the phoenix recovery centre

last thursday, i had the great fortune of meeting michael wilson of the newly created phoenix recovery centre in surrey, just southeast of vancouver.

a friend of mine, who has a little contract job there, had told me about it and said that i absolutely had to see it. so when i drove there, i thought i was well-prepared for something a bit out of the ordinary.


it’s out of the ordinary alright.

where to start?

first, when i arrived at the physical building i thought, oh, they must be somewhere at the back of the building because at the front, there’s a florist’s and coffee shop. phoenix recovery centre, surrey

it turns out the shop is phoenix’s social enterprise. that’s the one that sits beside their spiffy cafeteria, something that you’d only expect of a betty ford-type treatment centre, not of one that costs funders one-third less per person than governments spend every year on a homeless person.

“we wanted to disrupt the idea of what a recovery centre is, right when you first come in,” said michael wilson.

they were certainly successful in disturbin my ideas. what else is disrupted at phoenix?

the habits of alcohol and drug use, of course. but, even more interestingly, michael wilson and his gang want to disrupt old ways of doing that.

among us counsellors, the word “empowerment” gets thrown around a lot; it has become quite cheap currency. the people at phoenix seem committed to return real value to it. having a social enterprise there is proof of that already – but one plan that really intrigues me is michael’s idea to have phoenix alumni teach what they have learned to the community at large.

in recovery, people learn much, much more than how not to drink/shoot up/overspend (or whatever – pick your favourite addiction). that’s sometimes not known by those who have not gone through the hell of addiction and made it out alive.

look at phoenix’s mission statement:

[phoenix’s] modified therapeutic community is a multi-dimensional model that views substance abuse problems as disorders of the whole person and his or her functioning rather than defining characteristics. our program and services focus on promoting health rather than focusing on deficits and aim at involving people in enhancing their physical, mental, social and spiritual health by teaching the self-care and mutual support skills that will allow them to manage daily living responsibly.

health promotion. whole-person thinking. focusing on assets rather than deficits. mutual support.

these are things everyone can benefit from.

i have a hunch i’ll be writing quite a bit more about this exciting project in the months to come …

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

(this post appears in the 5th carnival of all substances)

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