Jacob’s Ladder at Brookside Farm is a men’s residential treatment facility located in the verdant countryside in Aurora, West Virginia. Stretching across 290 acres of rolling pastures and hemlock groves, the campus holds multiple structures and was once a 19th century mountain resort. Opened recently in April of 2016, Jacob’s Ladder offers an innovative treatment approach that incorporates mindfulness, mental and physical health and active farm work to help transform their clients’ lives over the course of six months.
The program was started by Dr. Ken Blankenship after his son struggled with addiction. He discovered a lack of support and long term treatment options in one of the most notorious states for opiate addiction. The staff of Jacob’s Ladder works with West Virginia University Medicine for advance chemical dependency treatment or psychological services for their clients.
Accommodations and Food
The property has been restored to create a comfortable atmosphere for recovery to begin. Each space is furnished with modern appliances and upgrades so that clients can live comfortably while enjoying the rustic charm of the serene farming community. The residential quarters are spread over three stories and accommodate 14 clients between seven bedrooms.
Jacob’s Ladder is currently renovating an additional space on the property to expand their housing to host 26 residents total. All clients sleep two per room in twin beds with linens provided. Multiple shared bathrooms and shower facilities are available with towels and basic cleaning supplies.
The home has a wrap-around deck with scenic views of the property. A common room is available where clients can socialize as well as a reflection room and library. There is no TV at Jacob’s Ladder, and clients are encouraged to stay busy tending to the property. A kitchen and dining area is attached to the house where clients cook and prepare their own healthy, farm-to-table meals. The farm provides around 50% of the food and the rest is store bought.
Located close to the house is a studio where yoga classes, art therapy and music therapy are conducted. Clinical treatment outside of groups is conducted off property at WVU Medicine offices or through a secure telemedicine system.
Treatment and Staff
Jacob’s Ladder prides itself on being an innovative facility that incorporates individualized treatment approaches with mindfulness and 12-step principles. Each client works their way through a three-phase treatment plan that incorporates family as an integral part of their recovery. All clients are assessed before admission and must agree to a six-month stay. Clients with certain co-occurring disorders are welcome and can receive additional help through the program’s clinical side at the WUV Medicine.
Clients are kept busy every day with farm work, group therapy, 12-step meetings and house chores. Free time is built in, but the program is immersive and focused on a connection to nature, brotherly love and healing the mind, body and soul.
The first phase of treatment is intensive and does not allow the clients to be in contact with the family. Residents attend four meetings per week and work on the farm to harvest crops, feed the animals and tend to the land. Twice per day, clients attend groups facilitated by recovery coordinators. Once per week, clients work with the Jacob’s Ladder program director for an individual session. Program director Craig Cohen is a graduate of the Hazelden School of Addiction Studies and is a Master’s-level practitioner. Utilizing CBT techniques, Cohen employs 12-step principles to assist the clients towards recovery.
The second phase of treatment incorporates family, working on communication and fostering an atmosphere of love and positive regard among clients. During this phase, clients can participate in off-site recreational activities and lead their fellow brothers towards health.
The third and final phase prepares the clients for their discharge. They have a final amends process with their family (who are invited to stay on campus for two days, experiencing life on Brookside Farm). Each client’s time spent in each phase is unique to them and their individual progress. Weekly drug testing is enforced to ensure abstinence and the safety of others.
Jacob’s Ladder specializes in exposing clients to recreational activities. Clients do yoga up to three times per week and participate in mindfulness meditation. A drum circle is held every Friday night and clients attend art therapy sessions for self-expression. Camping and fishing trips are also scheduled frequently. Sometimes the group organizes outings to college or semi-professional football or baseball games. Bowling, movie nights and other activities also help keep the clients social and active.
A family program is implemented as an essential component of wellness. Families sign a commitment where they agree to a bi-weekly call with Cohen and they must complete their own assignments to work through the repercussions of addiction. Families are encouraged to attend Alanon meetings and they must commit to ending enabling behavior.
Jacob’s Ladder is an integrative and holistic treatment program that gives men the opportunity to heal from addiction and operate through a new way of life. Clients work as a community on the farm to harvest crops and feed the animals. Through mindfulness techniques and the 12-steps, each client is treated as a unique individual during their six-month stay at Brookside Farm. The family is incorporated and held to a high standard of wellness as they support their loved one through recovery. Options are available for clients who need treatment and cannot afford the out-of-pocket expense (subject to availability and financial verifications). Insurance is not accepted at this time.
Jacob’s Ladder Location
PO Box F
Aurora, WV 26705
Jacob’s Ladder Cost
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