Hi, I’m Dr. Kenneth Chance. I’m CEO and founder of the Montana Society and we operate two programs for men, Arrowhead Lodge and Montana Lodge, and I’d like to thank New Directions for Women for giving me the opportunity to talk about men’s spirituality and recovery.
Back when I got sober in 1994, there were some things I needed to talk about in the rooms and Alcoholics Anonymous and I wasn’t really able to talk about it, so a group of us got together and we formed an organization called the Montana Society. It has nothing to do with Montana; we were in Atlanta at the time. Montana is an acronym. It stands for men of new thought and new awareness, and that’s really what the 12‑step program taught us is how to think differently and how to be aware of our authentic selves.
With that in mind, we formed the Montana Society and we talk about all kinds of things important to men — divorce, child support, loss of family, loss of income, loss of job. All the things that happen to us, how do we deal with those in sobriety and how do we find that part of our selves that’s okay despite everything that goes on around us good or bad. How can we be okay as men and not drink again and not use again, and that’s really what the Montana Society is about.
A few years ago we started Montana Lodge in Prescott, Arizona. It’s a recovery program for men, but more than just a traditional recovery program, we really focus on issues that men have difficulty with in connecting with their inner self. Going from their head and their intellect into their heart and their emotion, and being able to be aware of those are crucial and really important in recovery.
We found that by working through these issues in a male-specific way, we are able to help men identify those core issues and those real important fundamental things that we men struggle with like I am the name on the business card and that identifies me with who I really am. It really has nothing to do with who we are. It just tells us what we do for a living and what we do for a career, but we’ve become so caught up in that where we have a lot of difficulty in just admitting our powerlessness over alcohol because what man wants to admit that he’s powerless over anything in life.
Well, we take a different approach to it and we help men understand what that powerlessness is all about. It has nothing to do with as an individual; it has all to do with how they look at the world and how they see the world and how they are aware, or in many cases, not aware of that which inside of them is the true essence of who they are. Once we’re able to get to this point, men have an opportunity recover not only for a month or two or three, but for a year, two, three, for a lifetime because once we get to that place of integrity, that place of authenticity, we’re able to live free, not only from drugs and alcohol, but free from all the things that distract us in life. We’re able to find that place of peace and that place of promise that tells us we are okay despite anything else.
About a year ago we opened up Arrowhead Lodge. Arrowhead is a 10,000 square foot mountain retreat, and we made that a place for older men to go. It’s one thing to have a place for men, but we found that having older men and younger men mixed in the same program we not the optimum for recovery. We older men have different things that we are stressed about — mortgages, career paths, wives, ex-wives, children, child support, and many, many different things whereas the younger male is struggling with picking his socks up off the floor in the morning, the older male is struggling with how do I succeed.
And not only that, but the stigma of alcoholism and drug addiction which has devastated them in their career has really brought them to a place of, “What’s going on? What’s this all about? There’s gotta more to life than this.” Well, that’s what Arrowhead Lodge is all about. It’s nestled in 6,300 feet elevation in the mountain pines in Northern Arizona. It’s a resort feeling, but yet it’s a place where a guy can come and literally fall apart if he needs to and then allow himself to be brought back together through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and with some evidence-based practices we’re able to help that man reconnect his life, rebuild his life in a way that he might not be able to otherwise.
It’s a place where a guy can come and be in solitude. He can watch the eagles fly or the hawks fly. He can listen to the wind blowing through the pines. He doesn’t have to check his email every five minutes. He doesn’t have to have all of the things that plug him into life. He can literally unplug, get away from life and experience himself, experience the solitude, and experience the quiet.
And that can be a pretty scary thing for a guy who’s wrapped up in everything that identifies him in this society, but we find that when we can take those things away from him and allow him to be still, maybe go out in the forest and sit on a rock for an hour or two that something really happens that doesn’t happen anywhere else. I call it bucket-brain. You know when it rains and the rain fills a river that river becomes muddy and if you take a bucket and go into that river and pull out that water, that water is gonna be dirty, and you’re not gonna be able to see through it.
If you let that water sit for a day, two days or a week, all of that comes to the bottom and now it’s clear and now you can see in. At Arrowhead Lodge we allow the guy with bucket-brain to come in and be still and get clear so he can see down inside what’s really going on, and at that point we can use evidenced based therapies to go in and help him deal with trauma, loss, grief, whatever it is that’s been bottled up, that’s been kept secret and kept far apart from his psyche, but yet has been screaming and screaming and screaming for years to set me free.
We’re able to do that in an environment that offers privacy, seclusion and best of all, it’s a safe place. A guy feels safe at Arrowhead Lodge. We only have eight residents at a time. It’s not like you’re gonna get lost in the shuffle. You’re going to see yourself and you’re going to be there, and you’re gonna be with guys like you, and you’re gonna have a therapist with you that’s gonna be with you the entire time.
We’d like you to stay as long as you can whether that’s 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months or more. The longer you stay, the better your opportunity for long-term recovery. So Arrowhead Lodge for the older guy, Montana Lodge for the younger guy. At Montana Lodge, what’s going to take place is more about learning how to live as a man, learning how to take care of yourself, having independent life skills, being able to make your bed, wash your laundry, shop for groceries, cook your food, plan meals. We do all of these things for the younger male to help him be in a place where he can now move out and become independent whether he wants to go back to school, pursue a career, join the Navy, whatever he wants to do, we provide that foundation of recovery with life skills so that he can do that.
All in all, we focus on those core issues. Yes, we’re a 12-step-based recovery program and yes, we use evidence-based practices with a great clinical team of psychiatrist and psychologists, Ph.D.-level counselors, master’s-level counselors, all of the above, yet at the core of what we do, it’s about male spirituality. What is it that keeps men from realizing their true authentic self? What is in that male psyche that says, “I’m the CEO. I’m a doctor. I’m a lawyer. I’m a plumber. I’m a carpenter. I’m a this. I’m a that. I’m a so-and-so and so-and-so.”
Well, we are human beings not human doings, and so often we get caught in the human doing. Come to Arrowhead Lodge and Montana Lodge and we’ll show you how to be a human being authentic. Thank you.
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