Attending an Addiction or Alcoholism Retreat Center for Spirituality

Attending an Addiction or Alcoholism Retreat Center for Spirituality

Beautiful sunbeams

This is sort of new market that has sprung up after the substance abuse community had already established 12 step based rehabs.  The idea of a retreat center for spirituality or “rejuvenation” for recovery from addiction or alcoholism is that you might go check in some where even when you do not need medical help for your addiction.

I think part of the idea with these places is that the rehabs are thinking to themselves “How can we expand our consumer market?  We have the struggling drug addicts and alcoholics coming here, but how can we get people who are already clean and sober to attend our rehab as well?”  To me it just seems like a marketing-driven idea, to attempt to get sober people to come to rehab for “rejuvenation” or “insurance against relapse.”  I have even seen that some of these retreat centers say that in their brochure, that one of the benefits of coming there is to help prevent relapse.

So I am not so sure that I agree with this idea, or in how it meshes with creative recovery.  The fact is that I believe in treatment, and I even believe strongly in long term treatment, as that is what finally worked for me.  So I am definitely pro-rehab, I think it makes sense to go to treatment, to spend whatever time and money is necessary to get your addiction arrested and to get your life back.  There really is no price that is too high to pay in order to escape the cycle of addiction.

With that said, why am I against the idea of a spiritual retreat, one that brings recovering people together and also costs a lot of money?  I think the bottom line is that I am sort of against the idea for the same reason that I am against a lifetime regime of daily 12 step meetings: I frown on the idea of dependence in recovery.  I dislike the idea of a fear based approach to recovery: keep coming to these meetings or you will relapse and die.  It is the same thing essentially with the recovery retreats: come to our retreat and you can help prevent the threat of relapse.

They are selling “insurance” against relapse in the form of paid spirituality, in a way.  Now that might be a bit of a harsh view because I am sure that many of these retreats are very worthwhile and that people do get a lot out of them.  But the same can be said for 12 step meetings too, and I am basically against those.

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I realize it is not fair to be so negative against an idea without proposing alternatives. I would suggest in this case that recovery take on a more individualistic path, one that is not dependent on groups, retreats, meetings, or social gatherings. If you depend on such things to keep you clean and sober then your recovery is not as solid as it could otherwise be.

My suggestion is to develop a plan in recovery that involves you pushing yourself to grow personally as a means of achievement and of growth.  From what I have observed in my own life and that of others is that the path of personal growth is the strongest method of relapse prevention.  This path of growth does not necessarily depend on others, or on groups, or on meetings.  Now it could involve some of that stuff, but if you are truly pushing yourself to grow and to make the hard changes, I do not believe you will become dependent on social interaction as a means of maintaining recovery.

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