Everyone knows men hate to open up about their feelings with the opposite sex, right? Now just imagine those same shut-down, reticent men placed in a co-ed rehab setting. Wonder why none of them have their hands up to share?
Recovery Road, a substance-abuse and gambling-addiction treatment facility in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., commits itself to helping men—and men alone—for that very reason. Says the rehab’s website, “We believe that the individuals in our care should be able to share with and learn from their peers in a setting where they don’t have to worry about being judged as providers, fathers, husbands, or boyfriends.”
And that’s who comes here for the 30-day program (there’s also a 90-day option), with the mostly straight white, black and Jewish “brothers in recovery” ranging in age from their early 20s to mid-50s. Said one former resident, “They were from completely different backgrounds”—from jobless to lawyers, broke to six-figure salaries—“but we got along very well.”
That’s a good thing, because you can’t hide out from your fellow residents (16 people max) at the end of a long day of group therapy, rapid trauma resolution, job and vocational counseling, hypnotherapy and 12-step meetings, plus yoga and twice-a-week one-on-one psychotherapy sessions: Everyone shares a two-bedroom apartment with up to three roommates. Treatment takes place at a facility about a mile away from the living quarters, and residents are shuttled back and forth in two 15-passenger vans and one mini-van.
Back at the residence, each apartment has two bathrooms, both with shower and tub; a washer and dryer; and a flat-screen TV with cable. You can watch TV as much as you want in the early morning, during lunch and after the nightly meeting, while using the house phone is somewhat less at your discretion—once to twice a week (and not at all during your first week in residence), pending approval from rehab staff. And you’ll have to detox entirely from email: There’s no Internet allowed at all.
Chores-wise, you have to make your bed daily and, along with your roomates, keep the apartment clean. While the prospect of collective living and housekeeping gives some people pause, generally it works out well. “I had never lived with someone and expected a disaster,” reported one alum. “Far from it. I learnt to live with someone.”
Another thing you’re going to have to learn how to do is follow the rules—which, so long as you’re “willing and behaved,” aren’t that onerous. But repeat offenders will be dealt with. One resident said, “There was one fellow who had to sign a contract”—after running afoul of the rehab law—“and on the next time [he broke that rule] he was asked to leave.”
That’s consistent with what people say about Recovery Road being somewhat strict, yet compassionate. “They give ‘tough love’ in a loving and understanding way,” said one man. This middle way carries through to religion, as well, with no specific faith being imposed on anyone—rather just an emphasis on spirituality “and a higher power other than me,” as one former resident noted. That said, you do have to choose between attending one of two groups led twice a week by a rabbi and pastor; you can’t just decline to attend either of them.
As for physical, rather than spiritual, sustenance, once a week the rehab takes everybody grocery shopping, with $100 to spend per person. With their purchases, everybody makes their own lunches and dinners for the week. Breakfast—cereal, oatmeal and coffee—is provided.
Continuing the theme of “simple living,” as one former resident described his stay here, most guys whip up solid, nutritious staples such as steak, potatoes, eggs, chicken and pasta. A plus for observant Jewish clients: Recovery Road provides “great kosher catering.” Some non-Jewish rehabbers have even gone on the kosher plan simply because they didn’t want to bother with cooking.
Even if you and your roommates choose to carb out on meals, there’s plenty of activity to keep off the pounds, including the gym three times a week, beach trips, bowling, basketball, horseshoes and more. The rehab does bi-weekly outings to a movie theater or go-karts-and-batting-cages places like Fun Depot or Boomer’s; hosts a barbecue twice a month; and provides twice- to three-times-a-week massage and acupuncture. Medical staff are not in residence at the facility, but Medical Director Dr. Montes, a physician, sees patients at least once a week, and at other times as needed.