Located in Orange County, Florida, Fresh Start Ministries is a year-long residential substance abuse program for men that’s heavily faith-based. As one might guess from the name, Fresh Start follows a Christian recovery rubric, and clients should be prepared for immersion into Bible studies and church services during their stay. Residents are also expected to procure and maintain employment while they attend Fresh Start, which means that the majority of treatment occurs in the evening hours.
Accommodations and Food
Those staying at Fresh Start should be ready to get cozy with their fellow clients. While the facility is a large modern looking apartment complex all neat and tastefully decorated, the rooms all feature eight twin beds, though there is one room that only sleeps six. Still, these are still large and well lit. All the men get small dressers of their own to store their clothes and personal items, but bathrooms are shared. There is a cook on staff who prepares hot dinners each night, though breakfasts are continental. Lunches are usually leftovers or sandwiches, though most residents purchase their own lunches during their work day.
Treatment and Staff
Fresh Start is a 12-month program, with no exceptions. As mentioned, all clients are expected to work off-site jobs during their stay, and the main hours of treatment are from 3:30 to 11 pm. During that time, residents will attend one-on-one and group therapy, Bible study groups and 12-step meetings. There’s roll call at 6 pm where clients have dinner together followed by a class or 12-step meeting. At 9 pm it’s quiet time where the men can meditate or work on their journaling homework.
For those still early in their stay that are as-of-yet unemployed, Fresh Start’s staff also aids them in looking for a job; to that end, clients have access to on-site computers during the day time hours. Fresh Start also offers an aftercare program wherein alumni can attend weekly support group meetings at the facility. There is also aftercare housing in an apartment less than a half mile from the facility, though Fresh Start advises participation in both of these programs for at least a year.
There is no medical detox offered at Fresh Start and residents must take care of this step, if necessary, before they arrive. There’s also no medical doctor or psychiatrist on staff, though clients can make off-site appointments to get medical help when need be. The staff at Fresh Start is largely certified addiction counselors, therapists and house managers—more good news is that they keep staff available around the clock, with house managers who stay on-site in separate apartments on the grounds.
Fresh Start works to make their facility a comfortable home environment, which is a good thing since most activities stem from there. Situated right on the bank of Lake Fairview, Fresh Start has a nice backyard area and a small dock for relaxing during free time. Though their program doesn’t sponsor any recreational trips, residents can earn more and more off-site freedom as time goes on.
On their first four on-site Saturdays, clients are still restricted and spend their time doing house chores or 12-step work. After a certain level trust has been established, residents can begin taking their own Saturday trips with a staff supervisor. Often this means trips to the movies, shopping or even to nearby Disneyworld. Sundays are set aside for worship, with clients escorted to and from church services in Fresh Start’s passenger vans.
Since most residents find employment at some point during their stay (with those who cannot made to participate in community outreach groups), Fresh Start has a payment plan set up wherein a client’s checks come to them directly and a $175 weekly fee is deducted. Residents are then doled out $55 a week for treats and supplies, with the rest of the check saved for them for when they leave the program. During the critical time of recovery from drugs and alcohol, this financial help could be a huge benefit to some.
With an emphasis on religious discipline, work ethic and 12-step philosophy, Fresh Start keeps things simple but thorough—still, those who are seeking a total immersion in recovery with days devoted to therapy and 12-step work may be slightly thrown by the need for employment. Nevertheless, the structure offered at Fresh Start (not to mention the low cost that few facilities can compete with) may still be the right approach for the right client.
Fresh Start Ministries of Central Florida, Inc.
4436 Edgewater Dr
Orlando, FL 32804
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