Damascus is a Statesboro, Georgia recovery facility for men over the age of 18. It’s known for its emphasis on hard work and community involvement more than medical intervention, and offers a longer program than average. The facility was opened in 2010 by Tim Strickland and Vern Howard, two addiction professionals dedicated to helping others find recovery.
Accommodations and Food
Damascus is located in two cozy homes five blocks apart from each other in a wooded residential area of Statesboro, and both are more or less interchangeable. All clients share bedrooms with up to three other roommates, for a maximum of 28 at a time. All rooms have bunk beds, and most have a dresser and desk with a computer as well. There’s also a tasteful common area with exposed brick and wood details where residents can watch television, and a front porch with chairs for relaxing outdoors as well.
There are three meals served a day, all prepared by the clients themselves. Clients take weekly turns being the cook, and each is taught to cook for his housemates and to manage a food budget. Meals often vary due to who’s cooking in a given week, but tend towards warm, comfort food with vegetables and salads.
Treatment and Staff
Recovery at Damascus evolves over time, with residency lasting a minimum of a year. Though it does not offer detox, treatment begins with heavy off-site 12-step involvement, group counseling including CBT, once a week one-on-one counseling, psycho-educational groups, anger management, relapse prevention and other addiction-based education.
Over time, treatment moves away from self-reflection and towards community service and work. All must eventually find employment and carry out all their obligations, inside the house and out. As clients move through the program their responsibilities increase, and eventually they become senior residents (with usually two or four to a house at any given time) who help run the facility. Clients graduate when they complete an approved financial and transitional plan, one that includes potential housing and job prospects.
Because of their long-term arrangement, it’s hard to imagine what a typical day looks like at Damascus. Still, everything begins with a 6 am wake-up. Residents then typically have breakfast and go to work. When they return, they must attend a mandatory AA or NA meeting at 5:30 pm before several group meetings. Dinner comes in the early evening followed by a daily chore; lights out is at 11 pm. Clients must attend church on Sundays as well, followed by a group dinner with both houses afterwards.
The staff at Damascus consists of only the two aforementioned counselors and owners. Strickland has a Masters degree in Education Counseling, while Howard is a licensed and certified addiction counselor. The staff-to-client ratio is therefore relatively high, at about one-to-14, though that number is lower if senior residents are included.
The most unique aspect of Damascus is its unusual disciplinary system. Residents earn privileges to see and speak to their families, with a different waiting period for each client. Treatment begins with a mandatory blackout that’s gradually lifted over time first with mail, then phone and then in-person visits. Eventually, residents are allowed overnight stays to go see their families. All phone calls and visitation must occur during certain times, pending staff approval.
There’s also DUI intervention education when needed and recreational opportunities on Sundays such as basketball, baseball and volleyball games, movies, camping outings, concerts or attending local sporting events. Families are also encouraged to attend occasional educational seminars to provide an informed, supportive base for each resident.
Damascus does not offer specific aftercare due to the length of the program, but it does refer clients to local 12-step resources and other counseling services. It also happily works with parolees, and can make arrangements for them to frequently correspond with their parole officers.
In short, Damascus offers a unique treatment approach that may not be right for everyone. The program does not offer medical care or psychiatric help, but does feature a professional staff and plenty of peer support. Damascus may be ideal for those looking for a place to reprogram themselves and their work ethic, and for those willing to live away from home for a entire year.
18 Simmons Center
Statesboro, GA 30458
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