Starfish Recovery & Wellness is the leading recovery organization for the use of holistic wellness as a tool to improve recovery outcomes. Starfish Recovery & Wellness’ unique approach is designed to increase the likelihood of long term recovery via its “whole person” approach: addressing the emotional, mental, social, physical, and educational needs of our residents. These five areas are represented by the five arms of a Starfish.
We implement a diverse set of evidence based wellness practices in addition to traditional recovery pathways. What are those practices? CrossFit, yoga, sound healing, storywork, breathwork, and mindfulness practices. All of these modalities are available to all residents at all stages of recovery, and are facilitated by licensed or credentialed practitioners for each field. Each of these modalities was chosen because one or more studies indicate their efficacy for improvement of recovery outcomes.
We also encourage the residents to practice the recovery pathway that resonates with them, whether that be 12-step, SMART Recovery, Faith Based, Dharma, or other recognized pathways. Our staff has included people following each of these pathways, which allows for modeling of each of their benefits and outcomes.
Identifying and managing your emotions, or “choosing how you feel” is a crucial skill for those in early recovery. Our mindfulness program provides our residents with training in focusing on the present moment without judgment. Over time, they develop a set of tools, including body scanning, meditation, and guided imagery, that allow them to bring their best selves to each moment and each day, regardless of the life challenges that arise. Our partnership with the InnerWork Center allows us to offer weekly mindfulness classes.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.† It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control.” Many individuals who develop substance use disorders (SUD) are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa.2,3 We team with clinical partners to addressing the disease of addiction.
Isolation and loneliness is considered an indicator, driver, or trigger for substance use disorder. Our program is designed to strengthen social relationships and promote community. Shared experiences, especially those that teach a new skill or create a sense of team building and accomplishment, promote camaraderie and encourage the development and maintenance of deep, long-lasting bonds. Some examples of the shared experiences Starfish offers are our yoga, CrossFit, or creative arts activities.
Exercise releases natural chemicals in the brain that increases focus, mood, and energy. In relation to addiction and recovery, studies show that CrossFit, specifically, creates a socially supportive environment, increases preference for and tolerance to exercise, and decreases depression and anxiety. The social support, the sense of community and belonging, and the teamwork CrossFit fosters are all keys to expediting our brain’s healing process. We team with Shockoe Bottom Performance to offer CrossFit to all of our participants every week.
Our recovery curriculum, WELLBEING, was developed to align with Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s) for Health. It empowers and educates our residents not just about the disease of addiction, but with science-driven coping and life management skills. Using a lesson plan model, the curriculum helps examine the causes of addiction and provides practical strategies to further personal recovery goals. WELLBEING provides the foundation for a lifelong pursuit of recovery, health, wholeness, and tools for wellness.