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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.

Ms. Atcheson has called the program “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.”

“For people who want to come, it’s a wonderful place,” 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,” she said.

The sessions start at 6 p.m.

“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 smaller groups by gender. If a group gets too big, it’s broken down further by 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.

In the year that the program has existed, Ms. Atcheson said, the 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 help the woman, who successfully completed a 30-day drug rehabilitation program.

There are also activities such as camping and barbecues outside of the Wednesday night meetings. 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, contact Ms. Atcheson at 769-9951.

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