Can I Start Again?

Patients find treatment, healing and compassion at Charlie’s Place Recovery Center.

By: Nancy Zuniga 

I was sitting in a boardroom at Charlie’s Place Recovery Center, a visitor among a mixed group. There were staff, board members and potential board members, and then there was one nervous woman waiting to tell her story. Her name will remain anonymous, and what she had to say held the room silent.

This was her third time at Charlie’s Place. You might think, ‘Well, it’s not a very successful place, is it?’ She went on to say that the first time, she admitted herself because her family begged her to go. The second time, too. But this, her third time, she was hoping to be successful, because she had finally come to terms with her substance use disorder.

She talked about her time at Charlie’s Place – how the staff treated her like a normal person. (Of course they did, right?) Outside of those walls, she had faced dismay, disapproval and disregard. She was not worth the time. At Charlie’s Place, she was made to feel she was worth every minute. From food service to group session, she was being fed the right information to understand her disorder.

When we think of the word, “addiction,” there is a negative connotation. In the dictionary, it says, “the condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit, especially compulsive dependency on narcotic drugs.” Upwards of 20 million Americans face addiction to drugs and alcohol, and most don’t seek treatment.

If you were suffering from chest pain, you would seek treatment – and no one would judge you or whisper about where you’ve been. Why is there a stigma attached to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, but not to the addiction of sugar for diabetics? Or to unhealthy living for someone with heart disease?

You might think, ‘Well, they chose to do drugs, so they had it coming.’ And yet, with other medical and chronic illness, we can openly discuss what led to the condition, whether it was hereditary or self-induced. Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a medical condition. Period. With proper medical attention and a commitment to a lifestyle change, it is treatable.

Charlie’s Place Recovery Center opened its doors in 1965 as a halfway house for alcoholics. Charlie Acklen, the founder, took care of many of the men who found their way to the house, and he himself was a recovering alcoholic. There was no medical treatment at that time. It was a passionate group of volunteers who cared for and helped those who sought healing.

Now, 52 years later, Charlie’s Place Recovery Center treats roughly 2,000 patients a year. Services range from residential detoxification (supervised by licensed medical staff who monitor the progress of cleansing the body of toxins) to residential recovery support (for graduates transitioning back into the community). There is a science to the treatment, and a heavy dose of compassion – one of the few places their patients will find it.

If this article is moving something for you or for someone else, call Charlie’s Place. There’s a place to restart, no matter how many times it takes.

For more information, contact Charlie’s Place Recovery Center at 361-826-5350 (24-hour) or 877-267-8110 (toll free).

Photo courtesy of Charlie’s Place Recovery Center