A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.Proverbs 17:17
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and at Denver Rescue Mission, we realize the hardships that come with battling an addiction. We also believe in the life-changing freedom that comes from Jesus. The New Life Program is the Mission’s rehabilitation program for men that is designed to help them overcome destructive habits and maintain sobriety. Jonathan Soweidy, director of residential programs, shares how we walk alongside participants—physically, emotionally and spiritually—in their journeys of recovery:
Our program is initially very time consuming to keep participants engaged and focused instead of thinking about using substances. The work readiness phase, which assigns participants to various jobs around the Mission, holds them accountable to be on time, develop skills and be a team player. The goal is to restore their work ethic and help them move away from unhealthy habits. Our life skills and career classes help participants develop career readiness skills, reflect on their reactions to difficult circumstances and develop positive responses. It also helps them realize their goals and gives them a vision of what their lives could be like without destructive habits.
Mission staff members are present at our residential facility 24/7 to ensure the safety of participants and to be a support system to anyone who may be struggling. We carry out random and scheduled drug testing and breath analyses. Participants cannot leave the property for long periods without permission and must submit to drug and alcohol testing upon return. We also check rooms periodically for substances or contraband materials. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to relapsing during our program as it jeopardizes the sobriety of others, however, participants who do relapse are allowed to re-enter the program after 30 days.
Participants attend individual and group sessions every week with our counseling staff. All chaplains have—or are in the process of—attaining a Colorado Addictions Counselor (CAC) certification, which equips them to effectively guide men in addiction recovery. Participants are required to complete a relapse prevention course and have a relapse prevention plan in place before moving on to the last phase of the program.
We require participants to be involved in community support groups, such as church groups and Alcoholics Anonymous. Chaplains meet regularly with their assigned participants to listen, pray and offer fellowship. The men are also paired with volunteer mentors who spend quality time with them and offer a listening ear. The friendships and camaraderie that the men develop with one another also fosters support in maintaining sobriety.
Through structure, accountability, guidance, and community, our ultimate goal at the Mission is to promote the hope that comes from Jesus and the new life that He offers. This month, and every month, we are thankful for the Cross.
Jonathan Soweidy is the director of residential programs at Denver Rescue Mission and has worked in mental health residential programs and case management in Denver for 18 years. Before working at the Mission, he worked at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus leading their Office of Case Management and Behavior Intervention teams. He holds a Master of Science in organizational development and is an instructor in mental health first aid.