A safe, secure and controlled environment
Expectations about AARC’s centre vary considerably; almost everyone is surprised by what they find here. The first thing they notice is that there are no dorms, even though AARC is a semi-residential treatment. That’s because clients stay in recovery homes, hosted by the parents of clients further along in the program. Clients only attend the centre during the day.
The environment is best described as mixed use. A tour of the facility will reveal a full-time teaching staff operating a Calgary Board of Education satellite classroom, indoor and outdoor fitness areas, activity areas, large and small meeting rooms. In addition AARC has a dining area that is serviced by its very own chef.
Structured and supervised
Each day at the centre is highly structured and under constant supervision. Clients at all levels are responsible for the cleaning of the building and dining areas. The majority of the time, clients are engaged in a variety of group and individual therapy sessions as well as AA meetings.
What AARC is not is a conventional residential home or halfway house. AARC is much more than the centre alone. It is also the network of recovery homes hosted by the parents of clients moving through the later stages of the program; what we call semi-residential treatment. It is also the community of alumni as well as AA and Al Anon groups that support clients and their families once they officially graduate.
Abstinence is key
The key feature is that clients cannot leave the centre, or the recovery home, without the express permission of staff and parents. Since abstinence is key to the success of the program, any attempt to return to the client’s previous, drug-associated lifestyle cannot be permitted. In the short-term, clients are often frustrated. In the long-term, they are thankful for the restrictions placed on them.