“When I first came to Guiding Light I was pretty broken and battered. I had no idea what to expect. I was a little worried being the young guy that I wouldn’t be able to relate to anyone.”
Gabe is 24 years old and has been a client at Guiding Light Recovery for a little over a month. He came through our doors after he found himself at the end of his rope, again, with regards to his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Gabe could be considered what is often called a “chronic relapser” and has been to several other residential substance-abuse treatments centers already in his relatively short lifespan. But there is something he has found at Guiding Light that he has never gotten anywhere else; a call to action. “I had been to other treatment centers and the difference here is that they keep you really busy with things like classes, spiritual direction, therapy, group exercises, homework, and working with your sponsor. They give you direction, but it’s really on you. You have to figure it out for yourself about what you want your life to look like, how you are going to map things out. They don’t tell you what to do. The staff forced me to think a lot deeper about myself and think about why I am here, but more importantly, what am I going to do about it?”
At Guiding Light we follow a philosophy that every man deserves a chance to live up to his God-given potential. Unlike many other treatment programs, there is zero tolerance for men that do not take it seriously. Addiction, for countless men and women around the world, is truly a life and death circumstance and is treated as such at Guiding Light. The Recovery program is also not beholden to any financial incentives to keep clients enrolled, and our staff does not hesitate to turn away men that are not willing to change. This is an important part of why it works, and also why Gabe was initially taken aback by how deadly serious our program is. “It’s the most challenging one I have been to for sure. You know I can say all I want to myself ‘oh this is the one where I am going to change, this time is going to be different.’ But this program, unlike any other place I have been to, is action based. You know it doesn’t matter how much knowledge or classes or therapy you get if you don’t take the action to apply all of that and change your own life.”
One of the single biggest reasons for Guiding Light’s relatively high success rate (76% of clients that complete the program achieve a year of sobriety or longer) is that it forces men to take personal responsibility for their own sobriety and recovery. Men are taught, or sometimes forced, to stand on their own two feet and take charge of their own destiny. One thing Gabe found particularly helpful was how Guiding Light requires clients to get a 12-step sponsor and to call them every day within the first fourteen days of being accepted into the program. Getting a sponsor is a big first step that many in early recovery are very reluctant to take, but is an immensely important requisite, we believe, to taking sobriety seriously. Gabe’s sponsor today actually went through Guiding Light Recovery himself only a year ago.
Gabe is grateful for all of the donors and supporters who keep Guiding Light open for himself and others out there still sick and suffering. “It’s important to remember the things that I can easily take for granted that those donations go to, it keeps us warm, it gives us a bed to sleep in, keeps us fed and provides us with a good staff that really knows what they are doing. If this place wasn’t here there would be a lot of people, myself included, who wouldn’t have this opportunity and would keep falling back into the same cycle over and over again, I don’t want to go down that road anymore.” Guiding Light offers a space for young men like Gabe to get their life back on track while they still can. At his age, and after two months in the Recovery program, Gabe is on track to live a long and productive life free from the bondage of drugs and alcohol. It is important that men are coming through 255 Division Avenue at increasingly younger ages, because the sooner they are able to turn their lives around, the more good they are themselves ultimately able to pay forward to their community.
Thank you for giving men like Gabe the time, the space, and the hope they need to better themselves and change their path in life. Thank you for helping us to bring Grand Rapids men out of the darkness and into the light here, God bless.
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17