In 1994, Givebac Inc. was founded as a “Grassroots Institute for Violence Education and Behavioral Alternatives in Counseling”: in 1998, its residential treatment facility, Givebac Ace Camp, was born. Givebac offers itself as a retreat for women with chemical dependency: a stable, quiet place to get sober. Givebac’s doors are open to any women 17 and over whose addiction issues are sufficient to merit 24-hour care, but who do not require or have already been through medical detox.
Accommodations and Food
Head down South to the land of the pines. Givebac’s campus is in Chesterfield, South Carolina, an hour-and-a-half South of Charlotte, NC and two hours West of the coast and Myrtle Beach. Givebac Ace Camp is a countryside retreat; two houses sleep up to 16 women. Everyone has a roommate, a twin bed and their own dresser. Decorating and personalizing one’s space is allowed and even encouraged—after all, many clients stay for a full 90 days. Each house has a computer room, a living room with a full screen TV, and quiet spaces for writing and reading. Each house also has a washer and dryer and a satellite TV. Outside there is an eight-acre walking trail available to all clients, ornamented with natural beauty, a gazebo and a pond.
Givebac provides three meals a day. Vegetarian and vegan diets can be accommodated, and coffee and tea are always available. Outside food is allowed here—clients can bring snacks with them to treatment, and on Sundays have the opportunity to go off-campus (within bounds) with approved visitors for lunch.
Clients are allowed to bring books and magazines with them to pass the time. They should also bring calling cards because they will be able to make calls during particular times of day.
Treatment and Staff
There are two requirements for clients at Givebac on admission: to be medically cleared (Givebac does not provide detox), and to have a “sponsor.” A “sponsor” is not a 12-step sponsor in this case, but rather a close friend or relative who acts as a client’s emergency contact. This “sponsor” has a kind of temporary power of attorney over the client; he or she brings the client to treatment, decides who goes on the client’s appropriate visitors list, and how long the client should stay in treatment. Givebac makes recommendations for duration of stay to the client and her “sponsor,” but most clients stay for three months. In that time, Givebac’s licensed therapists walk clients through a recovery program using CBT, the 12-step model, and religious ideology.
Clients have a women’s 12-step meeting on campus every night at 8 pm. The 12-step program Givebac uses is Narcotics Anonymous (NA), because some clients are drug addicts, some alcoholics, and many are both, and NA uses the terminology of “addict” (as opposed to simply “alcoholic”) that encompasses this wider range of addictions. Clients are by no means required to accept religion as a part of treatment and attending Sunday religious service is completely optional, but Givebac does (re)introduce religious concepts to clients.
Givebac puts a major emphasis on the power of journaling. Each client is asked to keep a personal journal during her time in treatment. Every client is assigned a personal licensed clinical addiction counselor to meet with one-on-one every week, and clients discuss their journal with their counselor. Most therapy is done in group settings, however.
Clients wake up at 7:45 am and have a brief morning meeting before breakfast at 8:15. After breakfast, residents have time to exercise before a 10 am group. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, this is Group Journaling. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it’s an NA book study. A post-lunch group focuses on recovery and women’s issues, and at 2 pm clients have a chance to exercise again. Afternoon group varies, but some clients will have NA step work to do, some will write independently in their journals, and still others will have CBT sessions. 5 pm is dinner for all clients, and after dinner clients are free until their nightly NA meeting at 8 pm. The day ends with a nightly group check-in and snack time. Lights out is 10:30 pm Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 on Saturday and Sunday.
Once a week, on Sundays, clients will have access to the computer room in their houses and to their personal e-mail, but the major freedom clients enjoy at Givebac is the weekly pass to hang out with approved visitors off-campus. Many treatment facilities only offer a few hours of free time with friends and family, but at Givebac clients have from 9:30 am to 6 pm every Sunday to get away.
The no-no’s for Givebac clients are pretty basic: no cars, no smart phones, no unhealthy relationships. But while Givebac doesn’t want its clients to be completely immersed in the patterns of their old lives, it allows for more “real world” contact than some other treatment facilities, allowing for weekly trips off campus and weekly email access. Givebac Ace Camp makes its limitations known. This is not a treatment facility for clients who need close monitoring of co-occurring disorders, or who don’t have a close relative or friend to act as a “sponsor,” or who need medical detox. But for those with support back home whose medical and psychological conditions are relatively stable, Givebac would be a productive place to retreat, regroup and regain strength.
Givebac Ace Camp
1477 Ted Milton Rd
Chesterfield, SC 29709-6313
Givebac Ace Camp Cost: $1,680 (30 days). Reach Givebac Ace Camp by phone at (866) 709-6988. Find Givebac Ace Camp on Facebook
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