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Life at Guiding Light Recovery

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Ever wonder what rehab is like? Guiding Light Recovery is a professional, holistic, and "no-joke" substance abuse treatment program provided to men at no financial cost. The only price is their willingness, open-mindedness, and sincere desire to change.

/Doug Pancy

The Guiding Light Recovery Program offers men struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol a four-month long, comprehensive, “no-joke” substance abuse rehabilitation program provided at no cost to clients. The program offers access to professional therapists, life-coaches, spiritual directors, and cognitive behavioral treatment. Men that come through our doors seeking help are spiritually, emotionally, and often physically broken. They are beaten down by years, if not decades, of lost time due to addiction and hopelessness. At Guiding Light Recovery, we offer these men safety, security, tolerance, and hope. We give them the means and the tools to realize they are worthy human beings, can live a fulfilling life, and are not doomed to an inescapable cycle of addiction and relapse.

Many men arrive at our doors as a last resort, often after unsuccessfully attempting to get sober through a myriad of differing means and methods. Since we are a program that comes free of any financial cost to our clients, one would not be remiss as to be skeptical of our relatively high success rates (76% of successful clients achieve a year of sobriety or longer.) Especially since many similar substance-abuse treatment programs often cost tens of thousands of dollars to attend. But the very fact that we have no financial incentive to keep men enrolled here is, in fact, a key to our success. The only incentive we have is to help men to become the best versions of themselves. We are not a profit-seeking endeavor, we only seek to give those struggling with addiction in our community the means to lift themselves up.

When men seek to be admitted into the Recovery program, they are initially placed on a three to five-day probationary period. This gives our staff time to observe and evaluate whether or not they are truly serious about getting sober. Some of the prospective clients that come here do not make it past this stage. At Guiding Light, we have to be sure that men accepted into the Recovery program are serious about their sobriety and understand the investment our donors are making in them. While on probation, each man is encouraged to sit in quiet reflection and contemplation of why they are here, and what they are willing to do differently. Once accepted, each man is welcomed into our community, following in the footsteps of countless others that have found a way to break the cycle of compulsion, destitution, and hopelessness that brought them to our doors.

Believe it or not, the day-to-day life of a man living at Guiding Light Recovery is incredibly busy. A client’s schedule Monday through Friday is often completely booked from when he wakes up at six in the morning to as late as six in the afternoon. Throughout the week men have individual appointments with therapists, spiritual directors, life coaches, and mentors. They also attend group therapy sessions, cognitive behavioral classes, meditations, and support group meetings.

An aspect of Guiding Light Recovery that sets it apart from similar programs is that the men are required to cook, clean, and provide for themselves. “Here I am 51 years old with 30 years of experience in transportation and I’m scrubbing toilets in the morning and mopping the floors,” said Tom, a former client. “I have to admit that I think the humility that it gave me was very important.” Men are encouraged to take personal responsibility not only for their recovery, but for their surroundings, the well-being of themselves and for their fellow man.

Physical fitness is also important. Men participate in group exercises twice a week and have access to a fully equipped weight room inside our facility complete with stationary bikes, free-weights, a cable machine and a bench press. There is a very real correlation between how hard a client is willing to push himself physically, and how hard he is willing to push himself to stay sober. “If I had to choose one thing in this program that has been the most beneficial to me, I would have to say it’s the exercise,” according to Brett, a client that has been in the program for three months. “It just motivates me, it’s something I can put my all in to.” Guiding Light Recovery is successful because we seek to replace the chaos of day-in-day-out addiction with a proactive, extensive, all-encompassing, and healthy routine. Our clients are used to chaos, but instead of spending all their time and energy trying to stay high and maintaining the threads holding their lives together, they are working 24/7 on how to create a life for themselves that is worth staying sober for.

According to Mike, a current client, the most important part of Guiding Light for him has been the bonds he has formed with his fellows. “The most beneficial aspect of the program to me is the relationships,” he said. “The people that I live with, my life coaches, the therapists, the spiritual directors. The bonds that I have formed with the guys in here is something I’ve never had when I was out there.” Coming to Guiding Light was a chance for Mike to find a new life away from all the ties and influences of his old life. “I’m not so familiar with Grand Rapids, so coming here has been a fresh start for me, I have some of the greatest relationships I’ve ever had now with people who are sober.”

Something is working here at Guiding Light. 76% of men who come through our doors and complete our program stay sober over a year. These statistics are, frankly, remarkable when contrasted with a 2007 study conducted by Evaluation Review, a social-research journal, showing that only 33% of those attempting to get sober are able to accomplish this.[1] The only cost for men to be accepted in the Guiding Light program is their willingness to change and their commitment to living a different way. It costs roughly $1400 a day to house, feed, and teach our clients how a life in sobriety is possible, and we could not do it without our generous donors. They are the reason we see miracles happen here every day. It truly is a blessing that men struggling with addiction can come here and learn to live a life of freedom, joy, happiness, and sobriety. From all of us at Guiding Light, clients and staff alike, we want to express an enormous amount of gratitude for our numerous donors, advocates, and supporters for all that they do and provide for us. To learn more about the Guiding Light Recovery program, you can visit, call Jacob at 616-451-0236 or email [email protected].

[1] Dennis, M. L., Foss, M. A., & Scott, C. K. (2007). An eight-year perspective on the relationship between the duration of abstinence and other aspects of recovery. Evaluation review31(6), 585–612.


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