SUMMIT LODGE RECOVERY CENTER FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Joel Hanson MD,
Visit by Lon Woodbury on Feb. 3, 2010
The drive to Summit Lodge was just a few minutes from downtown Fairview Utah up against the mountains surrounding the valley. I was informed that just continuing past the Center up the mountainside the road would bring me to all kinds of fishing streams and fantastic views. Many of the experiential outings of the residents take place up there.
Summit Lodge is a co-ed Recovery Center for young adults ages 18 and older. Founded in 2007, I have been hearing a lot of good things about them and was looking forward to seeing it for myself.
Not only was the program located in a very rural part of Utah, but the spacious main Lodge was away from the community and gave quite an isolated feeling. Something away from all the temptations of modern society is exactly what the residents need and is what the location provides.
Approaching the main building, it looks like an modern upscale home. The interior gave even more of a sense of a home, with a living room with comfortable chairs and sofas, tastefully decorated, and a kitchen table adequate for a large family. With no more than 16 residents, every effort is made to make the residents feel that while they are there they are part of a family. The grounds were covered with snow at the time, but it had been landscaped with trees, bushes, pathways and little coves to facilitate meditating and outdoor conversations when the weather is suitable. They have six acres, which gives plenty of room for outside activities close to the home. A quick trip up the mountainside offers easy access to adventure and experiential activities like fishing, hiking, camping etc., which are equal parts recreation and therapy.
In my quick tour of the building I found all the rooms were designed for comfort and restfulness. The bedrooms were more utilitarian than the rest of the house but clean and neat. Part of the program is to get the residents interacting with the other residents and the staff. They don't want the residents to have much of an opportunity to hide and avoid others so basic bedrooms are part of the plan and the residents are discouraged from spending more time there than absolutely necessary. The staff take great pains in providing a restful environment, reasoning that the milieu, that is the whole living environment, is an important part of the healing process. There were ten residents at the time of my visit which seemed a comfortable size.
Resident responsibility is another important element of the program, with the residents responsible for keeping their bedrooms tidy and helping with chores around the home. I saw several residents during my time there, and my impression was "relaxed activity." I sensed a calmness and sense of safety in them even though some were in sessions that seemed to be dealing with issues that were quite intense.
Summit Lodge is a dual diagnosis facility, with addiction being the primary diagnosis. They have the capability of providing detoxification services, so when a resident needs to detox, they can have a smooth transition from detox into the 45+ day program without the disruption of changing programs and all the potential upsets that can cause.
They consider the leading change agent as spiritual change. Church services are available in the nearby community and the spiritual aspect of their healing activities is referred to often. It is a 12-step program with usually six group types each day for each resident.
Family integration is an important emphasis. Families are invited to the facility on a regular basis and much of the three day visits is devoted to experiential activites, including equine and sweat lodges. The goal is to help both the resident and their families learn new and more healthy ways of interacting.
At the end of the tour, two residents, a male and a female, were invited into a room with me and they left the three of us to talk about the program. Both were articulate and spoke freely of their past problems, what they thought of the program, and some of their hopes and dreams for taking back their lives after completing the program. Their eye contact was good and they presented well. Both had been in programs before, and described Summit Lodge as what they had been looking for in the previous programs but had been disappointed. When I asked one of my favorite questions as to what changes to the program might have been helpful to them, they really couldn't come up with anything. In their view, at Summit Lodge they had received exactly what they had needed. They were cautiously optimistic about their future, realizing that it would not be easy to stay clean after returning to mainstream society, but thought they now had the tools they needed.
I couldn't think of a better testimony for any program.