For those who think that 12-step recovery is a religion, the alcohol and drug treatment center, Ashley Addiction Treatment, probably won’t do anything to convince them otherwise. The 31-year old, Maryland-based rehab was founded by Father Joseph Martin—a Catholic priest who earned national acclaim after the US Navy filmed a talk he gave on addiction—and Mae Ashley Abraham, an alcoholic who was inspired to get sober after hearing Father Martin’s talk. It’s 12-step recovery at its finest—one carries the message to another, and they join forces to forward the message to thousands.
Although Father Martin passed away in 2009, Father Martin’s Ashley does still have Catholic influences. The current CEO is also a priest and the rehab’s gift shop sells religious paraphernalia (as well as keepsakes with images of Father Martin’s face on them), but the most identifiably Catholic influences are the gravity and discipline with which the treatment program is run. In fact, other than the standard God talk that comes with most 12-step recovery, Ashley Addiction Treatment is non-denominational and welcomes people of all faiths (or lack thereof).
Accommodations and Food
Residents are housed at same-sex residences that have been described as clean and cozy, and each person should expect to have two roommates. While clients are encouraged to practice self-care and respect when it comes to caring for their personal space, Ashley Addiction Treatment does provide housekeeping and staff members take care of the laundry.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is a fairly strict and standard rehab, there is one area where they stand out—the food. It’s nothing gourmet or California-healthy, but the above-average quality of their down-home American cuisine is uncontested. Breakfast buffets of fluffy eggs, crispy bacon and fresh pancakes are enough to lift any addict’s spirits. Lunch and dinner are an array of solid choices from pasta dishes, fresh fish, and juicy steaks to chicken and meatloaf.
Treatment and Staff
Upon arrival, new clients are presented with their own copy of either the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous’ basic text, as well as Hazelden’s Twenty-Four Hours daily meditation book. Days at FMA start bright and early at 6 am and the curriculum will typically have their (up to) 78 clients occupied until about 9 pm—which might sound exhausting, but helpfully provides little time to think about using drugs or alcohol. For those distracted by the opposite sex, there will still be little to worry about—the only mixed-gender activity is group counseling, and the assigned seating at meals leaves little opportunity to co-mingle.
Combined with the program’s strict rules on phone use—and total restriction on music, outside reading and Internet—there aren’t many ways to lose focus. Most waking hours are spent in 12-step style groups, individual therapy or studying the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Ashley Addiction Treatment boasts an impressive array of professionals on staff including medical doctors, psychologists, registered nurses, addiction counselors and specialized clinicians. The staff and its dedication to recovery truly embodies the mission of this rehab’s founder.
Despite all the AA, there is some time for clients to engage in therapeutic activities like working out, aerobics, yoga, meditation, arts and crafts and playing the drums. Massage is now also available for an extra fee.
Another specialized area for Ashley Addiction Treatment is relapse prevention. Back in 1986, they became the first alcohol and drug addiction treatment center to offer a focus in this area. They have since designed The Ashley Relapse Treatment program, which incorporates renowned relapse researcher Terrance Gorski’s Relapse Prevention Model, 12-step approaches and Ashley Addiction’s treatment philosophy. This also goes hand-in-hand with Ashley Addiction Treatment’s strong alumni network, which continues correspondence with the nearing 40,000 former clients and arranges and hosts events on the main campus, as well as at other venues up and down the East Coast.
Overall, this is a thorough program that doesn’t shirk on activities on treatment. Those who are resistant to 12-step or any religious program tracks might not find exactly what they need here but others could find they help they need.
Ashley Addiction Treatment
800 Tydings Lane
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
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