ABN Member Spotlight: Renovatus Recovery Community

There are many programs that offer help with drug rehabilitation, and because drug use alters the brain’s structure, increasing the risk for relapse, post-treatment programs are a vital part of the rehabilitation process. Since the 1970s, research has shown the most effective treatment addresses the multiple needs of the patient rather than focusing on addiction alone. The same research has shown that medically assisted treatment by itself is also ineffective. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated the best treatment for addiction after detoxification is a combination of medication (if necessary), behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention.

Patient motivation is a huge factor, but treatment programs must include mental health resources and follow-up services structured around a community or family environment to foster good habits. Renovatus is a truly unique program, created by Pete and Beth Higgs, with the mission of providing a safe home, life skills training, and a community environment under Christian discipleship to ensure a successful recovery and transition into a new, healthy life.

After working in other treatment programs, Pete and Beth noticed that people going through recovery often return to their previous habits, usually due to their economic struggles. They created the Renovatus program in an effort to find a holistic approach to addiction treatment by changing the participant’s entire lifestyle, especially their environment. They focus heavily on discipleship, which has always been the foundation of their program, and walk the path of recovery with each person.

They provide a safe home where individuals experiencing an alcohol or drug dependency do not feel the pressure to use, and can develop both life and job skills to allow them set a foundation for lasting recovery. Renovatus became a nonprofit in 2011, and then spent a few years working out the logistics. They received their first family resident in 2013. Their dedication to their mission is clear when you learn they house their participants in an apartment located in the bottom level of their personal residence.

Initially, the program started with families, but Pete and Beth quickly discovered there was little to no development with this arrangement because they were not able to address the root causes of addiction. Pete eventually realized if he could help the individual, he could restore families with a greater success rate.  As he spent more and more time speaking and meeting with people dealing with addiction while in jail, Pete was approached by others who would recommend individuals for his program. It was brought to his attention by some of the other men that there were numerous groups offering counseling or the gospel while incarcerated, but very few had opportunities or assistance with recovery outside. Renovatus now works primarily with men, but this has been an evolution of the program and is purely coincidental. Their program has evolved over the years and will hopefully continue to include more sustainable housing in the future, and become capable of supporting a larger number of participants.

Individuals who enter the program are expected to participate in the job training program on the Renovatus Farm and/or find employment in the community. They live in the guest apartment at the Pete and Beth’s home for the first year. During this period, it is asked that they get their driver’s license, develop an education plan, secure reliable transportation, and pay any debt owed back to society. After the first year, they move into housing located in the restored farmhouse on the family farm. This next stage is usually for an additional year, but sometimes it can be shorter or longer depending on the addiction survivor and their individual needs. Pete and Beth have developed these goals based on benchmarking and studies into effective means of treatment they have researched over the years. They discovered that if someone in remission can reach the two year mark, the odds are more in their favor to stay addiction free.

Inspired by the mission of Renovatus? A great way to support the Renovatus Recovery Community is to join the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm. Members pledge their support at the onset of the growing season for a ‘share’ of the anticipated harvest. Once harvesting begins, the weekly shares of the farm’s crop are distributed to the members who have paid for their enrollment. CSAs are alternatives to traditional grocery stores. They connect the producer and the consumer more directly with both parties sharing the risks of farming. There are many benefits to CSA farming, including a larger variety of produce, fresher produce from elimination of lengthy transportation, and greater support of the local community. Supporting the Renovatus Farm allows them to generate funds for the ministry and provide skills training to their residents. The farm is both a resource and a teaching model, helping the men improve the skills needed to live bountiful, healthy lifestyles. By joining, you are supporting local food production, you’ll enjoy a fresher variety of food weekly, you’ll learn to eat with the seasons, and, most importantly, you’ll help restore people’s lives.

There are also many other ways to get involved. Pete and Beth love volunteers and additional donations, and their website has a list of equipment and supplies that would be helpful for the farm. Pete and Beth believe that a sense of community is imperative for recovery, because it creates programs with people walking alongside of them to provide friendship, mentors, and accountability, which is extremely important for success. Part of the healing process is bringing people into the community to interact and network with its members. Pete wants people to understand that it truly takes a village, and even with their paths, these men are no different from us. They are people who have made some bad choices which have had horrible effects on their lives, friends, and families. Pete and Beth are leading by example and are a testament to the giving spirit that East Tennessee is known for!

Visit www.renovatusrc.org to learn more about their program, the Farm, and how you can get involved today!