lettersOne of the great joys in addiction treatment is hearing from our graduates.  While recovery is not easy, and life has many challenges, there are victories that lift us up and help us all move forward.  The following e-mails arrived today and have put a huge smile on my face and energy in my step.

On October 18th I will celebrate three years of sobriety from a severe drug and alcohol addiction that I battled for 15 years.  Today I celebrate the fact that I have been redeemed, and have found my true purpose in life.  Jesus Christ is the reason I am still here on this earth, but St. Joseph Institute is the place where He met me for the first time.  You see… when I was a resident there I was having serious thoughts about ending my life because I thought I would NEVER be able to beat my alcohol and drug addictions.  I never told my counselor of my suicidal thoughts, but on October 29th, 2011 I prayed to a God that I wasn’t sure existed.  I knelt at the foot of my bed feeling hopeless, and worthless, and ready to take my own life when something indescribable occurred.  God entered the room that night, and He met me with Love, Comfort, and Grace.  I felt His hand on my shoulder and heard the words “Chris, you do not have to worry about this anymore. Everything is going to be OK”.  Since that night… I have not had the desire to drink or use; NOT ONE SINGLE TIME!!!  God is REAL!!!  He pulled me out of turmoil, and has blessed me in so many ways.  I have a written testimony that I share all over the state of West Virginia, but to sum up the blessings: God led me to my beautiful wife, and we are expecting a baby this December, I have been able to restore the damage I inflicted on my past relationships, 5 of my family members have accepted Christ into their lives because they simply saw a change in me, and last but not least… I get to help others find healing when they are in a time of need just like I was.

So I just want to say THANK YOU!!! St. Joseph will always have a special place in my heart, and I really appreciate all the love and support I found during my short 30 day stay there. Chris W.


I felt compelled to write you and give you an update about me.

I went to live in the recovery house in Asheville after my stay at St. Joseph’s.  I did three months there and was able to move out and had a job in the banking sector.  While my time there was not “perfect”, it was helpful.  I decided to move home to Idaho to my parent’s home to focus on getting into graduate school again.  I was accepted into a school in Boston for library science / archives management / rare book preservation. After getting an amazing job as a hospital administrator and decided to defer a year and continue working.  I took a deep, hard look at myself and decided that I was just not ready for big city living again – I’m just not strong enough.  I see an addictions therapist quite often, but don’t really do meetings – I found them helpful for a time, but generally found that they remind me too much of my usage and sometimes are a bit too negative for me (I don’t think it is helpful to be called ‘crazy’ the way that word is thrown about with reckless abandon).

Health-wise, I am doing extremely well.  I work out nearly every day and weigh nearly 200 pounds – most of it muscle.

I remain active in the Church, and sometimes even think about a return to religious life.  Time will answer that question as it unfolds.  The time you first gave me Holy Communion at St. Joseph’s remains for me one of the most spiritually impacting moments of my life – it might have been the moment where I decided to let God help me, although none of us ever completely “lets” Him do that, which is why we keep trying, no?

Thank you for all you did for me.  Please feel free to share this with anyone, in the hopes that it might provide some succor to another seeking soul. Michael P.


Most addiction treatment centers in America have used the same program for decades – without great results.  St. Joseph Institute has developed a new approach that is far more personal and strives to help the whole person heal.  Founder Jenny Sheetz explains why “not all rehabs are equal.”


Tears began to roll down the mother’s face as she talked about Emma.  “She was always kind and considerate, such a beautiful girl …and then it all changed when she started using drugs.  Now she lies, is so angry, and has stolen from my husband and me.  Some days I don’t even know who she is.”

Frank’s wife voiced similar despair. “When he is drinking, I am afraid of him.  There are periods of rage that scare us.  When he is out drinking, I have no idea what he is doing, but I’m sure there are other women.  Alcohol has destroyed the man I married.”

Addiction ravages everything it encounters.  It undermines and changes the person we know into someone we cannot recognize and who behaves in ways that defy belief.  Addiction is a thief, and one of the first things it steals is character.

The values that we uphold as good, right, and fair crumble during addiction.  Trustworthiness is replaced with dishonesty, deception, cheating, and stealing.  Compassion fades  as the addicted person becomes consumed with the need to have and use their drug of choice.  Responsibility is chipped away until life is a scrap pile of broken promises, missed deadlines, and incomplete tasks.  Character—the quality that defines who we are  and the standards by which we live—is  lost.

I recall the words of a teacher during the early days of her recovery from several years of prescription drug abuse.  “I have become such a terrible person,” she stated.  “My career requires that I be a role model to the boys and girls who look up to me. I have a responsibility to help them learn how to become good people and strong citizens, but I am a hypocrite.  The person standing at the front of the class is a chronic liar, a thief, and a neglectful parent.  How could I have let myself come to this place?”

Recovery is filled with change and new beginnings, and no task is more important than rebuilding character.  As the addict or alcoholic replaces lies and manipulation with fairness, kindness, patience, self-control, and other virtues, his or her self-image changes and life takes on new purpose and meaning.  On your journey into recovery, reflect on who you want to become.  What should your character be?  When people look at you, what do you want them to see?  When your friends and family describe you to others, what do you hope they will say?

As Helen Keller wrote,  “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” Addiction steals a person’s character  and drags it down to a very low level.  Recovery gives us the opportunity to rebuild character and create the selves we want to become.

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