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

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
Learn more about our family program.

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

The family experience of addiction

What’s the last thing you think before you fall asleep? What’s the first thing you think in the morning?
“Is he okay?”
The young man in your life might be stealing; being dishonest; getting in trouble at work, school, or with the law; he might be taking risks with his life that result in hospitalization or worse.
As a family member, as someone who loves someone who’s struggling with a substance use disorder, you’ve likely been forced to adapt your behavior to a person who isn’t honest about where they are, who they’re with and what they’re doing.
Perhaps you've found yourself playing detective, using technology or social media to track him down. Parents often admit to tracking their loved one’s iPhone twenty or thirty times a day; to combing through his social media looking for all kinds of clues, hints, any indication of where he is and what he’s doing.
Families are stuck in an unending pattern of chaos, forced to respond to life-or-death scenarios in real-time. Hardest of all is that they develop a false sense of happiness in the moments of calm that occasionally punctuate the chaos. When families build an entire code of behaviors around someone they love not dying, not getting arrested, or coming home only an hour late instead of two days late as being cause for celebration, this illustrates a major degradation of where they’re finding happiness.
One of the goals of our work with families is to help them re-adjust their expectations around sanity and happiness; to refuse to tolerate old destructive behaviors and look for real joy and success.
Perspective is one of the biggest challenges families face. Because they have grown so accustomed to accepting pain and chaos as part of daily life, parents especially struggle to see what’s really going on. We help them take a closer look.
It’s real: you really did spend six full hours last week researching where your kid was through a variety of apps; you really spent three hours combing through social media to learn about his friends; you really spent twelve or fifteen hours talking about it with the few people who are still willing to hear you; and yes, you really spent at least three hours fighting about it all with someone you care about.
And on top of all that time you spent searching, fighting, and fearing the worst, you still had to be a parent to your other kids, still had to be a partner to your spouse, still had to show up at work and do your job, still had to grocery shop, still had to walk the dog, still had to show up for your friends.
How present are you for your own life? How much do you have leftover for yourself after exhausting all that time and energy on your son? How kind were you, how patient were you, how resilient were you in all the other areas of your life that deserve your attention too?
In the NA Basic Text there’s a passage about isolation I always share with families. It says “We did not choose to become addicts. We suffer from a disease that expresses itself in ways that are anti-social and that makes detection, diagnosis and treatment difficult. Our disease isolated us from people except when we were getting, using and finding ways and means to get more. Hostile, resentful self-centered and self-seeking, we cut ourselves off from the outside world Anything not completely familiar became alien and dangerous. Our world shrank and isolation became our life. We used in order to survive. It was the only way of life that we knew.”
That’s what isolation looks like for an addict or alcoholic, how might that differ from the isolation experienced by a family member?
When we talk about control and unmanageability, we have to talk about typical patterns of behavior in family members. In adapting to a seemingly endless cycle of chaos, they often create an environment that sustains the addict or alcoholic’s destructive behavior. Even in trying to be ‘nice’—trying to accept a young man’s behavior, give him a break, let him off the hook once in a while—there is an attempt to control in there. There is the unspoken hope that if you can give them what they want, they’ll give you what you want.
We help families see that old patterns don’t inspire new behaviors—that tolerating, accepting, and adapting your life to an addict or alcoholic doesn’t help them, rather it hurts you and the rest of your family.
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.
We ask parents to imagine themselves before they had children, before they got married, before they started their career, before they went to college.
Who were you before addiction came into your life?
In that lifetime before now, when you thought about having kids, is this what you imagined?
What would you tell that person now? What would they tell you?
What would you change in your life now to get back to the ideals that you had then?
You’ll never be able to return to who you were before addiction, but for most people living in recovery that’s a good thing. Living in recovery means knowing what you are powerless over, what you cannot control, what makes your life unmanageable, and that there is something greater than you that you can reach out to for help.
Our goal by providing an , and weekly family support for the duration of a patient’s stay with us, is to help families in the same way we help patients: freedom from the chaos and destructive of active addiction, and a chance at a life worth living.
Contact us to learn more about how you can rebuild yourself and your family and give everyone a second chance at a happy, healthy life, call us at 772-245-8345 or email us at

Must-have elements of a continuing care plan

Good clinicians know that good treatment followed by good continuing care has good outcomes.
That seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?
One of the most important services a treatment center can provide is a rock-solid continuing care plan. Continuing care is the plan devised by your treatment center’s clinical team that addresses each patient’s specific needs, his relationship with his family, and his post-treatment environment.
At Voyage, a continuing care plan might include a recommendation for sober housing, a collegiate recovery community, or get very specific about contingencies for returning home. We consider his access to a Twelve Step community, familial or financial support he’ll have, and if the environment will suit his academic or vocational needs.
We want to ensure that his recovery environment is supportive of his long-term remission.
Once our clinical team has developed a continuing care plan for a patient, and we’ve got him and his family on board, we plan a visit with him and a family member to the locale that he's going to stay in after treatment—whether he stays in Martin County, returns to his hometown, or goes to a new place.
Our plan for the day includes seeing some of the area, meeting with folks from the intensive outpatient program or sober house we’re recommending, and then checking out a meeting so our patient has a sense of the local Twelve Step community he’s joining.
It’s a great way of diffusing tension and nerves everyone has surrounding what comes after treatment, because together we get to develop a snapshot, a sense of the look and feel of what this young man’s next chapter will be.
What makes these outings even more special is the opportunity our patient’s family member has to see how far he’s come. Gone are the days of reacting to crisis—now their loved one is making good, healthy decisions for himself. It’s a profound moment for everyone.
What makes for a good continuing care plan? Look for these five elements:
1. Holistic clinical collaboration
Our entire comes together weekly to address the most effective ways of ensuring long-term remission which includes treatment and continuing care. At Voyage our clinical team includes our CEO, Chief Clinical Officer, Psychiatrist, Director of Nursing, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, and Primary Counselor.
As a team, we address a variety of factors affecting a patient’s needs such as any co-occurring mental health issues, his academic and vocational goals, his family relationship, his recovery environment, and what he likes to do for fun.
The plan we devise must be aggressive in ensuring remission, with equal emphasis on being a plan he’ll want to follow through on. A healthy balance must include challenges as well as joy and fun.
2. Opportunities to practice the plan
During the , we use the first month to get a young man stable in his new routine of healthy attention to self-care. In the second month, we address a young man’s relationship with his family, and host his family at a week-long onsite . In the third month we practice coping strategies and life skills that will support a young man’s stability, wherever his continuing care plan takes him.
This practice in the third month is crucial. With two months of continuous sobriety under his belt, and a newfound sense of community, accountability, and responsibility for self, we give a young man the opportunity to carve out the life he wishes to have. This life should include community and fellowship, achievement and satisfaction at work or school, and consistent sobriety. Our clinical team and counselors facilitate this engaged practice through scenarios in group, weekly family sessions, and experiential outings.
3. Family involvement from the beginning
Parents and other close family members are often the ones most profoundly affected by a young man’s struggle with substance abuse. It is so important that each family is involved with their loved one’s treatment and continuing care plan from the very start.
In weekly family conferences we’ll review our clinical team’s recommendations for a continuing care plan with the family to ensure he has the support he needs and to circumvent any obstacles to the plan.
During Family Program week, many families find that after a month or more of separation from their loved one, they can clearly see changes that have taken place in their young man. We have a chance to come together—patient, family, and clinical team—to discuss and practice coping strategies for the post-recovery environment.
This is especially effective if a family has been attending Al Anon or has sought out therapy to help them along their own journey of recovery. It is much easier to feel hopeful, or to at least be willing to let go of expectations, surrounding a young man’s recovery when the whole family is engaged with recovery.
4. Authentic engagement with the patient
We get very specific and concrete with each patient about our recommendations for continuing care. We devote substantial time to addressing his concerns or objections to the plan—we want the patient to articulate his discomfort with the plan so we can address that discomfort immediately with actionable insights we can practice together.
Sometimes the post-recovery environment looks drastically different from the pre-treatment environment, and that can be jarring. We have found that when there are areas that were causing our patient a significant amount of stress—a work, school or family situation that the patient used as the basis for their identity or self-worth to the detriment of his own health—we’ll give him a bit more time to practice his program of recovery in a controlled environment like a halfway house. Likewise, if a patient came from a situation where he had not done the work he was supposed to do, we feel it’s vital to immerse him in an environment where he must immediately become responsible and accountable.
5. Excellent, clinically-sound treatment
It is so important to consider continuing care as an extension of treatment—not an add-on. Good treatment and a good continuing care plan go hand-in-hand and, along with a patient’s dedication and commitment to his sobriety, can ensure the best outcome possible.
At Voyage, we believe good treatment includes addressing a young man’s sense of self, his family relationships, and his environment. We encourage our patients to rely on each other for strength and support, which prepares them to build vital relationships within their own Twelve Step fellowships once they leave us.
Good treatment disrupts old cycles and helps young men build healthy new ones. It addresses destructive or crippling feelings of fear, anger, guilt and shame by bringing them out into the light, and helping patients learn positive coping strategies. Good treatment also builds upon a regimen of trust, honesty, accountability and integrity, which can help prevent a young man from slipping back into old behaviors. By allowing young men to identify where their vulnerabilities are, they own their awareness of triggers and can make better choices.
Talk to us about where you want to take your recovery by calling us at 772-245-8345 or emailing us at

Who can I talk to?

When you’re the family member of a young person struggling with a substance use disorder, life takes on a very different look and feel.
We call addiction the “family disease” because everyone in the family is affected. Do you feel sad, angry, worried, frustrated, disappointed? Do you feel responsible for the pain your child is in, or guilty about the effect this might have on your other children? Do you feel ashamed, embarrassed, or alone?
These are all normal and natural things to feel, and you may feel all of these things at any given time. You and other members of your family might even have radically different feelings. There are no rules here.
When your son begins treatment at Voyage, he’ll immediately have access to a team of skilled and intuitive professionals.
As the person who has been the most profoundly affected by his substance use disorder, what sort of support can you, his family member, count on when he begins treatment?
Who can you talk to?
As your teammates down this rocky road, the various members of your family all want the same thing: a healthy, happy young man who lives up to his potential. However, the feelings that each of you manifest could be as different as night and day. One of you might feel angry while another feels sad; one may feel hopeless while another feels guilty and resentful. This is an important time to go easy on one another, and might be a great time to find someone other than members of your immediate family to process and talk about what’s been going on with your son.
Our family members and friends want the best for us, certainly. They have likely noticed your irritability, depression, or distance and want to help you be yourself again. Again, there are no rules, but people find that even their closest friends and relatives struggle with how to react or respond the information you choose to confide in them. This is totally normal, but it can be frustrating or disappointing when someone can’t provide the support and compassionate feedback you need at this tumultuous time.
Many family members of someone struggling with addiction find a lot of relief attending Al Anon, Nar Anon, or CODA — anonymous fellowships for the friends and family of alcoholics and addicts. Twelve Step groups can be helpful resources for finding support from other adults who have watched someone they love struggle with substance abuse. Members are invited to share their experiences, their strength and their hope, and you’ll be welcome to share at the very first meeting you attend if you like. These groups cannot, however, provide guidance or analysis of your situation.
If you would feel more comfortable with a personalized, hands-on approach to address your needs and your own recovery, an experienced therapist or counselor might really benefit you. Here you can look forward to professional guidance and personalized support. You’ll be able to share anything you choose with your therapist and they’ll help you analyze it, understand it, and grow from it.
At Voyage, we see the entire family as our patient. We know that addiction touches every member of the family. At the same time that your loved one begins treatment at Voyage, you, as his family, will have the support of our team of counselors. We begin with weekly calls, assignments, and assessments where we can address the particular circumstances and obstacles you’ve been facing.
In the second month, we’ll spend an intensive week together as we complete the at our treatment center in Hobe Sound, FL. This is an opportunity for you to address what has happened in your family, and to learn how to recover from it.
The nature of the clinical work we do with you and your loved one is protected by privilege. We don’t discuss with you the exact nature of our work with your family member and likewise won’t discuss with him the exact nature of our work with you. We’ll allow each of you to heal and recover and grow on your own, and to test the mettle of that growth during the latter part of your son’s stay with us.
Who you talk to and what you talk to them about is entirely up to you. You deserve support. Our team is here for you, your family, and your loved one seeking treatment from day one. If you’re not sure who to talk to or where to turn, we can help you find the right place.
Contact us with your questions or concerns at 772-245-8345 or email us at

A kick in the pants

It’s not uncommon for folks to wonder, “Does my kid really need treatment, or does he just need a good dose of discipline?”
Voyage is in the business of providing treatment to young men struggling with addiction, so we’re always going to answer yes, your son does need treatment. This question makes sense, and it speaks to an idea many of us were raised on. Using discipline and consequences simply won’t work for someone with a diagnosed substance use disorder. Understanding this begins with understanding the mechanics of what a substance use disorder or “addiction” is.
First, let’s look at where it begins: in the brain.
Most folks associate dopamine with pleasure, but actually, our brains release dopamine in response to a variety of triggers and can signal that something is important or necessary for survival, not just that it feels good. When that dopamine is released, it creates a reward circuit, a memory of a positive outcome. Once these circuits are formed, the brain is compelled to follow these paths again and again.
Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsively repeating a behavior despite adverse consequences. The compulsion comes from a reward network that recognizes substance use as a rewarding stimuli. Once that circuit is created, where use of a substance is interpreted as a rewarding situation, external stimulus no longer matters. If your brain registers something as positive or pleasurable, whether it’s a substance, food, shopping, or working, it no longer matters if there are negative consequences to that behavior. For someone with a substance use disorder, detrimental outcomes simply don’t register—that’s how powerful the reward circuit is.
Now let’s examine the idea of discipline.
There are many interpretations for ‘discipline’ like hard work, self-denial, obedience to rules, punishment and consequences. Discipline is inherently isolating and without reward. In fact, it’s often quite uncomfortable and in stark contrast to how an individual would choose to get along.
Even the staunchest regimen of discipline will not erase the reward circuits created in the brain through substance use. An individual might learn to suppress those desires, but the compulsion hasn’t gone away.
Learning to abstain from drugs and alcohol isn’t a matter of force or will-power or even desire. A person must literally transform their mind, their body and their environment to achieve sustainable remission.
At Voyage, treatment addresses recovery as a gradual process in which the reward pathways in the brain must be redirected to no longer associate “success” or “rewards” with the use of a substance. That’s why our residence and our program allows for so many daily experiences that register as important and pleasurable. Whether it’s an exploratory session in group, a challenging one-on-one session, or the intensely gratifying experience landing a sailfish.
It’s not that we don’t believe in discipline, because we do. Hard work, adherence to a code of conduct, and being accountable for one’s actions are vital to instilling a sense of structure, consistency and humility in a young man. But we don’t believe in punishing a man for an illness he had no control over.
We help him find the joy in life so that his brain is no longer compelled to reach for a substance. And we help him create a sense of community so that doesn’t feel alone.
Our treatment program consists of individual and group therapy, as well as engaging . These things take men out of their comfort zone while being closely monitored by staff, and push their minds and bodies to accomplish wonderful things and reconnect with their personal values and passions.
We’d love to tell you more about why we believe in a rich and dynamic treatment environment over go-it-alone discipline—call us anytime, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us.

What’s fishing got to do with it?

We often hear this question from parents in one form or another — How is fishing going to get my son sober? What does hiking have to do with recovery? Why does it matter that your patients go kayaking?
The answer is simple: For the pure joy of it.
There is no denying that the journey of recovery involves a lot of hard work—because it does. At Voyage the work of recovery involves countless hours spent sharing in group, or talking with a counsellor one on one, participating in a family session, and even challenging or being challenged by the other men in the house. The men are taught to face their past, to accept responsibility for their actions, and to be accountable for the ways in which they have harmed themselves and their relationships with others. They prepare themselves to meet the expectations of life in the context of their parents and family, their teachers, teammates, coaches and schools, their friends and partners, and so many more. Most importantly, the men at Voyage learn how to face these pressures and expectations without relying on an escape by using drugs or alcohol.
The time we spend outdoors, whether it’s trekking through Jonathan Dickinson Park, paddling up the Indian River, or wading flats with a spinning rod, is time the men spend reconnecting with themselves. They find beauty in the world again, savor moments of triumph over discomfort and adversity, feel a genuine sense of wonder and curiosity in their heart again.
The time we spend with our men in the beautiful wilds of Florida allows them to forget for a moment their obligations to their family or their school, to set aside worry about graduation or career, to see themselves not as a son or a brother or a student or a teammate, but as a man, an individual who has a place in a much bigger picture. In coming to know themselves in this way, the men find in living again. They come to understand the things that make life and sobriety worth fighting for.
Every outing presents our clinical staff with a new opportunity to observe and engage with patients in a setting that goes beyond traditional therapeutic environments. These activities give the men and our counselors a context in which to understand their feelings and perceptions. Each moment the men spend reconnecting with themselves and finding joy in activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol brings them another step closer to lifelong sobriety.
You can read more about our approach to Experiential Programming here, or contact our Admissions team to learn more.

Welcome to the Voyage blog

Our team travels around the country talking to respected clinicians -- therapists, psychiatrists, collegiate recovery directors, program directors, interventionists and others -- with an aim to tell more folks about our program, but also to hear about what professionals in our industry are saying.
How is our industry really serving our population of young people struggling with substance use disorders and their families, and where could we do better? What programs are helping folks find lasting and joyful recovery, and what's their secret? What do our own alumni appreciate most about their time with us, and how can we improve on that experience for future patients?
When we're at home, we're answering calls from parents -- moms and dads who are emotionally and mentally exhausted by worrying about their child, family members and loved ones who are about ready to give up on a young man who they have watched struggle for months and even years.
We're passionate about the work we do at Voyage Recovery Center, and we want to share that passion with you through the stories, the memories, the hopes and the dreams of our staff, our patients and our alumni.
Whether you're the parent of a young man struggling with a substance use disorder or a professional in the recovery industry, I hope you enjoy the words and pictures we share in the space, and I hope you call us for a no-obligation chat about how we can help you or someone in your care find lifelong remission from addiction.
Call us or email us anytime at 772-245-8345 or