for the Family Program. We do this through weekly assignments of reading and writing that examine the nature of addiction and codependency.
The Voyage Family Program happens over the course of a week at our treatment facility in Hobe Sound, Florida. Parents, siblings and partners are invited to attend. The group size stays small intentionally to ensure that families are able to express themselves and gain helpful insight and supportive feedback from Voyage clinical staff and other family members in attendance.
Family Dinner
Family Program begins on a Sunday night in the second month of treatment. Families are invited to attend a dinner hosted at the Voyage residence. The guys plan a menu, prepare a meal, and serve their families dinner, then they all eat together. It’s an event that sets the tone for the week. After 30 or 40 days of treatment, these young men have started to gain some ground, transitioning from being isolated and self-centered in the throes of addiction to thinking outside of themselves, considering the people they love and how best to connect with them.
Goals and Obstacles
On Monday morning the families convene at our treatment facility. This is a day families will spend with our clinical staff only. In the family conferences leading up to this week, we have begun to discuss goals. Our conversations on this day dig deeper into the idea of goals for the post-treatment landscape and how family members can support each other. We help families think critically about their goals—if a parent has said that their goal is to trust their kid more, we’ll help them imagine what sorts of obstacles and barriers may crop up that will prevent them from achieving this goal.
The Family System
Parents and patients come together on Tuesday, and together we work on some operational definitions about the family system, what it looks like, and how different family members identify within that framework. It’s a remarkable conversation as family members, for perhaps the first time ever, have an open conversation about family roles without it being deeply personal or accusatory. Individuals can identify and see themselves more clearly, while also relating to other members of their family, and members of other families. They consider the roles each of them plays in relation to the alcohol or addict without being in crisis.
We use this as a springboard into a conversation about what happened and how it happened, what is recovery, and what is a relapse, something each family member gets to talk about from their own perspective.
Communicating with Intention
On Wednesday we focus on teaching open, honest communication between family members. We have each parent and each patient write a list. They write statements about life in general or their relationship—something they’re hopeful for, something they’re grateful for, and something they’re afraid of.
Each individual reads their list to their family, and there is no feedback. It’s an intense experience to speak with intention about your hopes, gratitude and fears. But it happens outside the context of crisis, and families hear things they hadn’t dared to give voice to for years. Without accusation, judgement or criticism, family members develop a feeling of safety about talking openly and honestly, which supports an atmosphere of healing.
Anticipating Triggers
By Thursday we have reached the stage where we have defined recovery for a family as a move away from unmanageability and toward a life they want to have. At this point we work on relapse triggers—what is going to be a trigger for both the patient and the family member. The work we have done through the first part of the week has given each person a perspective on what recovery looks like for them, and helps each person to see the behaviors that have kept them from getting there in the past.
We emphasize showing yourself patience, acceptance and compassion—sometimes the only thing that will get a family member through a relapse is giving yourself a break. We show families how, even when something goes off the rails, they can start fresh again with a new behavior. Rather than trying to control the alcoholic or addict, they can admit their powerlessness, reach for something greater than themselves, and seek out support.
Continuing Care for the Family
For our last day of Family Program, the patients return to their routine, and our families work one on one with our clinical staff. On Friday we develop a continuing care plan for the family. Just as someone leaving treatment will have a contingency plan and a built-in network of support, our families leave us in the same stead. Their own continuing care plan outlines their goals as individuals, as well as how they can support each other as family members. We make sure they have a therapist set up when they return to their hometown, and that they’ve got a plan for going to Al Anon meetings in their town.
When someone in your family is struggling with a substance use disorder, you are profoundly affected. Your health, your sanity, your daily routine, your hopes for the future, even your vision of yourself. Good treatment and well planned continuing care can make all the difference in a person’s recovery—whether that person an addict or alcoholic, or they love someone who is.
The families we work with at Voyage are challenged to think about themselves in ways that might feel foreign: to remember that they and their other family members are people in need of love, support, and healthy nurturing.
Find out more about how our program can help your entire family recover from the chaos and devastation of a substance use disorder, and to build a life worth living. Call us at 772-245-8345 or email us at admissions@voyagerecovery.com.
Learn more about our family program.

Taking aim at anxiety

voyagerecovery
Taking aim at anxiety

It was a last-man-standing style shoot-off. We went in with five guys, each guy had five paintballs in his gun, and we tackled the biggest course.
The stakes were high. One hit and you were out. It was more like an assassin’s game than the typical paintball free-for-all favored by most.
In the end it was a stand-off between two guys, and one of these guys was out of ammo. The guy who could still take a shot had a reputation for being the most outspoken of our patients, and certainly the biggest and most athletic.
Based on our rules, he had every right to pop the other guy with a paintball, but he surprised us. He knew he had won, but he did it with grace and compassion and a real respect for his brother as a competitor and the game ended without another shot being fired.
A few months before, these guys were complete strangers to each other. But over time, through the battles they’ve waged individually and together against the broken, destructive behaviors of their past, they’ve come to care deeply about each other.
A program like this fosters a lot of unity. A smaller census means the men can’t get lost in the crowd. Personalities stand out.
is a mix of guys with different personalities, socio-economic statuses, and cultural identities. We put these guys in a house together for 90 days where they live together, eat together, cook together, relax together. They’re together through group therapy, and at Twelve Step meetings. By the end of their experience with us they’ve formed their own tribe. They push themselves and each other, they have fun goofing off and working together, and they close out each day significantly more bonded together.
Fellowship like this is vital to a young man’s recovery. It gives him strength, safety and stress relief.
Thinking about the physical and physiological requirements of an activity like paintball—it’s a pretty stressful activity, especially the way we played it. The heat and elevated heart rate of our every-man-for-himself scenario induced a good deal of anxiety, albeit in a safe and healthy environment.
Anxiety is a really normal emotion, whether you’re in recovery or not. It’s connected to our survival instincts; when we find ourselves in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations we might try to make ourselves as small and quiet as possible until we see our chance to make an escape.
The fellowship our patients forge in treatment are the first step towards seeing people as people—sick, hurting, imperfect and also actively seeking progress in recovery.
Hiding behind a cable coil, sweating, waiting for one of your brothers to expose himself so you can ping him with a paintball looks a world away from walking into a new AA meeting where you don’t know anyone. Yet, physiologically, that anxiety is the same.
Oftentimes, newcomers to AA react to social anxiety by shutting down. They stay quiet in the meeting, they don’t make eye contact, and they duck out early. Through the paintball outing, our guys saw that they could feel the anxiety, but take it in stride and focus on doing the next right thing. These guys felt the heat and physical exertion and anxiety, but none of them laid down their paintball gun and said “I can’t do this, I’m out.”
They had something to focus on, a goal and a role to play. They were just as likely to win the game as any of the other guys as long as they did the next right thing. And the reality was that no matter who won, they would celebrate the whole team’s effort right along with the victor.
, because fellowship goes beyond friendship. It means love and respect, regardless of whether you like a person. It means seeing them for who they are, rather than what they are to you. It’s an incredibly strong safety net for young people new to recovery. It assures each of them of visibility, acceptance, and compassion.
Activities like this, and the physical, emotional and mental challenges of all our experiential outings, can teach young men to find their own ways of working through their anxiety—feeling it, accepting it, and being fully present in the moment.
Contact us for more information about our experiential program, call us at 772-245-8345 or email us at admissions@voyagerecovery.com.