Lisa— There is a solution for addictions.

“It’s not just about drug and alcohol issues. It’s about everything in your life.”

Lisa- St. Gregory Graduate

Michelle— I’m extremely happy.

“Being able to communicate effectively has helped me to overcome negativity.”

Michelle- St. Gregory Graduate

Will— There’s a lot more color in my life now.

“This program teaches you how to live a healthy and enriched life.”

Will- St. Gregory Graduate

Alli— They genuinely cared.

“I know how to handle my struggles better now.”

Alli - St. Gregory Graduate

Jill — He just started growing.

“As a mother who loves her son, you want other people to love him as well, and I saw that in your staff.”

Jill - mother of a St. Gregory Graduate

Tom — My life is full of hope.

“Every single thing is being done at a higher level in an effort to help more people.”

Tom - St. Gregory Graduate

David — My thinking changed here.

“It was as though the program was made for exactly what I needed.”

David - St. Gregory Graduate

Bonnie — St. Gregory’s totally changed my life.

“It makes you appreciate not only yourself but the people around you.”

Bonnie - St. Gregory Graduate

Marie — the gift of St. Gregory’s

Before coming to St. Gregory Retreat Centers, I was lost from myself and from God. I’d tried to do 12 steps and had given up on that twice before finding out about St. Gregory’s. I was waiting tables, pretending that I had a dream, but I really was running from reality.

On November 1, 2013, I awoke in an apartment that I hated, in a city that I feared, without anyone near me. I struggled to remember the partying and “fun” of the previous night, and I saw the reality of what my life had become. I no longer could half-commit to change. I knew I had a choice: either I could give in to my addictions, or I could “quit quitting change.” Reforming would mean trusting that there was something better even if I couldn’t see it. That’s what I chose to do, and now, almost a year later, I’m so glad.

No matter how far into recovery I get, it’s far from easy. Temptation always is present. Just because I’m 11 months sober doesn’t mean I don’t miss my previous lifestyle. I also sometimes feel misunderstood by loved ones, and I’ve found it difficult to keep the same friends now that I’m sober. In my recovery at St. Gregory’s, however, I learned that I’m not alone. The discovery of the power of choices that I’m able to make in my God-given dignity is maybe one of the best things to come from treatment.

Things turned around for me when I admitted that I’d have to change. I’d put myself to the test by trying to stay sober before starting at St. Gregory’s. I told myself if I had a drink before Christmas that I’d go away for two months on the spot. Fewer than two weeks after Thanksgiving, I was on my way to Iowa. On the drive to St. Gregory’s, I was forced to acknowledge that my faith, my family, and my time were all less valuable to me than one drink. I wanted out of that cycle of addiction.

St. Gregory’s is responsible for the fact that my life now is full and balanced in a way I never thought possible. I work full time in an entry-level job, and I lead young people in praise and worship, an activity that allows me to use my degree in fine arts. I’m closer to my family, my spiritual life has more depth, I’m more honest, and I’m in a healthful relationship. The more I let go, the more God is able to hold me up.

Since graduating from St. Gregory’s, I’ve continued to move forward. I’m more physically fit, and I gained an aqua-fitness-training license. I’ve received a lot of help from every arena—medical, family, friends, church, and support groups. It’s a life of responsibility. I feel awake, alert, and freer than ever.

You may wonder if my new life sometimes lacks in peace and tranquility since I’m now facing my problems instead of running away from them. Absolutely. But I’m realizing that feeling pain at times is better than feeling nothing. Before, I’d tried to fill up the emptiness with fleeting pleasure. I’ve traded in that numbness for the opportunity for joy.

Life now is about keeping newly formed habits, rejecting old lies, and believing more and more that every day can be better than the last. I’ve learned to put trust in something bigger than myself. I face problems knowing that I believe in God and that God believes in me. too. My life now looks hopeful instead of bleak, valiant instead of selfish. I’ll be forever grateful to St. Gregory’s.

“My life now looks hopeful and valiant.”

Marie - St. Gregory Graduate

Robert — regaining health and happiness

Before entering St. Gregory Retreat Centers, I was battling methamphetamine and opiate addictions. My life was in constant chaos. I knowingly put myself in situations in which I was at risk of losing everything. I moved to a house full of meth dealers, and after a few months of smoking oxycodone pills and meth, I was practically dead. I rarely ate, I weighed 115 pounds, and I was only sleeping every four to five days. I was certain that I was going to die soon, and I was perfectly fine with that.

The day before entering St. Gregory’s, I rolled in 30 minutes late to a probation meeting and was greeted by my lawyer, my parents, and an interventionist. My mom began to read a letter she’d written. I didn’t listen closely since I never wanted to hear what my lack of faith in God had to do with my addictions. Then my dad began to read his letter, and he had tears in his eyes. Never in my life had I seen my father cry. I began to cry as well. When my dad was finished reading, the interventionist said, “Your parents are placing a life-changing opportunity in front of you. You must decide right here, right now, whether you’re ready to get sober and live a better life, or if you want to end up in jail.” I realized that my mom and dad were all that I had. I decided that I would leave behind the life I was living.

I suffered during the week I spent in detox. I had to deal with all of the feelings that I’d suppressed during my year of using drugs. I thought about the friends I’d lost. I remembered the many times I let people walk all over me. On top of all that, I was literally starving to death. All I wanted to do was sleep, but the nurses woke me up to eat. Doctors told me that if I hadn’t been awakened to eat I almost certainly would have died of malnourishment

As I began to feel better, I learned that the St. Gregory’s treatment program isn’t based on the same 12-step model used by Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). I believed in the A.A. program, but I’d failed at the 12 steps time and again. I was certain that there was no hope for my sobriety.

Thanks to the incredible health and wellness program at St. Gregory, however, I began to get healthy. I was able to appreciate that I didn’t have to be damned with this lifelong disease called “alcoholism/addiction.” I was taught that using drugs is 100 percent based on my decisions. I learned that, in order to recover, I had to live a virtuous life.

I considered myself to be an agnostic when I entered this program, and St. Gregory’s in no way pushed me to find God. I discovered God on my own. I realized that God has a hand in everything that happens and that I will ultimately find happiness if I do everything in his name.

My life today is a blessing. I easily can say that I’ll never use drugs again. I attend church almost every day. I look forward to the goals I’ve set for myself, and rarely do I ever feel tempted to use drugs. I’ve found true happiness. I desire to seek goodness in my life. I love my family, my real friends, and most of all, I love being me.

“My life today is a blessing. I easily can say that I will never use drugs again.”

Robert - St. Gregory Graduate

Cathy — in good hands

Everything went like clockwork when my son Carlos and I arrived in Des Moines on a Saturday. Kim, our driver, was talkative and immediately made us feel comfortable. Lisa, the intake nurse, didn’t hesitate to give us a complete tour of the Medical Stabilization Unit. Carlos and I appreciated the overview before he went through the detailed intake process. We even got to meet the massage therapist, who was quite welcoming. I left feeling that my son was in very good hands.

This was my first visit to the state of Iowa, and I found Des Moines to be beautiful. After renting a car to see the area, I discovered Gray’s Lake and took a walk around it on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday morning I drove in a blizzard to Bayard because I wanted to see the town and the rehabilitation center where Carlos would be living for the next two months. I found St. Gregory’s men’s facility with no difficulty. A man was walking out of the building, and I asked if a staff member would allow me to see the interior. A counselor named Nick gave me a wonderful tour and discussed some of the program with me.

When I returned home and shared my experiences with my husband, he was pleased. We’re thankful for the care and consideration on the part of St. Gregory’s staff members, who made our son’s transition into treatment so smooth.

“We’re thankful that our son’s transition into treatment was so smooth.”

Cathy - mother of a St. Gregory Graduate