Empty Gifts | Community

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By Jessica Brothers

During this season, so many images and commercials focus on gathering with friends and family, yet so many people feel alone. Addiction is often a catalyst to loneliness, preventing the gift of community.

Not at our Women’s Recovery Center.

At MARR, we treat addiction to alcohol and other substances. Like many other programs, we utilize the 12-Step model, provide group and individual therapy, family therapy, medical support, recovery education, relapse prevention, and every possible strategy to help them achieve recovery.

But the critical difference is the value and importance we place on community. The community model is the heart and soul of MARR.  The community, and ultimately the connection the ladies get from that, is the power of treatment at MARR.

Women come to the center for a minimum of 90 days; they live with one-another in a home like setting, attend programming five days a week with scheduled activities on weekends. Interestingly, most think that living with other women whom they don’t know will be either very distressing or almost impossible. Often, as part of their addiction, they have isolated; or, if they moved into an addiction early in life, they literally never learned how to make or be a friend. For many, their closest relationship has been with drugs.

The community becomes the primary agent of change. This relationship is facilitated from day one, by stressing the similarities between them, not their differences. Several assignments must be presented first to the group; the group must then provide feedback and sign off on the assignment. In this way, the ladies validate each other’s life experiences.

Not surprisingly, input is often received differently from a peer. Essentially, the ladies have more ‘street cred’ with each other. The bond far transcends that of merely being supportive. These ladies share their hearts and souls, tragedies and triumphs, compassion and pain; whether there are eight or 15 ladies, they are all on this journey called recovery together.

Learning the skill of connection-building serves our ladies long after they leave the center. MARR’s Alumni Association continues to provide the connection and strength of the community for a lifetime. Also, knowing that they formed connections while in treatment gives them the confidence required to establish a recovery network in the 12-Step community.

The beauty and power of community lives on every day.

Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss. . . .

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