Taking Clients Beyond the Basics

By The Fix staff 10/30/17

A six-month transition program aims to equip young men for life after rehab.

A group of men in hiking gear with mountains in the background.

Back2Basics Outdoor Adventure Therapy is a hybrid young adult treatment modality that combines wilderness therapy and traditional residential inpatient treatment, where clients can spend up to six months exploring the scenic landscape of the Southwest, while participating in therapy and grappling with their addiction. When that initial program is finished most clients have changed immensely, but few of the young men who come through the program are ready to jump into a career, apartment and other adult responsibilities.

“We continue to support these guys to get out there and build on a foundation that had been installed the first 6 months so they’re progressing and sustainable rather than crashing and burning,” says Roy DuPrez, who founded the Flagstaff, Arizona treatment center. DuPrez had been approached by therapists and Back2Basics alumni families early on who suggested that most of his clients would sustainably thrive with structured aftercare, which is why he developed Beyond The Basics, a six-month transitional program that helps young men in early recovery work toward long-term goals like higher education, entry level employment and a career.

“We continue to have the same principal tenets: therapy and participant accountability within the Back2Basics community,” DuPrez says, noting that clients attend regular 12 step meetings, employment and undertake internships or some pursue vocational training during their participation at Beyond the Basics. “It’s a little more independent for them but still guided and structured.”

Brad Jones, 27, is a Back2Basics success story. During his time in the transitional program he started an internship that eventually led to a career working in the recovery industry. He graduated from the program in 2013 and is now the supervisor at Beyond the Basics.

“For me, the internship I did during the transitional program built up the idea I can be of use to more than just myself,” he says. “I realized that my past isn’t a deficit. It builds credibility with the clients.”

About 90 percent of young men who complete Back2Basics opt to do the transitional program. During the six months of transition they gradually earn more freedom. However, drug testing ensures that everyone stays on track with their sobriety or quickly receives the help they need.

“We’re a safety net for them as they explore the world in their new sober lifestyle, and if they struggle we’re here to help them up,” says Francisco Rendon, the program director at Beyond the Basics. The main goal of the program, he says, is to build client’s self-motivation and confidence in their abilities.

“The aim of Back2Basics is to get them acclimated in a sober sustainable recovery from drugs and alcohol, then we further guide them to learn how to create the needed self-sufficiency, and how to be accountable for themselves,” he says.

One way that Rendon and the other staff do that is by allowing clients to make mistakes along the way.

“We give them the opportunity to break the rules and get into situations to where we can start getting them to practically apply what they’ve learned,” Jones explains. Obviously that comes with limits: breaking curfew is one thing; relapse is something much more serious, and is handled as such.

However, Jones says that learning to get out of trouble using healthy, adult solutions is an important lesson for many of the men in the program.

“If we insulate them all the time from things that are uncomfortable in their jobs, school or life in general, we’re robbing them of having natural experience and learning how to practice those tools,” he says. “If they relapse we stop it. Everything else we give them space to apply their own thinking. If they make the right decision, that’s good. If they don’t that’s an opportunity for work and an opportunity for us to guide them.”

During the first few months of Beyond The Basics, clients focus on finding a job, making some money, and learning to balance sobriety with the demands of living outside a treatment center. As clients become more comfortable with that, the staff pushes them to think about larger questions.

“Now that you have solid sobriety, what do you want from your life long-term?” Jones asks.

Once clients have a goal, whether it is returning to school or securing a job, the staff help them work toward that. DuPrez says that a little push and tough love is what many of his clients need to succeed.

“The guys who come to our program generally meet a certain criteria of limited self awareness and the ability to follow through,” he says. “We’re trying to get them to a place that most adults are already at. We push them in direction where they will be able to develop themselves and be successful.”

Get more information on Back2Basics Outdoor Adventure Therapy and Beyond The Basics at www.back2basicsoutdooradventures.com, or visit them on Facebook.

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