Parts of the country are still covered in snow, with single digits registering on the thermometer, but at Rally Point Palm Beach you’re likely to find a small group of men fishing in the backyard, enjoying balmy temperatures. The freshwater canal is home to largemouth bass and bluegills, along with some more exotic species like Mayan cichlids, peacock bass, oscars and snakeheads. The average daytime temperature in Palm Beach is around 80 degrees year-round and the nights don’t usually get any cooler than 60, so the weather is perfect for hanging outside.
Rally Point is a small, gender-specific addiction recovery program for men in an upscale beachside community. The program uses a peer-driven, holistic approach to teach clients to live without drugs and alcohol. And this includes fishing.
As current client and record-holder for most fish caught, Mark K. explains, “I loved fishing as a kid and it brings back memories.” In this way, fishing reconnects residents to a simpler time in their lives, reminding them of when having fun didn’t involve substances. Daily life at Rally Point is a structured schedule of group and individual therapy, 12-step meetings, yoga, nutritional counseling and experiential therapies like art, music and outdoor adventures. The guys may be busy, but on weekends, early in the mornings and in evenings, there’s still plenty of time to try to catch fish.
“We sit out by the dock and talk while being in a relaxed environment” shared another Rally Point client, William, as he described the way fishing helps enhance the sense of community in the house. The program strives to be more than just an average rehab—more of a family. Support and accountability are everybody’s business, not just the counselors. And sometimes the best talks happen after therapy has ended for the day.
Rally Point’s Florida-style treatment protocol begins with a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) where six men share a sober living home, called Fortitude House, and attend treatment weekdays at an off-site clinical facility. After about 30 days, the men move to one of two IOP homes—Unity House and Victory House. All the homes and the clinical facility are in close proximity and near beaches, other water recreation activities and hiking trails. In addition to the neighborhood fishing, the men enjoy shared access to a swimming pool, hot tub, outdoor barbeque and basketball court.
Fortitude House is set on a canal and has its own dock. The guys are encouraged to start fishing from day one because it helps to have a common activity to break the ice. Fishing can be a great way to bond and build friendships—one of the cornerstones of the Rally Point program. The house is equipped with fishing poles and tackle and the staff stocks live bait several times a week.
Men from the other two houses are welcome to come over for fishing, provided that the senior clients follow the rules of PHP when they are on the premises, which means no cell phones. But who needs a cell phone while fishing anyway? The guys agree that the sense of peace and quiet near the water is the perfect setting for prayer and meditation. One client, Nathan, describes his time on the dock as, “time to think things through, clear my mind and slow down.” In early recovery, facing long-neglected details of life and experiencing feelings that have been buried can be overwhelming. Having a quiet place to meditate in nature is an excellent way for the clients to find inner peace.
But time on the dock is not all rest and relaxation. Just like life in recovery, fishing can yield unexpected surprises. Sometimes when the guys are out fishing they catch more than they bargain for. Nathan explains, “We have an alligator that hangs around [the dock]some nights. We caught him one time and everybody was very excited. It was fun.” There are also turtles and iguanas in the backyard, which can be exciting—and maybe a little scary—for guys who haven’t spent much time in South Florida. But it’s all part of the experience.
Rally Point Palm Beach offers great combination of solid therapeutic techniques and real life recovery. The on-site fishing is great metaphor for many of the principles that make Rally Point special. Clients learn to bond and have fun without drugs and alcohol, embrace quiet moments of meditation and, alternately, face moments of unexpected excitement and even walk through some fear. This all just goes to show how men looking for a new way of life can catch more than fish at Rally Point.
Photo courtesy of Rally Point; used with permission.
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