La Verna Lodge offers healing environment for those in recovery

Peaceful. Simple. Private.

Those are some of the words commonly used to describe La Verna Lodge for Men, an extended residential treatment program offered by Fairbanks.

Established in 1998, La Verna Lodge for Men is a nationally-recognized program that provides extended care for men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Sitting on seven mostly wooded acres north of Indianapolis, the lodge offers a serene environment where clients can refocus on their body, mind and spirit as they learn life skills, tools and values necessary for a life in recovery.

La Verna Lodge has the capacity to house up to 14 men at once. The average stay is about 45 days, though it’s not unusual for clients to remain for up to 90 days. Those who enroll are asked to commit to staying at least 30 days, though counselors may recommend more. Staff are onsite 24/7 and counselors are there every day.

Scott Adams was a team lead and later clinical supervisor in Fairbanks’ Intensive Outpatient program before becoming manager of La Verna Lodge for Men. He sees distinct differences between the services.

“With outpatient you tend to get more people with varying motivations,” Adams said. “Most recognized there was something going on that they needed to address, but they don’t exactly know what they need to do.”

Add to that the stress of figuring out what the rest of your life is going to look like – from working and spending time with family to managing finances.

“La Verna Lodge for Men gives people the opportunity – maybe even prevents them from – having to deal with all that stuff so they have to focus on themselves,” Adams said. “Yes they have all those things, but if they aren’t focusing on themselves the rest of that isn’t going to matter because they’re going to lose it all. Here it’s really just them working the program 24/7.”

He admits that can be rigorous for clients. A typical weekday starts with group therapy at 8 a.m. Other than lunch and a trip to the YMCA for exercise, it’s group work and meetings all day and into the evening.

“You do that enough it can be exhausting, but also gives them a reprieve and structure that maybe they didn’t have before,” Adams said. “If they weren’t sure about addressing their issues before coming to a place like this, they really have to examine it for themselves.”

Clients are given individual time, but not enough where they could isolate themselves from the rest of the group.

“The guys are pretty self-sufficient,” Adams said. “It’s not too long after they arrive that they realize how cool this place is. We don’t really have people who come here that don’t like it. Even the ones who know something needs to change but they’re not sure what, figure it out pretty quickly.”

Family is a key pillar in their recovery. Clients are able to interact with loved ones during weekly support group meetings and weekend visits.

“We encourage family support and probably have more of that than any other program I’ve been involved with,” Adams said.

He sees a common transformation in guests from when they arrive to La Verna Lodge and when they leave. A perfect example is a lawyer who recently went through the program. He was anxious and depressed upon arrival, and didn’t know how to talk about his feelings. After a week and a half of no change, Adams pulled him aside and encouraged him to open up to the rest of the group.

“He went out there and did it, but coming back to my office afterwards he was visibly shaken,” Adams said. “You could tell he wasn’t convinced it was the right choice. But he didn’t stop after that. It was the door he needed to open for himself.”

Sharing your vulnerabilities may be difficult, but it’s necessary for the recovery process. And it helps that you’re with others dealing with many of the same circumstances. Adams says going through it together often leads to strong bonds.

“Here you’re living together,” he said. “After 30 days of that, it’s not unusual for there to be tears when someone leaves. This turns into lifelong friendships for some of these guys.”

For more information or to schedule an assessment, please call (877) 290-3946 or visit the website www.lavernalodge.com.