Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: recovering01 ()
Date: July 10, 2009 02:04AM

Jerry Curl, thanks for your post. The feeling of what you wrote is very accurate about Choices and the community. One major problem I had there was that there never was a time set when I would leave. I'd ask when I was going to leave, and they kept saying.. we think you should stay another month, and then another year, and then finally, you should just live here. I felt like they wanted me to spend the rest of my life there. One person in the community shared his experience with me of giving up all his belongings (house, car, furniture - everything) (because "the possessions didn't matter") and suggested I do the same thing. I often heard people talk about how much they were willing to sacrifice to get sober, as if giving up everything - connections with family, friends, worldly possessions was going to make you better. I agree that with some addicts it is obvious that some things have to change. Some connections need to be cut. The message seemed at Choices was the more hardcore you were about recovery as they saw it, the more sacrifices you made - the more accepted you would be in the community. This message was conveyed all the time down there. You would become "a chosen one".

I know I caused my family and loved ones plenty of pain because of my addiction, but Choices didn't help make things better while I was there. They alone caused my family and friends much grief and anxiety from being cut off from me. They wanted no contact.

Many of the people in the community worshiped Maureen. I always got a sick feeling when group was ending and Maureen would just get up, not say a word and leave. She wouldn't say a thing, when she was ready to go, she just got up and left. It felt arrogant. Many people in the room would gush and say.. "thannnkkk you Maureen" as she was walking out of the room. But Maureen would rarely if ever acknowledge them. It just felt weird and wrong. It made Maureen seem arrogant, and it felt like the clients were her worshipers. That always made me feel uneasy.

I feel much better and much happier since I left there. I'm much more productive.

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: Jerry Curl ()
Date: July 10, 2009 08:59AM

Maureen was worshiped as if some kind of god. She enters and leaves just as you state, and her special chair was treated like some kind of alter. One night before group I sat in her chair. People in the room completely flipped out over me sitting in her chair. It was very disturbing.

It's easy to look back and see how they lure you in. migrate you into the community, and finally put you in a position where it is very hard to leave. I used to wonder over and over how I let them suck me in, then finally my Mom pointed it out to me; they preyed on my fears. My biggest fear at the time was that I would drink, use, or act out, and they used that fear to get me to put all of my trust (faith?) into them. Over time, they convinced me that I could not and would not ever stay clean and sober unless I stayed with them. Choices became my higher power. That is really sick.

We are all living proof that there is life after choices. I am happier than I have ever been, and I am clean and sober. I am successful in my job, my marriage, and my life. The transition from choices into a regular life was a very difficult transition, but was worth every agonizing night. Leaving was by far the best decision I have ever made in my life.

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: free2be ()
Date: July 11, 2009 03:30AM

I am so thankful for this forum- it has given my mind a sense of peace. I did learn how to get sober at Choices, but eventually it became too much. I have only been out a short time, but already I am doing well and happier than ever. And sober! There is life outside of Choices!

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: BW213 ()
Date: July 11, 2009 03:45AM

The saddest part about all of this is that Choices has a remarkable track record with crack and heroin addicts. One of my former sponsees contacted me to tell me she relapsed and her parents want to send her back to Choices. She was traumatized by her previous experience but now is using IV drugs and really needs help.

Choices reminds me of chemotherapy. It makes you sick, tears you apart, weakens you, but hopefully helps in the end. They helped me with so many aspects of my life and I saw "gutter" addicts stay clean. It's so hard to weigh out the benefit/damage when faced with someone who needs help.

And as a side note, I'm very grateful for this forum too. My boyfriend told me that there must be at least one of these out there and I'm so glad I looked for it. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one out there.

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: free2be ()
Date: July 11, 2009 04:00AM

Agreed- I was one of those gutter heroin addicts. If you were a heroin addict at Choices, you were on the bottom rung of everything- Choices scum. That is how it felt. It would have taken me over a year to get a phone and probably two to get my car. I was very depressed. I still feel so afraid of the people there because I relapsed and I know they all judge me. I went to inpatient the day after I relapsed and I am still sober and have a wonderful life. I have regular contact with my family, a job, and lots of friends in AA. I am also happy!

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: ebo ()
Date: July 13, 2009 11:59PM

hi everyone. I hope my experience can help someone. Hi BW213, Branwynne, if you are who I think you are. I'm Eirik, from Norway (Eirik the red). I arrived at Choices october 1999 and left january 2000. Don't know if you remember me. (I also came back for 5 weeks next xmas.) I went to London to another treament centre to continue getting help, as I needed it!

I had a lot of help from Choices, and I am unsure that I would be clean without them, knowing exactly the kind of heroin addict I was. On the flip side, my recovery would have frozen up in shame and self-doubt if I had stayed on. I guess I was lucky that I was "forced" to leave due to my tourist visa expired. Arriving in London I thought for YEARS that my recovery was shit and that everybody else's recovery was shit also, not exactly great for a newcomer like myself to have the bar set so high and that I would always fall short. It was a merry-go-around of beating myself up. And I couldn't shake it. Not until I did some massive work in therapy around my childhood. What has become crystal clear to me now is that a lot of the "help" at Choices is very shame based and is basically just projections of people's shame onto eachother, and that my shame hooked onto it all and held on to it. It's very addictive.

Also I got really hung up in their sex addiction recovery, which I have found to be damaging or at least questionable. But SA has some of that blame to take (read: ridgid), as I think the SA book is very questionable. I went down the route of SAA instead and it has been the love and tolerance that has healed this addict. Not confrontations and consequences on top of my own self-loathing when I've done something I didn't really want to.

I want to be careful not to see my experience at Choices as black and white, as all I''m really doing then is to be confrontational, but initially I went through rage when I started to understand what was going on in me as a result of believing every word they said about everything. Now I feel free. I have almost 10 years of cleantime from substances, I am in a loving caring relationship (now THAT did take a while) and I got my finances under control after throwing myself into DA. My default still is to sit on the sofa and watch crap TV, play too much computer games and look at attractive girls, but I don't feel ashamed, and my tolerance towards these things gets less and less (actually I hardly watch much TV and after 5 minutes of online gaming I'm bored and attractive girls are... well they are just attractive) It means I have a pretty normal life, I work, I play, I see friends and family, I have moments of true happiness and moments of "what's the point anyway". This again means I'm a human being and I love myself for it. It just couldn't get any better coming from where I come from.

I have no contact with the community after I discovered my rage 5 years back. I don't feel at the moment I want to either. It's just a life I can't really relate to over there, a tad too "cultish" for my taste. Hell man, I think AA/NA is too cultish! Haha.

Love, Eirik

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: ebo ()
Date: July 17, 2009 12:07AM

well I've had another wave of anger come up around having lived a limited life according to messages in my head from choices. that's good as I will have more freedom within myself later in the process. Just thought I'd share it here if someone else might get something from it.

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Date: July 17, 2009 09:38PM

My exit from Choices

I had a friend who got out about 6 months before me. Luckily she offered to let me live with her. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done because the group had already deemed her as "relapsed beyond repair" and had shunned her. I was having alot of problems with my current roomate at the time and was at the point where I didn't even want to talk about it or work on it with anyone, I just wanted out. I made an appointment with my counselor and told her I was moving out and moving in with this outcast friend. My counselor went to work on me, making me think I was crazy, in relapse myself, avoiding my problems with my roomate, she did everything she could to make me believe I would never make it on the outside and would go right back to using again and she threatened not to treat me anymore if I left. Please understand that I had been with this group of 100 people for 5 years plus 2 more in self help groups where I had met them. They helped me recover from alcohol, food addiction and other things but at some point the side effects got to be worse than the disease. I did not think I could not trust my own feelings and thoughts. She almost had me convinced to stay. But I knew that my higher power was calling me to just go. so I asked for my discharge papers very calmly and quietly, over and over again. She finally had to give them to me. funny thing was, my discharge report was pretty positive, it focused on the good things I had accomplished. I appreciated that. I moved in with my friend and began a long journey, with her help, back to my sense of self and God. Only a couple of my former friends there stay in contact with me. That was hard but I made new friends through my church which they had tried to get me to not go to. Today I manage my food addiction through a Christian recovery group called Celebrate Recovery, am happily married with a sweet two year old son. It can be done! You can do it!

I had to listen to God speaking to my heart and follow it no matter what they tried to tell me. I have a higher power and they are not it. They did not create me and they don't love me like my Heavenly Father does. These are men and women who put their pants on everyday just like me. They have no right to be my God for me. I quietly made my exit plan, made a promise to myself that the feelings of being trapped were real and I would do what ever it took to break free. I didn't run away, I faced them and backed out the door.

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: HappilyMarried ()
Date: July 27, 2009 09:38PM


I too am recovering from Choices.. I was there for seven years and left over three years ago. I still experience trauma, anger and have had difficulty trusting others as a result of what happened, but I am also a lot stronger than I have ever been, with a much stronger sense of myself.

I can't say that I did not gain anything from Choices, because I did... even if a lot of the strength I gained from them was from learning what I don't want.. sometimes I am grateful to them and sometimes I feel abused by them... it's both really...

When I came across this blog yesterday, I was so glad that there is a forum now to talk about Choices and I will check in again soon and tell you more about my experiences... I do know some of you and my heart goes out to you... I want to validate everything you have said....

Happily Married

Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: highpockets ()
Date: August 26, 2009 11:53PM


I am still struggling with some of the aftermath of having been a long term Choices client. Would it be possible to connect by either personal email or by phone with the founder of this site. Thank you, highpockets

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