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A Forever Recovery at the Annual Binder Park “Zoo Boo”

Patients from AFR find out how rewarding a clean and sober lifestyle can be.

Overcoming addiction is much more than just getting clean and sober. Finding the ability to appreciate life and give back to others is a very important part of the recovery process. When a person’s life revolves around drinking or using drugs, they can become very self-centered, and their view of the world is cloudy, gray, and uncaring. But when the effects of substance abuse have begun to lift from their view, people in recovery start to rediscover a sense of appreciation and connection to the people in our lives and the world around us.

The treatment program at A Forever Recovery helps our patients to focus on finding that ability again. As they work through their core program, identifying and addressing the underlying causes of their substance abuse, our patients also participate in various optional programs and supplemental groups that concentrate on various tools and life skills that will help them to remain substance-free after they graduate from our treatment center. These include Relapse Prevention, Art and Music Exploration, Anger Resolution, and many others. Building on the strong foundation provided by the core program, these groups provide the framework for recovery.

Taking it a step further, we also give our patients plenty of opportunity to actually apply these tools and skills in real life situations. At A Forever Recovery, we often seek out various community events and volunteer opportunities for our patients to participate in. This gets them out into the world for a little bit, and with their new outlook on life, they are able to see the beauty in their surroundings. They are able to feel the joy that comes with giving back. And they are able to see the effects that they have on the lives of others.

The AFR facility is located in Battle Creek, a city in Southwest Michigan. The city is also home to the Binder Park Zoo, and every year, Binder Park holds a special Halloween event called the “Zoo Boo”. Hundreds of kids and adults get dressed up in costumes and come out to Binder Park to enjoy games, face painting, and a Trick-or-Treat tour of the zoo. For this year’s “Zoo Boo”, patients and staff from AFR volunteered to go and pass out candy to excited kids.

Jonathan M. was one of the patients who went to Binder Park that day, and as he interacted with other people, he discovered that some of the things he was learning about himself through the AFR rehabilitation program were very useful in the real world. “You dig deep,” he says of his treatment. “You get these tools, and when we get to go out in a setting like that, it can be a place to try and start using those tools. It helped me to gain a new perspective on life, on society, on the way I conduct myself. I look at being out of rehab as an opportunity as opposed to more of a ‘What am I gonna do when I get out?’”

A Forever Recovery also sees this as an educational experience, for both our patients and for the community. Many people have a certain perception or idea of those struggling with addiction, but those perceptions can be far from the truth. All kinds of people can lose control of their lives to substance abuse. It isn’t just the homeless guy drinking from the brown paper bag. Students, teachers, parents, siblings, doctors, farmers, artists, mechanics – any of them can fall victim to drugs and alcohol.

For some reason, however, there is still that certain image that people think of when they think about addiction. It can often keep people from seeking the help that they need for fear of the shame that they imagine they will feel. But there is nothing at all to be ashamed about when trying to find a healthier and more positive path through life. Coming out to join in family friendly community events like the “Zoo Boo” helps tremendously in an effort to remove the preconception that many people have of addiction or those in recovery.

“To be able to go out there and participate in the Zoo Boo, being sober, for me was a great experience,” Jonathan says. “I feel that it is extremely beneficial, not only for us but for the facility and the community. A lot of people who don’t really know much about it have this stigma attached to it that there’s really not a lot of good we can do. So, for us to be able to go out into the community, that’s our opportunity to show that there’s things we can do to give back.”

At A Forever recovery, our program is designed to be a thorough and effective method for our patients to actually overcome their addiction rather than just getting clean and sober. Our patients make a complete lifestyle transformation that helps them to stay clean and sober after they return to their daily lives. They discover the ability to make a difference in the lives of others when they understand the role that they fill in the lives of others.

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