Facing Fear on the Road to Recovery

By The Fix staff 08/18/17

Many experienced surfers report a feeling of deep serenity and spirituality being in harmony with the ocean.

Logo saying Florida Surf Film Festival

As much as we may deny it, fear plays an important role in every person’s life. Learning to cope with and face our fears is a natural skill set we develop over time. Unfortunately, as a result of escapism through drugs and alcohol, addicts often have an even harder time with this. In the spirit of facing fear, Florida-based rehab Serenity Springs Recovery Center is partnering with local organizations in New Smyrna Beach to immerse clients in the world of surfing.

The Florida Surf Film Festival (FSFF) is a gathering designed to promote artistic appreciation, showcase surf culture, and to screen a range of contemporary films with surfing as their main focus. Those looking for a preview of the event can buy tickets for shows from the 17th to the 19th of August. The full festival, however, comes to town on November 10th and 11th in New Smyrna Beach at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, November 16th in Cocoa Beach at the Surfside Playhouse, and November 17th in Orlando at The Abbey. Tickets for the pre-event are currently available through Eventbrite.

The show dates back to December 2012, each year handing out awards for documentaries, shorts and feature films alike. The festival was founded by Kevin Miller and John Brooks, a CPA and a former professional surfer, respectively. Serenity Springs Recovery Center is set to have a booth at the show for all three days of the event, among other sponsors and partners including Monster Energy and Surfline. The partnership between Serenity Springs Recovery Center and FSFF is rooted at least partially in Serenity Springs’ own appreciation and use of surfing in its treatment programs.

The facility offers a full range of treatment programs for clients seeking recovery, namely an amino acid detox, intensive outpatient programming and a men’s residential treatment program. In addition to its full continuum of evidence-based and holistic treatment services, men in residential treatment also participate in a range of physical activities as well. These include beach volleyball, basketball, kayaking, fishing, golfing and surfing trips to local beaches several times a week.

The process of deciding to get sober is often fraught with fears that life will not be as exciting or that it won’t be sustainable. Through its partnership with the FSFF, Serenity Springs Recovery Center hopes to change the conversation, remove stigma from the recovery process and show clients and the local community at large that a life of sobriety can be as exciting and fulfilling as any other.

Surfing itself is perhaps a fitting metaphor for the recovery process and for Serenity Springs’ approach to recovery in general. Though the program includes a range of psychiatric care services, EMDR therapy, professionally prepared meals and holistic care like yoga and acupuncture, many principles of 12-step recovery are also used.

In the 12 steps, clients are taught to embrace a spiritual connection, finding a higher power that helps see them through the recovery process. This approach dovetails nicely with the spirit of surfing, a sport that comes with a huge element of uncertainty. Many experienced surfers report a feeling of deep serenity and spirituality being in harmony with the ocean—a valuable trait in New Smyrna Beach, which may be the shark bite capital of the world. Still, finding recovery and spiritual connection just might be worth the risk.

For more info about Serenity Springs Recovery Center, please call 386-423-4540, email, or visit them on Facebook.

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