Testing Sobriety with the Back2Basics Sober Surf Squad

By The Fix staff 06/26/17

“I came in pretty broken and not confident after failed attempts to get clean. This is the longest I’ve been clean and it’s great."

4 men standing in front of surf boards
Back2Basics Outdoor Adventure Therapy offers a fun, wholesome recovery option for young men. photo via Author

Roy DuPrez was surfing, bobbing in the waters off the Mexican coast with one of his clients from Back2Basics Outdoor Adventure Therapy, the recovery program he founded. His client turned to him and said, “Do you want anything else in life? It looks like you’ve got everything.”

For DuPrez, who has been in recovery for nearly 20 years, the moment epitomized what he hopes to teach young men who are just getting sober: that a fulfilling life in sobriety is entirely possible.

“The fact that I’m successful in any area of my life is a miracle,” DuPrez told The Fix. “I want to share the gifts of being sober.”

That’s why DuPrez regularly takes small groups of clients to his home on the southwest pacific coast of Mexico, where they take surf, Spanish and art lessons, and attend local 12-step meetings.

“This is a good opportunity for me to be with the guys and expose them to what I’ve seen and experienced as the result of being sober,” he said.

On this trip, DuPrez is joined by three clients: one who has been with Back2Basics for five months, one for three months, and one who has only been in recovery for a month. Although the trip is normally reserved for young men who have shown that they are solidly sober and could benefit from pushing themselves into a new situation, DuPrez and the other staff at Back2Basics felt that the new client was a good fit for this group.

The trip to Mexico allows DuPrez to connect with the participants and share experiences of life in recovery, and give clients the chance to test their sobriety in a new environment.

“They guys can use the support and the intimacy, and we as a group try to be more transparent with each other,” he explained.

For Aaron, D., 25, the trip was a chance to travel sober for the first time, reigniting a passion of his.

“I love to travel and it’s something that I’ve done throughout my life, but I haven’t done much of it sober,” he said. “And now I have this opportunity to come down here clean and get new perspective. It’s made me think about things I like to do and want to do in the future, and how I can bring this new sober side of life into those.”

Traveling with Back2Basics allowed him to test the waters in an environment that is still focused on sobriety.

“I was pretty confident that travel was something I’m going to continue to do, and this is the first step into seeing that as an opportunity,” Aaron said.

Experiencing sober travel also made him think about the past.

“I wonder what I missed when I was under the influence,” he said. “It’s making me feel like I missed out on good stuff that could or should have been, but my main priority was getting out of myself, getting messed up.”

Aaron had previously spent time in Mexico partying, so this trip was also the chance to confront a trigger in a healthy way.

“The trees, the beach and the language right off the bat brought me back for a second to where I was last time I was at a place like this,” he said. “I had to rein that in immediately.”

photo via Author

On this trip, rather than focusing on getting drunk or high, Aaron was helping the other young men —who were newer in recovery than he was —to understand the benefits of sobriety.

“These two guys are still on the fence about the long-term sobriety piece, so it’s been a lot of sharing my feelings about what I’ve been through trying to get sober,” Aaron said. “By trying to be available in helping another guy, I help myself.”

Aaron has undergone other treatment programs in the past unsuccessfully, but he said that the Mexico trip is just one way that Back2Basics has built his confidence about living a sober life.

“It’s a self-esteem booster,” he said. “I came in pretty broken and not confident after failed attempts to get clean. This is the longest I’ve been clean and it’s great. It makes me think that sobriety is within the realm of possibilities, that I’m on the right path, and that there are good things that have happened in my life that I can build on.”

Approaching the end of the trip, Aaron was excited to continue creating a life in recovery.

“There’s been a lot of growth,” he said. “This is just another building block for me to continue to push the uphill battle that sobriety has been.”

Back2Basics Outdoor Adventure Therapy is a treatment facility for young men in Flagstaff, Arizona. Get more information at www.back2basics-soberliving.com, and visit them on Facebook.

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