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Wilderness retreat gives students in recovery chance to learn from one another

Students from Teen Recovery Solutions in Oklahoma City recently went on a spring wilderness retreat in West Texas with students from a similar substance abuse recovery program in Houston. The trip gave students a chance to share their challenges while developing relationships.
by Bryan Painter Modified: April 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm •  Published: April 13, 2013

A mountain could be considered an obstacle.

A wilderness might be viewed as a place of loneliness.

But students of Teen Recovery Solutions in Oklahoma City recently traveled to the Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas to face their challenges in a remote setting with teens from Houston who also are recovering from alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Mike Maddox, clinical director at Teen Recovery Solutions, went to Houston last summer to observe a program that stresses good peer involvement through positive social activities. The model was created to address the teens' social, psychological and emotional issues. That visit established a connection between the two programs.

So in March, about 40 students from the Texas program and six students, two recovery coaches and Maddox, all from Teen Recovery Solutions, met in the mountains for a spring wilderness retreat. Part of the focus was to share not only time together hiking, but honesty.

“The retreats are kind of rewards, but also ways for the kids to connect with other recovering teens and just get away,” Maddox said. “They try to get closer with a spiritual connection in recovery and develop other relationships with other recovering teens.”

Michael and McKenna, students at Teen Recovery Solutions, had separate moments when they were by themselves and experienced the spiritual connection they had sought.

Although those moments came in solitude, students also were asked to work together in activities such as making camp.

Among the most powerful experiences were recovery meetings at a campfire.

“Those were probably the best I've ever been to,” Michael said. “I think part of it was because we were all generally the same age. You're around people generally in the same situation. They know where you are coming from.”

McKenna listened as teens shared struggles in their recovery.

“There was one night when five to less than 10 people came out with honesty about their relapse,” she said. “I thought that was really cool because you know that's hard to just say in front of a lot of people. They hadn't told anybody. There was just so much honesty.”

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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