RECO Intensive is an addiction treatment facility with empathy at its core. It’s Founder, David Niknafs, and Director of Communications, Christopher Pasquale, understand the struggle first-hand and have personally experienced what it takes to guide people through the treatment process. They relate to their patients on a very close-knit basis, treating them with a delicate balance of tight structure and tender loving care. If I had to sum up their treatment environment in one word, I’d choose the word “family”. Their objective is to create a nurturing environment that fosters recovery in a special and unique way.
The intimate process is evident from the very start. Prospective patients are invited to tour the facility to see exactly where they will live and what they’ll be exposed to. David and Chris even go so far as to invite potential clients to sit in on a group meeting to see how things operate, where all questions are welcome. This process enables everyone to see if RECO is a good fit for the patient, and also gives the treatment specialists the chance to evaluate if the patient will succeed in that environment. After all, the most promising path to recovery begins with a committed and willing participant.
One thing in particular that I found compelling, is that David and Chris both firmly believe that all addictions can be traced back to the same root cause. Whether someone is addicted to sex, drugs, alcohol, video gaming or even social media, there is a single driving force behind those behaviors. It’s interesting because, at the outset, they’ll have group sessions involving people with all different types of addiction, who wonder what they could possibly learn from others who they don’t believe share the same problem. However, as the conversation progresses, they quickly begin to realize exactly how much they DO have in common. It’s a fascinating experience to behold. As a result, most patients gain unique insight into their disease, emphasizing the point that recovery requires a lot more than mere sobriety.
As we see with most treatment facilities nowadays, RECO is particularly patient centric. The US Surgeon General’s 2016 report Facing Addiction in America made it clear that evidence-based treatment works best when it’s modified to the individual so that he or she can relate to it better. RECO adopted this strategy prior to that Report and their treatment methods continue to evolve along with the needs of its patients. “As society changes, and the individuals seeking treatment are raised differently, we have to re-examine how we approach the process,” Chris remarked. “You’d be amazed at just how much things have changed in just the past five years alone.” RECO recognizes the need to be flexible and stay on top the latest trends to meet their patients where they’re at in their lives. RECO also firmly believes in creating a strong, direct and personal bond with everyone who comes through their doors because that’s what it takes to succeed.
In addition to traditional therapy, RECO likes to mix things up with equine and art therapy, involvement in community service through a local charity, by offering yoga and chiropractic services, and providing career preparation and advice. It’s part of their whole-person approach. The best way to keep a patient active and engaged in their treatment and transition to recovery is by making it fresh and interesting. The funny thing is that some patients may not even want to do these extracurricular activities in the beginning, but once they do it becomes their favorite part of the program. It’s a subtle lesson in willingness and open-mindedness, two key elements essential for recovery.
What sets RECO apart is that the administration invests a lot of time into aftercare. Everyone officially becomes part of Team RECO at the conclusion of treatment. They treat as many as 450 patients a year, most of whom then want to “pay-it-forward” creating a dedicated recovery biosphere. RECO utilizes its incredible resource of alumni, many of whom live nearby, to help foster the recovery of those in treatment. They call them “Accountabillibuddies”. It’s a name that might make you chuckle, but with a simple word they make a powerful point. You can’t go this alone, even after treatment, and we’re here to help you maintain your sobriety long after your last fee has been paid. And, it’s not just about meetings. RECO has a volleyball team that plays against other facilities, they go out to dinners and take part in other fun activities as well. The best part is that they all do it because they want to, not because they have to.
What makes Bruce and Chris so dedicated? They come at the disease of addiction from both sides of the equation. David went through five different types of treatment, gaining invaluable experience as to what worked and what didn’t on a very personal basis. Then, after his hard-fought sobriety, he began working as a tech (an entry level position) on the graveyard shift, the least popular assignment. Yet, he loved it and worked his way up from there. He found his passion and chased the “American Dream” at the same time, while saving people’s lives. What could possibly be better than that? Chris had his own brushes with the disease, which took the saddest of turns when he lost his brother to addiction. Chris reached out to a Pastor finding both his Higher Power and the moral values that come with the process. He went on to graduate from college, with a calling for teaching, and found a position into he New Jersey jail system, as a counselor. That’s where he learned first-hand the reality that 70-80% of the people in prison are there, in one way or another, as a result of addiction. He found his new calling.
One of the more interesting developments they’ve seen as of late is greater diversity in their patient population. In the past, treatment was heavily weighted toward young to middle aged white males. However, with the growing opioid epidemic and greater awareness of the urgency for treating addiction as a disease, the people seeking addiction now run the gamut of both genders, in ages, and throughout all ethnicities. They also notice that the younger patients have no appreciation for consequences. That’s always somewhat been the case for late teens and young adults, but it’s now evident to the extreme. While it’s significantly problematic that they’re taking greater chances than ever and have a clear lack of respect for authority, they also give little thought to the value of their own lives. That’s why it’s so dangerous. Therefore, many of them readily embrace the discipline of a 12 step program because it finally helps them find order in their disorganized lives. It’s an order they’ve unconsciously been yearning for that provides comfort, aiding in their progress.
Returning to the theme of family, David and Chris integrally involve staff in all parts of the program. The RECO magic has everyone involved in the process, from patient to president, as vested stakeholders in recovery. In fact, many staff members were once patients, now many years clean and sober, being given the same opportunity David once was – and look how great that turned out! RECO believes in creating opportunity and giving second chances, it’s in its DNA, which is a key reason they are so successful at shepherding people in the right direction on their road to recovery.