Voyage on the Peace River

Voyage on the Peace River

Florida in the fall is a blessing. The blazing heat of summer recedes and we welcome drier air and slightly cooler temperatures with a return to the forest and fresh water rivers of the interior. We journeyed inland to Polk County to paddle the Peace River, a place favored by adventurers interested in fossilized shark teeth and prehistoric mammal bones.
The men paired off into canoes and we paddled along the river for several hours, pausing occasionally to observe wildlife before stopping for lunch on a sandy bank.
Florida is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife but there are many creatures here that don’t belong, referred to as non-native or ‘invasive’ species. Animals sometimes accidentally migrate from their native ecosystem to a foreign one, such as when they’re kept as pets and then released, or when they stowaway in international shipments.
An example of an invasive species found in Florida is the armored catfish. There are several species of catfish that are native to Florida, but the armored catfish should only be found in the Amazon river basin. Here in Florida it is dangerous and destructive; it decimates native wildlife and flora, causing damage to the riverbeds that has a widespread impact on the other animals that make their home in or near the Peace River.
Invasive species throw off the natural balance of an ecosystem, but if you remove them, the native population can flourish once again.
The armor-like plates on the catfish’s body protect it from would-be predators, making it tricky to keep in check. Native catfish will bite a baited hook or even fall for the “noodling” technique, but the armored can only be netted or speared.
Thanks to the many hours spent in the water with John, our guys are gifted and tenacious spear fishermen. Our men took turns wading into the chilly fresh waters of the river with a gigging spear. Though the armored catfish might wreak havoc to our local ecosystem, they were a welcome treat when roasted over an open fire on the sandy, sun-dappled banks of the Peace River.

On the journey of recovery that young men begin when they come to Voyage Recovery, they don’t venture out into the wild alone: they go there with the support and guidance of our clinical team, standing shoulder to shoulder with their brothers.
In active addiction men develop harmful attitudes and behaviors like dishonesty, risk-taking, and manipulation. Addiction can destroy a man’s relationships with his family and friends, and totally derail his momentum at school or work. Addiction can cause a man to risk his freedom, his health, and even his life just so he can use. These behaviors are perfectly suited to a life of addiction, but absolutely unsuitable to a life of recovery.
The attitudes and behaviors associated with addiction are similar to an invasive species: perfectly suited to one ecosystem but dangerous and destructive in another.
Going beyond the decision to abstain from drinking or using drugs, recovery is about identifying the attitudes and behaviors that made it easy or normal to use and purging them.
Just like the beautiful and sensitive wilderness along the Peace River, a man can’t just go in and detonate his life. Men must make their approach with the right tools for the job, carefully removing the invasive attitudes and behaviors, while preserving the elements that make him who he is.
At Voyage Recovery, no man ventures out into the wilderness of addiction recovery alone. Each man is guided by his primary therapist and our whole clinical team who share their experience, insight and expertise in helping him and his family navigate this journey.
Together we root out harmful and destructive thoughts and perspectives in individual therapy, group therapy, and experiential therapy. Our staff are the front line, but each of the men works hard on himself and lends support to his brothers to lay a foundation of recovery.
Just as the men found that it was the most fun sharing delicious roasted catfish that they caught together, the work they do on themselves is best when they’re together too. When they leave us and return to the community, they’ll rely on their church groups and local Twelve Step fellowships for the same kind of compassion and strength.
By hurting and healing together our men are learning how to trust a fellowship.
There are more armored catfish in the river than the ones we caught. The lifelong journey of recovery requires vigilance, awareness, a commitment to maintaining a healthy and meaningful balance. The issues our men identify and process while they’re with us are just the beginning. They’re gaining the tools and insight they’ll need for the rest of their lives to continue along their path to healing.
Call us to learn more about how we help young adult men and their families overcome addiction (772) 245-8345.

The art of recovery

The art of recovery
Gyotaku is where trophies meet art, where celebration meets reverence. John led our guys in a new kind of experiential—less pulse-pounding and more thought-provoking—making Gyotaku.

More than a hundred years ago, fishermen in Japan developed a specialized printing technique to record their prized catches called gyotaku. The premise is fairly simple: dab ink or paint along one side of a fish’s body and press rice paper against it.
Gyotaku became a way for anglers to settle disputes over fish, but also grew into an art form all its own as the practice focused more and more on understanding the physical subtleties of each animal and memorializing them with reverence and appreciation of their sacrifice.
We fish a lot with our guys—off-shore, underwater, and even from our dock—and they all share in their catch, eagerly posing for pictures and debating over how to prepare the fish for their dinner.
As the men work their way through early recovery, they’re learning to be more present, to look for joy in their activities, and to thoughtfully consider themselves and their environment.
The most beautiful and intricate gyotaku are the product of reverent contemplation of the animal—its coloration, the shape of its body, and its strength and movement in the water. We learned that by adding more or less ink to the fish’s body we could capture it as we remember it: scales gleaming in the sunlight, muscles straining in the fight, fins slicing through the water.
Learning gyotaku is just another extension of the lessons they’re learning in the group room. Because the practice can be very simple, or it can be very elaborate. Each man is left to contemplate his own experience of the catch and express that through his art.
We think the results are stunning.
New to recovery, it’s hard for most guys to imagine they’ll be able to enjoy themselves without drugs and alcohol. And that’s why our experiential program is so much fun—we show our guys that an awesome life in recovery is within their reach.

The practice of gyotaku fits seamlessly with our approach because it focuses on slowing-down and the contemplating the details of that man’s experience and of the fish’s role in that experience.
Call us anytime to learn more about how we help young men get clean and find their passion (772) 245-8345.

Diving deep into recovery work

Diving deep into recovery work
The recovery program at Voyage is built upon two big ideas: an innovative experiential program and an engaging therapeutic program.
We’ve written before about why we value experiential so today we want to talk about the flip side of that approach: diving deep and processing experiences in group therapy.
Processing experiential activities means we discuss and examine what happened, along with each guy’s thoughts and feelings about the day. It’s what you might expect from any day’s activity—just as we might chat with our friends after a day of surfing, a round of golf, or a baseball game, analyzing the wins and losses, the hits and misses—it’s a really normal thing to do that happens to have some really powerful therapeutic qualities.
Some activities have inherent therapeutic value—rock walking for example. It’s an exercise where then men get into the pool in teams and take turns ducking underwater to carry a 40lb weight from one end of the pool to the other. Every few steps he’ll come up for air and the next man will carry the weight a few steps.

The men are pushed outside of their comfort zone in this activity that puts stress on their bodies, challenges what they believe about their own abilities, and forces them to communicate, to trust, and to be trustworthy. It’s about teamwork, self-control, and holding the line in the face of triggers like fear and anxiety.
In group we explore how the men stay calm, persevere and push through in the face of all of that.
Put in the context of recovery—these guys are used to waking up everyday already looking for a way to use drugs or alcohol. Everything that happens from the first moment of his day to the last is directly or indirectly related to using, including all the moments when he’s not using but is lying, pretending, stealing or manipulating to get back to where he can use again.
In recovery he’s got to learn ways to challenge all of that. Every habit, every behavior, every perception of himself and his world has to change. He has to force himself to get up out of bed knowing that the goal that day is to not use. A man’s body will demand it, his thoughts and feelings will try to trick him into it. And instead of giving into those radically powerful urges, he’s got to persevere through the physical stress of it, to challenge those thoughts and feelings, and to reach out to his brothers for support.
In group we explore the various ways the guys experience fear and anxiety, as well as whether and how they use their new tools of recovery to push through.
Other activities have more obscure therapeutic value. There’s a group of men at the house who, once a week, will go play basketball. Not all the guys participate, but everyone tries at least once just to see how it goes. It’s not part of the curriculum but something the guys organize themselves because it’s an activity they enjoy. While there’s no expectation that the whole house of guys will play, the core group who drive the weekly games will encourage guys who have never played before to come out and try.
Sometimes a guy who doesn’t typically play will go and later reflect that he didn’t like it, that it wasn’t for him, and that he wouldn’t go again. And sometimes a guy will go despite believing he’s going to be terrible and hate it, and he ends up loving it and having a great time. They all support each other and laugh through it because the point isn’t being the best, the point is showing up and doing your best.
Processing these activities in group later isn’t about identifying an individual or singular experience. It’s exploring all the experiences that happen individually within the group.
The group dynamic is vital to a man’s long-term recovery, because after they leave us they’ll need to attach to a community-based support group, whether it’s a Twelve Step group like AA or NA, or a church group. Learning how to process thoughts, feelings and experiences at Voyage teaches our men how to take important risks with expressing themselves by being honest and vulnerable in a group setting.
The Voyage residence houses just 15 men in a beautiful three-story waterfront house that meshes quiet areas with common areas, and provides a bridge to our natural environment. Guys can swim, fish and launch paddle boards or kayaks off the end of our dock. The guys all participate in keeping the house clean and preparing their own meals (sometimes even catching their own dinner!) It’s a place where we help young men launch their lives as clean and sober guys contributing to their community in a meaningful way.
We look for ways to infuse life with passion and purpose—experiential is a crucial part of that. Each week our takes our guys out for organized adventures on the water, in the back-country, or in the community. Every activity is followed by a conversation in group to hash out thoughts, feelings and experiences and help the men make sense of a world that doesn’t include drugs and alcohol.
Come visit the Voyage house, meet our staff and learn about our program. Call us at (772) 245-8345 or schedule a call back.

In your words: the Voyage experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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