A Family Bonded by Recovery

By The Fix staff 06/18/19

Close connections with peers and an individualized support plan can help people stay sober.

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Residents at Came to Pass on a hike
Came to Pass

Few people like being open and vulnerable, especially in front of a large group of strangers. And yet, that’s what many recovery programs demand in group therapy, where clients are expected to bear their faults and mistakes to the group. Even in individual therapy, people at large treatment centers might feel like just one among many.

Came to Pass, a treatment center in Flagstaff, Arizona, aims to provide an alternative to this. Came to Pass works with only six clients at a time, providing intensely personal treatment that facilitates a familial bond among clients and a trust between clients and staff.

“We purposely fostered that small community because we believe it has many advantages,” says Graciela Del Moral, program director at Came to Pass.

A Welcoming Environment For People With Co-occurring Disorders

Most people who need treatment for substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental illness, or a trauma history. This can make it hard for them to engage in treatment, especially in a larger setting. For these people, the small, intimate environment at Came to Pass is especially valuable, says Suzanne Botello, PhD, LPC, a clinician at the treatment center.

“People with trauma tend to be hyper-vigilant and hypersensitive in terms of sympathetic arousal,” she explains. “The small size of Came to Pass allows for a calmer environment that promotes peace of mind, mindful awareness, and support in the way of process and content groups.”

The small size means that there is not an overwhelming amount of outside stimulation. That allows people to ease into the rhythm of the house and to feel personally invested, not just like they are “one of many,” Botello said.

Relearning Healthy Relationships

The boutique size at Came to Pass also allows clients to relearn the dynamics of healthy relationships. Living with a small group and completing activities together regularly creates a bond, says Del Moral. This has time to develop and grow, since clients are asked to commit to six months of treatment at Came to Pass.

“They are given the opportunity to be trusted, and peers depend on each other for accomplishing goals as a whole,” Del Moral said. “This dynamic provides residents with ownership for their actions and they begin to gain self confidence through their accomplishments.”

S.S., a parent of a client who has been at Came to Pass for about three months, has seen that change first-hand in their son. Their son liked the fact that many of the team members at Came to Pass had been through recovery themselves.

“He needed a community of people who could relate to where he has been. The staff at Came to Pass who have been through recovery have connected with our son in a way no one else could have,” S.S. says.

Focus on Physical, Mental and Emotional Health

As part of healing and wellness, Came to Pass focuses on physical fitness. Clients take advantage of hiking in the beautiful nature of the Southwest that surrounds Flagstaff. They also participate in activities ranging from biking to disc golf to Crossfit.

This isn’t just important for physical fitness, but for reintroducing healthy habits and coping mechanisms.

“People with substance abuse issues often lose their knowledge, motivation, or ability to participate in healthy activities,” says Botello. “They are used to drinking or using chemicals to grieve, to celebrate, out of boredom, habit, or dependency. After years of living this way, people in recovery are tasked to learn to live and enjoy life without the use of drugs or alcohol. Replacing bad habits with good habits helps to make for a more realistic and comprehensive recovery.”

It also gives clients a chance to push their boundaries and overcome fear in a safe environment, Del Moral said.

“These activities can be utilized as either recreational outings or therapeutic ones,” she explains. “Residents overcome many fears: fear of heights, fear of not being able to perform or fear of being without a shower for certain amount of days or hours. Almost every challenge presented in front of the residents has the potential to become an exercise of recovery or a way for them to fall back into old behaviors.”

When clients leave Came to Pass they can connect with fitness-oriented communities like Crossfit gyms wherever they settle. This gives them a framework for continuing healthy habits and meeting like-minded people, even in a new area.

Taken together, the group size, family dynamic and focus on physical activity at Came to Pass help people like S.S.’s son obtain sobriety, often for the first time.

“He came as a very broken and lost individual,” S.S. says. “Half way through the program we are seeing him make decisions that will help him heal and move forward in life far more than we have seen in the past nine years.”

Came to Pass is a small residential treatment center in Flagstaff, Arizona. Learn more online or by calling 928-864-9702.

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