Back From the Edge Thanks to Luminance Recovery

By The Fix staff 03/01/17

When Sean came to Luminance, he was greeted by a small group of highly trained, caring addiction professionals.


On August 15, 2016 Sean’s little sister celebrated her “Sweet 16.” He showed up at the celebration loaded and made a mess of things. The next morning, he tried to apologize, but his family wasn’t having it. His sister wouldn’t even look at him and wouldn’t let him give her a hug. He had finally crossed the line and everybody in his family was as sick of his addiction as he was. Consumed with shame and powerlessness, Sean felt totally alone. A few hours later, he found himself standing on a freeway overpass, contemplating suicide.

His phone rang. He looked down and saw that his dad was calling. He also noticed a text from Michael Castanon, the CEO of Luminance Recovery, in San Juan Capistrano, California, where he had gone to rehab a few months earlier. In that moment, it hit Sean that he wasn’t alone. He realized that people cared about him and wanted to help him in his recovery, but it had to start with him. He returned to Luminance and has been clean and sober since August 16, 2016. 

When Sean came to Luminance, he was greeted by a small group of highly trained, caring addiction professionals. He connected with his therapists and they took a personal interest in him and did everything they could to help him start his recovery. He also found an inspiring group of peers to share the experience with. While at the facility, Sean reconnected with his love of surfing and discovered new passions like rock climbing, just a few of the outdoor therapies Luminance offers its clients.

Even after Sean left treatment the first time, the lessons he learned at Luminance stuck with him. And the relationships he built with the people also remained. He kept in contact with the treatment team and even the CEO founder of the organization, Michael Castanon. Although Sean unfortunately relapsed, it only took a few months before he was hitting bottom again. With the consequences mounting, Sean was desperate and he ended up on that freeway overpass, looking for a way out.

When Sean came back to Luminance, it was like coming home. And he wasn’t the only one who felt that way. While Sean was in the program the second time, two friends from his first stay also returned. The sincere support they felt from the treatment team brought them back and they all made a fresh start together. He threw himself into the program and gave recovery an honest try for the first time in his life.

With the support of his therapists and friends, Sean started to make big changes. Luminance has a strong 12-step component, with residents attending five outside meetings a week, along with an in-house speaker meeting that welcomes alumni. Sean found his sponsor at one of these meetings and began building that relationship. Sean credits the rigorous schedule of meetings, group and individual therapy, beautiful accommodations, great food, surfing, rock climbing and equine therapy with helping him begin to heal.

Each month, Luminance takes clients on a camping trip. For Sean, this was the highlight of his stay and a life-changing experience. The camping retreat solidified his friendships with his follow residents, especially his two best friends who had also returned to the program. On the trip, he shared his entire life story with the group for the first time. He embraced the vulnerability and found that it only made the love run deeper between himself and his fellow recovering addicts and alcoholics.

Today, Sean has six months clean and his life is totally transformed. He credits Luminance Recovery with helping him rediscover a sense of self worth and build a strong foundation for lasting change. Instead of the chaos of addiction, his life is packed with recovery-related activities. He attends an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and just started a new job. He goes to meetings regularly and still attends the weekly Luminance in-house meeting. He is working the steps with the sponsor he found while he was in treatment and enjoys spending time with his tight sponsorship family. He remains close with his two best friends from Luminance, who are still clean. For Sean, this is just the beginning. Thanks to Luminance, he’s making peace with his past and is hopeful about the New Year and his future.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

The Fix staff consists of the editor-in-chief and publisher, a senior editor, an associate editor, an editorial coordinator, and several contributing editors and writers. Articles in Professional Voices, Ask an Expert, and similar sections are written by doctors, psychologists, clinicians, professors and other experts from universities, hospitals, government agencies and elsewhere. For contact and other info, please visit our About Us page.