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Their Brother’s Keepers – How Still Waters Started
By Heath Chitwood, Program Director

Their Brother’s Keepers – How Still Waters Started

In April 2009, Cumberland Heights CEO, pitched an idea to me for a new program. During the course of that meeting he shared an idea and vision for an incredible new program. He said he wanted me to go down to Lobelville, TN., and start a program for alcoholics and addicts who desired to recover. He said he wanted it done like it was 30 years ago when he got sober, back when programs were based on the spiritual principles of the 12-steps, men talked about God, they rigorously studied the approved literature, and did intense step-work. I told him he was crazy. He told me to pray and talk to my sponsor. So I did.

 

After much prayer, many consultations with my sponsor and a Monday morning deadline I took the leap. Nearly six years later I find myself writing this article. It was the best decision ever made and has led to one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had.

 

Forming Still Waters had its challenges. We needed two things: a team of 12 Step specialists and men to treat.

 

To build our team we sought out solid individuals we respectfully referred to as “front row 12 steppers.” These are individuals who had sponsors and sponsees, home groups, thorough knowledge of the literature and skills to relay that knowledge. Well, we found them and the success of this program is due to the tireless commitment of those counselors and staff who could cut through the denial, dishonesty, and delusions the disease of addiction uses on us to battle this horrific malady on a daily basis.

 

Once the facility was prepared and the staff put in place we crossed our fingers and prayed to fill a handful of our 12 available beds to willing addicted sufferers. Today we have grown our facilities to 20 beds and many times maintain a waiting list for incoming residents. As of late 2014 we have held more than 350 commencements, and we’ve treated men aged 18 to 75 from every corner of the country. Our counseling staff has tripled in size. We have 4 full-time volunteers who assist our housekeeper, facilities director and chef. The average length of stay for our residents has increased from the standard 30 days to between 45 and 60 days in order to build a more solid foundation of recovery.

 

We have nearly 20 graduates working in various aptitudes of the alcohol and drug treatment field and approximately 80% of our graduates transition to a sober living home. Our follow-up studies tell us the most rewarding part of this profession, that over 50% of the men who complete our program are sober today! That’s incredible numbers.

 

The most blessed and beautiful thing is we set out to build a recovery program and in the process we built a recovery brotherhood of men who realize they have to stand together or they will die alone. A Recovery Brotherhood that truly believes they are their “Brother’s Keepers.”

 

Heath Chitwood
Program Director
Still Waters – A Men’s 12-Step Retreat

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