Clean and Sober in Baja California

Based on Baja’s old image one would not think it to be a place to get clean and sober. However, Baja has addressed one issue in a set of complex issues and has created a government supported organization called CRREAD; a very long Spanish name meaning clean and sober. Its program helps men through the withdrawal and detox stage of their addiction. It focuses on every detail needed to be successful, and therefore it has a 6 month commitment to the rehabilitation process. It has been seen that 28 day programs do not have the time to address all the real issues once a person gains sobriety, and it takes time to anchor health in a person’s mind, body, and spirit.

CRREAD’s foundation is based on the 12-steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. And in one of the newer facilities just south of Rosarito Beach in Northern Baja, the 3 story structure was built on donated land near the Pacific Ocean. It grew to its three-story height one brick at a time; the work done by the recovering men. For as the men become clean and sober their natural skills return. Under one roof one will find all the skills needed in construction, including plumbers, electricians, wood workers and artisans.

In 2012 the facility is housing 200 men under one roof! Any ideas that comes to mind about how this might look and sound like would be wrong. On occasion, I take visitors through the quiet and immaculate structure. Floors are polished mosaic tile designed by the sober artisans. Everything is in perfect order from the pantry that holds large bags of rice and beans, to the kitchen that feeds the men three meals a day. What is clear is a shared goal for sobriety and everything that includes. A doctor comes in to care for the men going through the DTs or withdraws from heroin, as it can be a life-threatening process. A sterile environment in the infirmary provides the visiting doctor a place to check on the patients’ physical well-being. Even a barber shop staffed by one of the men. The 12-step meetings go on all day and into the night. When the men are not in a meeting they have work details inside the grounds, which are silently guarded by “brothers” with more sobriety.

When a drunk starts to sober up, they will often discover that sobriety means much more than just not drinking. Their families have been harmed in many ways because of the addictions, and now for the first time those relationship can begin to be heal. It takes everyone’s effort to heal the Sober living near you family system. Families need the support as much as the addict, and 12-step can also help with the Al-Anon program. While the men are in the program, they can not leave the building, but are allowed to have family visits on the weekend.

After a certain level of sobriety they can work in the community, bringing “home” the wages earned which goes to support the co-op that supports them. They never go out alone. They always “buddy” up so there is no temptation to “fall off the wagon.” Each phase of sobriety takes as long as it takes, each man is different, but the safe environment, the steps back to sobriety in all areas of life, will lead naturally to serving others. CRREAD each year invites the children in the local community to an Easter egg hunt and a Christmas event with a real Santa Claus. Some of the men are “lifers” and stay on to be part of the program to help others. While others may move into administrative positions. They all attest to the fact that CRREAD gave them the time they needed to develop the skills to reenter society, and that the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous saved their lives. The only time I ever heard 200 men raise their voices was at the end of a meeting, “It works if you work it!” was their affirming roar.

Martina Dobesh has lived in northern Baja for 12 years. She is a journalist and editor of her online publication about Baja and the people who live there. In her early college days she earned a degree in Alcoholism Counseling. She is an avid supporter of those working towards sobriety, and holds the CRREAD program in the highest regard. She is always looking for stories about Baja that will show the positive choices that people make and how those choices contribute to the entire community. Often the positive things happening in Baja are rarely reported. Her commitment is to report stories that inspire, and will give the readers experience, strength and hope.

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