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Celebrate Recovery program celebrates one-year anniversary

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MASSENA - A Christian-based program whose goal is to help those with addictions recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

“Celebrate Recovery” started in October 2011 and is still going strong, according to Christine J. Atcheson, staff pastor at New Testament Church and organizer of the program which meets Wednesday evenings at the Cross Current Youth Ministries, 58 Main St., next to the town hall in Massena.

“Celebrate Recovery” is what they call “a Christ-centered recovery program” that gives people the resources and relationships to help recover from life’s hurts, habits and hang-ups. It’s for anyone who has struggled or is struggling with past or current dysfunctions or compulsions.

Ms. Atcheson has called it “a Christian equivalent of a 12-step program,” noting that unlike groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous “in this program the higher power is God.”

“It’s a year-long program for men and women. We’re starting our second year. For people who want to come it’s a wonderful place to come,” Ms. Atcheson said.

“Anyone can walk through the door. It’s just ordinary people. It’s not just drug addicts and alcoholics. We deal with any kind of addiction or bad habit that gets in the way of life. If they have a habit they can’t control, that’s messing up their life, they can come. Whatever the issue is, it’s a way to medicate ourselves if something is not quite right,” she said.

The Wednesday sessions start at 6 p.m. as a group.

“We open up with a teaching for the night. People also put their own personal stories in it. They have all worked through stuff themselves, which makes it real,” Ms. Atcheson said.

From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., participants are broken down into groups by gender. If the group gets too big, they’re broken down further by their addiction, whether it’s drugs, gambling or alcohol, or even nicotine, food or pornography. It could even be a workaholic who is never home with the family.

“They break into at least two groups, male and female. If a group gets too big we break into two more groups,” Ms. Atcheson said.

In the year that the program has existed, she said their largest group was about 22 people one night.

“It’s all ages. The youngest was about 18. The oldest who quit smoking was in her 70s,” she said.

The program has been beneficial for some people, according to the staff pastor.

“We’ve had some amazing success stories,” she said, noting one woman was married and doing drugs and alcohol. “It was almost to the point where her marriage was in danger, her job was in danger and her children were in danger.”

In that case, Ms. Atcheson said, she worked with a local rehabilitation center to see if the woman would be considered a candidate. She was, and successfully completed 30 days in a rehab program.

Another woman’s son will be incarcerated for drugs.

“She comes to get support, love and advice,” she said.

There are also activities such as camping and barbecues outside of the Wednesday night environment. Those are held about once every month or two.

With time, Ms. Atcheson said, the groups gel together.

“Sharing week after week with people, you become like a family,” she said.

For more information on Celebrate Recovery, contact Ms. Atcheson at 769-9951.

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