Tallgrass is located in a town once nicknamed “Little Chicago” for its booze-hawking habits during prohibition, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It’s also a city that remains equally committed to recovery—with 150 sober volunteers from the area donating their experience, strength, hope and personal time to serving Tallgrass clients.
Accommodations and Food
Although the program at Tallgrass might be structured, it isn’t impersonal. There are only 14 clients allowed at a time—usually a fair mix of men and women ( in co-ed residences). The demographic is mostly Caucasian with varying ages but because of the strong Native America population in the area, there are typically some Sioux as well as other local tribal members in residence during the average 30-day stint.
The food at Tallgrass is hearty, cafeteria style and reportedly cafeteria quality. Since it’s tough to mess up pasta, “Bob’s spaghetti” is a client favorite, along with the house jambalaya and their famous bacon, egg and cheeseburger. There’s also a salad bar and coffee, snacks and sweet treats are also available 24/7.
Treatment and Staff
The 30-day residential recovery program is focused on treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction via the 12 steps. Period. No alternative methods of recovery are offered. Local sober members of 12-step groups, called “mentors,” come three times a week and work with their mentees, getting them involved in the steps before their 30 days are up. Not a bad way at all to get through to struggling addicts since sometimes the only person you can hear is the one who has been through it.
Tallgrass clients are afforded a good amount of one-on-one attention with staff members, mentors and other volunteers. While staff and faculty at Tallgrass are reportedly very encouraging, supportive and fair, no one is going to baby any clients who aren’t willing to do the work. And there’s a lot of work to do to stay sober. Every day, Tallgrass-ers get into action bright and early with breakfast at 7 am and meditation and chores immediately following. Two group sessions take place before lunch—one 12-step based and one topic based—and there are two more after lunch. Nights are reserved for 12-step meetings, both on- and off-site, and a daily review or 10th step is done each night before bedtime. Tallgrass clients are required to participate in all scheduled groups, classes, meetings, lectures and events. They are also required to participate in their own recovery—meaning they are expected to be focused and invested in doing their step work and any other recovery-based tasks they are assigned.
The Tallgrass website is thoughtful enough to provide some guidelines for what to pack, including “decent” clothing—so no half-shirts or muscle shirts. Also nothing with inappropriate images, slang or logos, especially anything depicting alcohol, drugs, sex, and/or violence. In terms of personal items, laptops, iPads, electronic devices, cell phones or cameras are also not allowed.
Clients are also not allowed to bring books or magazines that are not recovery related into treatment with them; any downtime is spent curled up with the Big Book or doing step work. And while some rehabs have a less-than-strict monitoring system when it comes to relapsing in treatment, the staff at Tallgrass has a zero tolerance policy for using alcohol or drugs while in residence. Any client caught breaking this rule will be promptly kicked out.
Even though it might seem like the program at Tallgrass is all work and no play, there are in fact a bunch of recreational activities available to give the recovering brain a break. Clients can play basketball or throw horseshoes, run or walk on trails that criss-cross the facility’s 10-acre property, or work out at the on-site gym (though it’s small with a limited number of exercise machines). There is a movie shown every Friday and Saturday nights at 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays friends and family are allowed to visit between between 1 pm and 4 pm, as long as it’s pre-approved.
For those who need a serious dose of 12-step work with few perks, Tallgrass could be just the wake-up call needed.
27048 S Tallgrass Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57108
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