For us, recovery isn’t just physically based. Our focus has always been upon the spiritual fulfillment aspects of our experiences as humans. We know that to combat addiction, our patients need not only individual treatment for their physical well-being, but also spiritual and mental support throughout. We also know that a lot of what we do is to help individuals leaving drug rehab connect themselves back to their families and communities and vice versa. But sometimes this can prove challenging.
It is easy for someone to feel alienated when going through recovery and for family members to feel like they are ill-equipped to give support since they personally have not struggled with addiction . But that is not so. This year, to help everyone understand that connection and encouragement is so much more than experiencing the same thing, we took a giant leap.
Each year, The Shops at Riverwoods near the mouth of Provo Canyon in Utah hosts Chalk the Block — a three-day street painting event. The event is free and hosts over 300 artists who spend hours chalking and painting the streets within the shopping center. The event benefits Clear Horizon Academy for autistic children and includes entertainment, festivities, food, and prizes for the artists. At Phoenix Recovery and Counseling Centers, we decided to participate this year, with a deep-seeded hope of getting viewers to not only enjoy our piece, but also to have them participate and understand that what addicts have experienced isn’t too far from what their own hearts and minds have felt during times of need.
We invested time into finding a talented artist to help us create a piece that would show participants and viewers the strength that they have within. The same strength that they can give to help anyone overcoming any trial. After nearly 12 hours of drawing, we witnessed the emergence of a rocky cliff overlooking a smoky sea. Just like the phoenix in our name and symbol, we wanted to express to the public that after pain and agony, sorrow, loss, after any storm there is hope for rebirth.
We invited on-lookers to take a minute to stand near our piece and write down something that they had risen above in their lives. Our hope was for a few, at best, to have the courage to write down something meaningful. Within 24 hours, the black asphalt was glowing in a rainbow of confessions and admittance.
“Loss of a father, anxiety, addiction, eating disorder, car crash, self harm, transphobia, a sister with a drug addiction.”
Seeing dozens upon dozens make their mark on the scarred asphalt, we realized that what we try to do at Phoenix Recovery is something that everyone does every day: they connect to others in crisis, and they support, care, love, and reach out whether or not they have witnessed or been through the exact same thing. To say that it was touching to witness this would be a gross understatement.
At Phoenix Recovery, our mission is to “empower individuals and families suffering from addiction, to celebrate life through lasting solutions.” For us, we know that addiction doesn’t stop at our exit doors, we know that tough times will come again. And again. But as we watched mothers, daughters, brothers, and strangers write down what they have risen above, we saw our hope for understanding fulfilled. We saw the relationships to loved ones already being mended as one after another piece of chalk was rubbed down to but a small nub.