No...not that kind of model.
NorthBound & Co. was established in October 2017. For the past two years we have been researching, traveling, and educating ourselves so that we can bring this idea to life.
We learned of a community in Rimini, Italy called San Patrignano that has been restoring the lives of people suffering from addiction for the past forty years - in doing so we began our journey that changed the way we look at what it is to "treat" addiction.
Treatment model standards here in the United States are derived upon the notion that a 28 (if you're lucky) day foundation is sufficient enough to begin your new life free of all mood and mind altering chemicals. And then hopefully after your very short hiatus you'll be able to make better decisions and follow through with your aftercare plan (fingers crossed). We can do better. No, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.
Don't get us wrong, thank God programs like these exist and lots of people do recover in these type of settings...but not enough. One size does not fit all.
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
It has been almost two years since our first visit to the San Patrignano community. The depth of their program necessitated us re-visiting the community in March of 2019 to delve deeper into their program and mechanics. We learned so much about their program and their philosophy – community as method model.
By way of a refresher, the community as method model relies not on counseling by professionals (as in the American model) but rather in a peer-to-peer way of recovery from addiction. This method is very much akin to the old therapeutic community that used to be the norm in America back in the mid-20th century. Simply put, the peer-to-peer model incorporates various philosophies and practicalities over an extended period of time to accomplish recovery in the addict. The resident lives in a secure, safe community where they eat, sleep and work over the course of 3-4 years (some communities use a 2-year model). During that time the “elder” residents teach and model proper community behavior to the new residents, show them how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way, how their actions effect the entire the community, how the community can have a positive effect on their lives, learn responsibilities within the daily life of the community, how to develop and nurture healthy relationships with others and learn a viable trade skill during their time in the community. The process allows the resident much needed time to relearn life skills, responsibilities and trade skills that will allow for successful reintegration into the larger society. A by-product of this process is a renewed and improved sense of self-worth and self-esteem. And the results … over 70% of those residents who graduate the program remain clean and sober 5 years after they re-enter society!
So where are we now?
We've been hard at work over the past 18 months building our model. We've been making fruitful connections with community leaders. We've educated various groups, institutions, and policy makers about our vision for the future of addiction “treatment” using our version of the San Patrignano model. So far, the reception we've received has been nothing short of amazement and encouragement as well as support.
We've continued to learn from other like-minded programs and individuals. We listen, we share and we take what we need and fold it into our model. We've developed policies, programs and procedures that will form the backbone of our comeback community and those policies, programs and procedures are constantly being fine-tuned to meet our vision for the NorthBound model.
We have an ever-growing presence on social media and our followers are highly interactive. We continue to educate the community – both locally and regionally – about our model and its history. The feedback we receive is continually encouraging and dynamic.
Recently, we have been on a capital campaign to raise much needed funds and our efforts have been rewarded. We have hired professionals to leverage our initial funding to garner more funds. Those funds are designed to catapult us to the next level. The initial exploration of funding looks promising.
We are actively looking at physical sites to house our comeback community. The ideal site will allow not only for housing our residents but provide for much more. It will have a dining facility, central lodge for group meetings and recreation. Social enterprise businesses will also have a place as will agriculture.
Our search is focused on Pennsylvania and the preliminary results are encouraging.
The next phase is making final application to our various funding opportunities and from there the journey will take on new levels of excitement and promise.