Living Beyond Addiction in Baja California

Living beyond addiction in Baja California is possible. Hundreds of people are doing just that. CRREAD, loosely translated as the center for rehab and reintegration for the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction, just south of Rosarito Beach, is easy to see from the road. It is a bright orange 3-story building and landmark. CRREAD is Baja California’s facility for cleaning up one’s act and committing to a life free of drugs and alcohol. Two men have offered to share their direct experience of this community resource. The 12-Step program requires, so I use only their first names. Bob gained sobriety in CRREAD and is here to tell his story and Thom came for a tour. Both men are clean and sober and living in Baja.

Years ago, Bob moved to Baja with his wife. He admits Sober living near you that it was after his retirement at age 60 that his drinking began in earnest. Bob “hit bottom” the day an unscrupulous man, posing as a friend, took his money and dumped him at the facility’s door with only the clothes on his back. Thom, 16 years clean and sober, has just moved to Baja and purchased a home. He took his first tour of CRREAD where nearly 200 men live in spotless living condition with only one goal, to get sober and stay clean.

As an American and non Spanish speaker, Bob had his work cut out for him. But he admits that while the language was a barrier in gaining the information about the disease of alcoholism, it also was an opportunity for personal “reflection.” The first stages of withdrawal from alcohol are tough. The facility is fully equipped to help with detox and a doctor is on call to monitor the alcoholic’s progress. Bob says that most everyone who comes in just eats and sleeps the first few days. They are fully taken care of, in fact Bob admits that the biggest impact for him was when he realized that the staff “really cared that I got well.”

As Bob began to regain his health, he was given work assignments. He says that the work benefits all the men living in CRREAD. “There are personality traits that are lacking in an alcoholic, and the program begins to reinforce good life choices and work ethics. To work is a big deal – to work is a privilege.” Bob reiterates. “In CRREAD you become a trusted employee and this has to be earned.”

Thom, 16 years clean and sober, has recently moved to Baja. He found his sobriety in a U.S. facility and was curious about how CRREAD would compare.”I was very impressed. I felt proud because of what Mexico has done for the people, my people.” Thom was amazed by the beauty of the craftsmanship inside the building, especially since the men did all the work themselves. He said it is as good and even better in some ways than stateside facilities as the men can stay as long as needed being charged only what they can afford. Thom appreciated the levels of sobriety that are laid out clearly. The men’s accomplishments are rewarded as they gain control over the addiction.

Thom shared, “I was so touched that I wanted to be part of it, to somehow help in the men’s transition. He stressed the need for community support especially with food. “Feeding nearly 200 men is a huge undertaking. Yes, beans and rice can go a long way, but the need for simple basics like eggs, milk, bread, tortillas, some fruits and vegetable would really serve them well.” He also was glad to find that there was a strong AA group in Rosarito. “Going to meetings, getting a sponsor, is a must for the long haul.”

What goes unnoticed is that CRREAD is a true support system for the entire community. It is not just about 200 men, it is also about the families getting their fathers, husbands, brothers returned home healthy and productive. This naturally creates a more healthy community.

Bob adds he was changed in important ways in his three month rehab. “I gained Humility, Honesty and Self Respect.” Bob would definitely recommend Americans utilize CRREAD, even if they do not speak Spanish. Admittedly, he said, it would be easier if some English was available, but then he grins, “IF they want to really get clean and sober this is the place to come.

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