Retreat Testimonials


“There are many pathways to recovery. The Retreat offers people a way to find hope and healing through a unique model that captures the essence of the Twelve Steps. The Retreat is the catalyst for change that many people need to convert a head filled with treatment into a heart full of recovery. . . . The Twelve Step program works when we work it, and The Retreat helps people work it.”

—William Cope Moyers, V.P. of Public Affairs & Community Relations, Hazelden



“The Retreat is the greatest thing that has happened in the recovery field in a long, long time. Essentially, The Retreat has gone back to what works to get people sober. It has returned to the basics, which means focusing on the spiritual principles of recovery—the Twelve Steps. It gives people what they need to recover, and that’s why The Retreat has been so successful. It is first and foremost on my list of centers.”



“Mainstream treatment centers today have gotten away from the Twelve Steps. You don’t even hear the word ‘spiritual’ anymore. And if a patient doesn’t get the basics, they’re not going to stay sober. The Retreat employs a simple, quieter, spiritually based approach to care. They stick with the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions—the spiritual comes first. They believe in the original mission of addressing the illness, and they do it with the utmost dignity and respect for the patient.”

—Diane Alexander, therapist in private practice for over 30 years, Dallas, Texas



“The Retreat’s success is due largely to the Twelve Steps. The people who struggle with the problem are the people who deliver the message of recovery, or share their successes. It’s not theoretical or abstract-based; it’s the experience of the program, and you can’t argue with experience. Everyone on our staff is in recovery; we know it works. The people who come to The Retreat are integrated into the community of recovery right away. The message is very clear here: to keep the program, you must give it away.”




“We provide a mutually supportive, educational residential program with more than 300 volunteers interacting with our guests. Our volunteers—passionate about the Twelve Step solution to recovery—are the direct agents of change at The Retreat. It’s God working through community. It’s a wonderful philosophy. We’re all in this together. Every day these volunteers model to our guests what it’s like to be an active member of the recovery community. Our guests are surrounded by it, they see it, and they want to live it.”

—Diane Poole, Codependency therapist 



“In a country of 4 million people with only an estimated 100 beds for addiction treatment, the need for a program like The Retreat in New Zealand was tremendous. We are the first volunteer-based residential recovery center in New Zealand. We received the full cooperation of The Retreat and we were able to experience the spirit of their program. Just as it is displayed with their guests, we received the same in our weeklong observance of The Retreat—balanced with integrity, professionalism and the spiritual approach, which is where we’re all coming from. We’re so grateful to John [Curtiss] and his team; it’s been amazing.”

—Roger Green, CEO of The New Zealand Retreat, a Retreat-model program in Auckland, New Zealand



“An emerging criticism of addiction treatment today is that it has departed from the more enduring aspect of recovery—from peer-based communities of recovery. A model like the Retreat is an effort to connect treatment to recovery. There’s a movement out there to get back to the basics to help ensure long-term recovery. Places like the Retreat will help fill the need for affordable, effective recovery…. The Retreat’s strength is connecting people to the best recovery resources and immersing them in the recovery community.”

—William L. White, Senior research consultant at Chestnut Health Systems/Lighthouse Institute and author of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America



“The potential for the Retreat model is unlimited. It’s a sad commentary on our health care system when 90 percent of the people in the country who need addiction care never access it. So, if we can provide an affordable alternative such as The Retreat, we can remove one of the biggest barriers to care.”



“Not wanting to reinvent the light bulb, we saw what had worked at The Retreat in the Twin Cities and we were very excited to bring all the lessons learned up there to Sioux Falls. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to draw upon the many years of experience represented by The Retreat. We have no question that what we’re doing is the right thing, because The Retreat has already proven it.”

—Kevin Kirby, Chairman and founder of TLC Tall Grass, a Retreat-model program in Sioux Falls, S.D.



“From the Retreat’s humble beginnings, it had all the right stuff to be successful: compelling mission, respected leaders, and innovative concept. The people behind the Retreat were revered in the recovery community—George Mann, John Curtiss and others on the Board—and they all shared a common vision and a mission widely accepted as meeting a critical need. People who know and understand the Twelve Steps saw the diminishing role the Steps and AA were playing in mainstream addiction treatment. They saw the high cost of treatment and a system that was greatly flawed, one that was limiting access to care. All these elements combined to make the Retreat a very practical, viable model of care."



“Much like AA, The Retreat offers a program of attraction, not promotion. And that’s really what the Retreat has been; people want what we have here, and they want to be a part of a vibrant recovering community."



“I love working for The Retreat because it’s a place with tremendous heart and soul. It has all the hallmarks of a successful nonprofit center: A Board that really cares, a compelling mission, innovative approach, dignity and respect, a caring culture, an attitude of gratitude, humility, strong governance, and hundreds of volunteers who want to be part of the solution. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that.”

—Bruce Binger, former V.P. of Development, The Retreat



“The Retreat model definitely has potential for widespread expansion. All it needs is one or two addiction counselors and administrative staff. Ideally, the center needs to be located in an area where AA is already established.”

—Dr. Wayne Moran, Medical Director, Recovery Works, a Retreat-model program in Hong Kong



“I had almost given up before I called The Retreat—the other centers I called were all so expensive and the people answering the phones were not at all helpful after they heard I had no money. The Retreat staff explained what your program had to offer and how it could change my life…. The people at The Retreat went above and beyond my expectations. That caring community approach has been such a blessing to me and my family and I’m sure to others you have helped.”




“Thank for all the time, care and kindness that you have shown my daughter. We were truly despairing, afraid of losing our daughter, having watched her go from a bright, vivacious, warm and loving young woman with a very promising career to a depressed, guilt-ridden, angry person all in the space of a few months….I know she has many months of hard work still to go, but she is well on the road to recovery. Truly you work miracles out there and I don’t know how to thank you enough for your dedication and kindness.”




AA just might be the closest thing public health has to a free lunch.



“Empathy, compassion and kindness – engaging mutual help at the heart – are vital ingredients. The Retreat appears to do this part well – helping those with addiction understand and live those same principles inherent in 12 Step programs.”

—Dr. John Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine, Harvard Medical School and founder and director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital


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