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Like Phoenix Risen from the Ashes of Addiction, A New Addiction Recovery Program

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

people engaged in downhill skiingThere is a new, exciting and very effective community for those recovering from any of the addictions. It is called Phoenix Multisport and can be found on the Internet at the following url:

Here is their mission statement:

"Phoenix Multisport fosters a supportive, physically active community for individuals who are recovering from alcohol and substance abuse and those who choose to live a sober life. Through such pursuits as climbing, hiking, running, swimming, road and mountain biking, and other activities, we seek to help our members develop and maintain the emotional strength they need to stay sober."

The dynamic people who founded this organization, all in recovery themselves, identified a gap in the treatment process of those who are attempting to get and remain sober. The gap occurs after discharge from drug and alcohol rehab centers. Those in recovery find themselves out of the hospital, out of the treatment centers, alone at home, and back in their communities of origin. There is no aftercare treatment for them for a variety of reasons, most of them economic in nature. Most people, after having survived drug and alcohol addiction, find themselves overwhelmed with debt, completely penniless and feeling quite vulnerable, lonely and fragile. Added to all of this, there is also the problem of social isolation. Isolation, boredom, depression, all take their toll. It does not take long to fall back into substance abuse and the addictive life style. These are plain and simple facts about the problems associated with recovery and are not a matter of opinion.

For the past three years, Phoenix Multisport has been there to fill the gap. Here is the way it works:

Many of the treatment facilities are now intimately aware of this organization. Representatives from Phoenix meet with patients about to be discharged and are made aware of the program at Phoenix. In fact, this is not the only way people in recovery can get involved in Phoenix. Their reputation has spread by word of mouth and anyone who wants to live sober can come to them and participate.

The program at Phoenix is not graduated, meaning that there are not steps. Everyone is equal and remains equal.

There is no cost connected with full participation in the program. They rely soley and completely on contributions.

Their goal is to end isolation and maintain sobriety, regardless of the drug or drugs of choice, through sports activities. These activites range from cycling to mountain climbing, to hang gliding and ice climbing and every other sport imaginable.

A person does not have to be in good physical condition, nor do they have to be young. The activities are not restricted to once per week but are constantly ongoing. The staff not only provides instruction, but goes with groups, guiding, teaching and encouraging people as they struggle to master a sport. There is never a limit and training is never completed because, as people master the simple and elementary challenges, they move upward to more difficult challenges. Always, there is the staff, present, encouraging, teaching, helping and pushing people. All of this occurs in groups and a real sense of camaraderie takes place.

What are the results of the program?

1. Social isolation is ended.
2. People become part of an ever present and very real group of people.
3. The addiction to substances is replaced with addiction to athletics and with addiction to their comrads. Even the most unathletic of people discover new aspects of themselves.

I have met these people and they are impressively optimistic and alive. These are people who not long ago were near death as a result of multiple hospitalizations resulting from over doses, chronic abuse, multiple arrests, prison records, thefts to support their habits, and so on.

As of June 1, 2009, Phoenix had over 800 sober active members in the community. They expect to reach over a thousand members by the end of this year. Already, they have far surpassed estimated target membership numbers for 2009.

By the way, Phoenix publicly states that they hold all twelve step programs in high regard. I happen to know, for a fact, that many members attend AA meetings in conjunction with their Phoenix Multisport involvement.

Phoenix Multisport encourages a sense of team participation and group cohesion as an integral part of their sports activities.

Again, please go to their URL to check them out:

Questions and comments are welcome

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.