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Working towards a better solution with Therapeutic Recovery Models

How San Patrignano’s Therapeutic Communities can help our action against addiction
Following his visit to the San Patrignano’s Therapeutic Community, PASS created their own Therapeutic Recovery Centre in Port Alberni!

When Port Alberni Shelter Society’s (PASS) John Douglas and Wes Hewitt spent a week touring San Patrignano’s Therapeutic Communities, one thing became evidently clear: Canada’s approach in the battle against addiction isn’t working nearly as well as it could be.

Here, recovery programs don’t offer enough time to address the needs of clients, explains the Special Projects Coordinator for the PASS. The typical four- and six-week timelines are simply not adequate in helping individuals rebuild, restructure, reintegrate and move forward with their lives.

As such, John calls for longer recovery programs in Canada, strongly influenced by his time in San Patrignano.

RELATED READING: Port Alberni Shelter Society opens the door to new recovery models

San Patrignano, Italy

Touring the 650-acre facility, John discovered how supported clients were in becoming self-sustainable. Working within social enterprise models, they help create revenue which in turn funds accommodations and programming costs. This also allows for recovery to be provided free of charge.

He recalls one 24-year-old resident working in the leather sector and making fashion accessories for retail markets, and he was inspired by the program’s impact on her.

“I am so glad about it because it means that people in here trust me, but the most important thing is for myself and my self-esteem. I can make beautiful and great things without drugs. It means a lot to me,” she explained. “Now, step by step, I am learning how to appreciate things, how to keep them. I’m trying to carry on without weariness, I need to be strong, appreciating the environment around me… I’m working on it! I am proud of who I am becoming and I don’t mind to remember who I have been.”

Due to the Italian program’s success, several other facilities have modelled their practices upon its model.

It was also the inspiration for Port Alberni’s own Therapeutic Recovery Centre, with the PASS Shelter Farm.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution

With no all-inclusive solution for addiction, it’s important to understand that the answer can be found from a host of options, including meeting difficult challenges head on, successfully making difficult decisions, setting schedules and goals and working alongside mentors. While there’s no one magic solution offering the same effectiveness for every individual, success can come from Therapeutic Communities.

To learn more about all the hard work the Port Alberni Shelter Society does, visit at