Reconnecting With Recovery

By The Fix staff 12/13/17
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Dan Anderson Renewal Center provides rejuvenation and spiritual renewal.
The living room of the Dan Anderson Renewal Center

Maintaining focus and clarity during long-term recovery can be difficult, but it is essential for sustained sobriety, no matter how many years have passed since you put down your drug of choice. Attending meetings and staying involved with 12-step fellowships is a great way to incorporate recovery into your daily life, but often people are left wanting more.

In 1984, alumni from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation realized they wanted a place dedicated to spiritual renewal, where they could reconnect with the recovery journey throughout their lives.

“They wanted to be able to revisit the origins of their recovery, continue to take a breath, and continue to heal,” says Paul Anderson, the manager for the Dan Anderson Renewal Center on the campus of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Center City, Minnesota.

The renewal center was born from the effort of that group of alumni and has been hosting people in recovery for more than 30 years now. The center offers a Lodge Recovery Program, which focuses on examining the tenets of 12-step philosophy, as well as weekend retreats with different topics throughout the year.

“The purpose of the recovery center is to provide not just alumni but all people in recovery a place to come and slow their pace down in order to rejuvenate their spirit and their recovery programs,” says Anderson, who is no relation to Dan Anderson, former president of the foundation for whom the recovery center is named.

The recovery center offers a variety of ways to reconnect with recovery, from group sessions to meditation and presentations on recovery-related topics like codependency, grief and forgiveness.

Anderson says that the recovery center is meant for people who are struggling with their recovery as well as those who are in a stable place but want to facilitate continued personal growth.

“One of the most dangerous things about recovery is that once we stop drinking and drugging and discontinue destructive patterns we quickly start to feel miraculously better,” he says. “It’s human nature that once we feel better there’s less of a feeling of necessity to do things that support our change.”

Anyone who has been in recovery for a significant period of time knows that there are rich times, when everything is going well, and there are times when we get into relapse patterns, beginning to dance with unhealthy behaviors that could derail our progress. A trip to the renewal center is a way to strengthen connection to recovery through both.

“This process really is about restoring the relationship to ourselves, others and something greater,” Anderson says. “When we think about active addiction we’re really talking about a soul sickness. Typically people who struggle with addiction are trying to address a hole in us the shape of God that we try to fill with everything except that.”

A weekend to focus on recovery can help fill that void, reconnecting people to their higher power.

“Recovery is really is about the resiliency we experience when we tap into our spiritual selves in the process of reclaiming our soul that has been impacted in addictive relationships,” Anderson says.

Many people attend the recovery center yearly, although others visit when they can or when they need to.

In addition to the group work and individual healing, Anderson said that important fellowship is forged during the unstructured times when guests are free to chat with each other.

“A lot of benefit takes place in between group times, when you have individuals sitting around having a cup of coffee and talking about hopes and dreams and suffering of their lives,” he said. “Although your journey is very individual and separate, you’re involved in collective consciousness of individuals who are like-minded in their pursuit of growth.”

The recovery center is open to anyone who is involved with a 12-step program and is not limited to those who have chemical dependency. Financial assistance is available and can be discussed by calling the renewal center.

Next summer the renewal center will be hosting a family retreat that is open to children 12 and older. The retreat will focus on learning how to have fun as a family in healthy ways, something Anderson is excited to see unfold.

“We know how to suffer as a family, but once we start to embark on getting well, how do we reconnect and learn to have fun in the absence of addiction,” he said.

Whether it is families touched by addiction or individuals looking to strengthen their healing, everyone who comes to the Dan Anderson Renewal Center can expect to reconnect with the fellowship of recovery.

“You’re immersed within a community, and that becomes therapeutic and beneficial in understanding that you’re not alone,” Anderson says.

Get more information on the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation here, and connect with the organization on Facebook. See upcoming retreats at the Dan Anderson Renewal Center here.

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