ExSL Program Overview
The ExSL program treats long term addiction and focuses on a therapeutic community for the healing and support of recovering addicts who are relapse prone and who have made slow progress in primary treatment. Therapeutic community is a communal approach to addiction recovery that brings healing and support through a total change in life-style. Therapeutic communities have made the greatest impact on alcoholics/drug addicts for the following reasons:
- Addiction is viewed as a disorder of the whole person, effecting many aspects of daily life. Therefore, it is not enough to deal exclusively with the chemical of abuse.
- The ExSL program has a highly structured daily regimen: providing order, reducing boredom, reducing drug use preoccupations, enhancing satisfaction of accomplishments
- The program promotes a willingness to confront others in a supportive way in keeping with the rules and spirit of community: checking attitudes, moods, and appreciation of each other’s progress.
Each person’s needs define their pathway to recovery with a focus on elimination of self-defeating behaviors, promotion of social attitudes and values, and caring for others. “Love your neighbor…”
The ExSL program is specifically designed for relapse prone persons.
- The program helps patients deal with the core issues and unfinished business directly related to addiction that triggers relapse.
- The ExSL program helps relapse prone persons to look at core psychological personality and abuse issues that may result in relapse.
- Patients are taught how to manage cravings.
Length of the program varies with individual needs, but the program is a minimum of 2 months.
Clients must be at least 21 years of age and have already completed primary treatment, either at Serenity Lane or elsewhere.
Interview with the mother of a young male ExSL patient.
The Last Treatment Program You’ll Need
A bold statement, but true for many of our patients! The profile of an ExSL patient is one who has had two or more residential treatments of 21+ days and has been unable to find lasting recovery. Our patients could give lectures in most programs on the disease of addiction, denial, communication, family systems, 12 Step programs, sponsorships … and the list goes on. ExSL patients know how to “talk the talk,” but can’t (or won’t) “walk the walk” of treatment and recovery. Typically, they are the wisest of the “treatment wise.” The clientele in our ExSL program are those patients who haven’t been successful in traditional treatment settings. We love the challenge, and so do the patients! There are no lectures in ExSL, only hard hitting, compassionate confrontation of the numerous cognitive and spiritual blocks that are keeping the patient from surrender and acceptance. Family sessions, in one-on-one settings and group, are included in the program. These meetings are meant to shed light on the family dynamics that have been infected by the disease and to allow healing to begin.
How do we accomplish this mission where others have fallen short despite their best efforts? Perhaps the most important ingredient is time. The belief systems are so entrenched and well guarded that only the keenest clinician can spot them, which requires extended time, observation, and a therapeutic alliance for trust to be established. Our typical patient has mastered the survival skill of deceit to such a level that they are no longer aware of the patterns they use to keep the disease active.
Additionally, the concepts of therapeutic community, responsibility and accountability create an environment where the disease lives under a microscope. Behaviors, written and verbal statements, attitudes and beliefs are constantly being challenged and dissected. As a result, no stone is left unturned in ferreting out the core of the disease. Due to the complexity of issues, and the need to investigate and correct belief systems, a 60 day minimum stay is required after the assessment process of three to five days is completed.
Back to basics, a theme that is constantly stressed. All patents must present a “time-line first step” that clearly and thoroughly tracks their disease, their treatment experiences, how they sabotaged them, and the relapses and consequences. A rigorous schedule of therapy includes two groups (1.5 hours each) Monday through Friday and one group (1.5 hours each) Saturday and Sunday. The groups are facilitated by your primary clinician or co-facilitated by our two clinicians. In addition, the Thursday afternoon is a specialized interactive relapse prevention group experience that are designed to assist the patient in surrender and acceptance of the disease of addiction. Compliance, acceptance, surrender, and spirituality are common themes. All patients are required to attend one 12 Step meeting per day in addition to program activities, obtain a sponsor, and do “mirroring work”. Since we have standard 21 and 28 day residential programs and hospital detox available, all ExSL patients are required to start the process of helping the alcoholic/addict who still suffers by meeting with these patients and sharing their experience, strength and hope, The immersion into service work, combined with 12 Step involvement and cognitive therapy, produce an environment of awareness at all levels for our ExSL patients. The core ingredient of our program comes from the wisdom of the 12 Step community, a requirement that the patient be honest, open, and willing to participate. When those concepts are honored, ExSL will guide the patient to a lasting recovery.
The ExSL Staff
Tom Burns, CADC II
Tom Burns, CADC II
Tom loves the opportunity he gets in ExSL to “meet patients where they are” in their recovery. “It’s a larger team effort,” he says. “We get to go deeper and look at underlying issues.” He stresses accountability and acceptance with his patients. “Nobody gets into ExSL by accident,” he likes to say. “When you come in to ExSL it’s because you still have some issues to work on, after residential. And we really get to work!”
Tom Burns can be reached at: email@example.com
Molly Gelinas, CADC I
Molly Gelinas, CADC I
Molly describes the ExSL process as one of breakdown and rebuilding. Patients look at the issues that have been an underlying factor in previous relapses. Molly helps her patients work through everything from family dynamics to trauma. “I get to work with them on the more vulnerable, emotional side of things.” She describes this process like becoming a sponge. “We build them back up with spirituality, self-esteem and fellowship.”
Molly Gelinas can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Internal studies have been conducted that demonstrate a very high success rate of recovery for those patients who complete their prescribed course of treatment. Even though ExSL patients are the “toughest of the tough” to treat, we’ve experienced excellent results!