Finding Serenity in Southeast Volusia County: Feature Article for the NSB Observer September 2014

posted Dec 1, 2015, 3:01 PM by Constance Payne   [ updated Sep 29, 2018, 1:04 PM ]

Finding Serenity in Southeast Volusia County: Feature Article for the NSB Observer September 2014

    Being a productive member of society and creating a healthy daily routine to reach your goals is challenging for a percentage of our population that are genetically predisposed to have addictive personality traits. Understanding the power of your own mind and how to utilize it consciously, intentionally, purposefully, and without regret are virtues that we all strive for- whether we are addicts or not.

    Since the mid-20th century critics have attacked the addiction model, and addicts were seen as the degenerates of society that weren’t "normal people".  A common question from those who do not have addictive personalities is, “How did they lose self control?” To answer that you must first understand what addiction really is.  A common mindset of addiction is that the people who suffer from it understand that they have a choice, but lack willpower. Battling this widespread misconception can only happen one way- education.

    Having an addictive personality is something that 10% of our population is born with. While 40%-50% of college students show signs of alcoholism and substance abuse issues, that percentage of students aren’t actually addicts, they are just going through a faze that mimics the behavior of addiction.  You or someone you know may be exhibiting destructive behaviors for a matter of time, but will eventually stop when the faze has run its course. The 10% of the population who are born addicts cannot stop. Their bodies need their vice or vices of choice; it only takes one drink, one dose, one hit, one time. 

    That one time changes the chemical symphony in their brain, not just for the remainder of the high that they get from using, but that change makes them crave the high and leads to a chemical dependency. It takes quite some time to get the brain to adjust itself back to producing the right amount of natural chemicals needed for normal functionality, and during that time of adjustment daily behaviors and lifestyle changes must be made. You either are an addict, or you are not. You cannot make someone an addict, and it’s definitely not contagious.

    No matter who you are on the social ladder, addiction has affected your life in some kind of way. Whether you are one, were or are married to one, have a parent that is one, cousin, aunt, uncle, friend, child, etc.- everyone in some way has a connection to an addict of some sort. Having an emotionally supportive family and/or friends is key to a successful recovery. If you don’t believe that they can get better, why should they? After all, addicts affect everyone around them; without the love and support from your family and peers, you loose all hope and nothing matters- especially sobriety.

    Serenity Springs Recovery is one of the top treatment centers in the country and is located right here in Edgewater. This facility is known as the “Ivey League of the 12 Step Program” and has been nationally recognized in Psychology Today Magazine, a news and research outlet that covers all aspects of human behavior. Co-founded by Jim Marshall Sr., a former undercover narcotics detective who realized that criminalizing addicts was preventing them from seeking treatment. After years of treating drug addiction as a crime and continuously asking the same question, “Why are you doing this?” and hearing the same answer time and time again, “I don’t want to be like this, I just can’t stop.” he knew that it was time to take a more proactive approach. 

    His personal commitment to a client’s recovery does not end when they leave the Serenity facility, because he genuinely cares about his clients and their families. He enjoys the follow up phone calls of those who have succeeded with their revolutionary program and likes the challenge of taking on people who chronically relapse- watching their success through the recovery process at Serenity. “We are here to save lives and we know everyone’s name,” he says. “We took on a client a while back who had relapsed 18 times, his parents said, "Good luck with that one." but after completing the Serenity Springs program he’s been sober ever since.

    Jim works with his son Jimmy Marshall Jr., who has struggled with his own issues of alcohol dependency. He is a personal trainer who’s studying to be a certified substance abuse counselor. Jimmy understands firsthand the power of addiction and how people who are addicts aren’t bad people even though they may have committed violent crimes and made poor choices while under the influence. He knows that drug and alcohol addiction changes one’s personality drastically, and once that person is operating on a normal level they are a completely different than when they were using. 

    This father/son duo leads an extremely qualified and caring staff of psychologists, addiction counselors, case managers, and recovery advocates. What makes their program so unique? Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, it allows their clients to bring to mind the emotionally unpleasant images and beliefs about themselves that make battling addiction an even greater struggle. Their program allows clients to not only become emotionally free, but to understand themselves spiritually. With daily meditation, emotional reviews, exercise, and making sure that each client follows through with all 12 steps of the program, they have an 80% success rate in recovery. 

    Those of you who have either been in recovery or dealt with someone in recovery may scoff at this number because of your frustration with traditional care. They measure their success by using an aftercare program called MAP Accountability Services, which provides one on one emotional support, guidance, and random toxicology screenings for the client for 15 months after completion of the 30, 60, or 90-day program at Serenity Springs Recovery. MAP also works in depth with the family to help them identity enabling, codependency issues, and provide updates about your loved ones progress. Since the founding of this program in 2012 this facility has only had 3 clients return for treatment, and was the first treatment center to score a 100 with the licensure standards for the State of Florida Department of Children and Families. 

    As a team, they understand that a 30, 60, or 90-day program may not be possible for everyone and have created an Intensive Outpatient Program or IOP, which is located at 310 Julia St. in New Smyrna Beach. They offer day and night programs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays with individualized therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Krissy Chalk is a crucial member of the outpatient care who developed the ‘Transition After Serenity Program’ that provides life skills and job opportunities for the recovered.

    While some cities have put up road blocks in the path of recovery institutions, the city of Edgewater has agreed that effective treatment centers like Serenity Springs Recovery are a help to the community because they are creating responsible members of society who are able to hold down jobs, pay their taxes, etc. The founders and staff members would like to publicly thank the Mayor, City Councilmen and Councilwomen, as well as the City Manager Tracey Barlow.

    Serenity Springs is proud to announce that they are sponsoring the movie “The Anonymous People” at Cinematique Theatre of Daytona, 242 South Beach St. Tickets are FREE for either showing 2pm or 5pm, Sunday September 21st. Just email to RSVP to the event and bring as many people as you want- I will be there at the 2pm showing.

    The website for the film reads, “We are moms and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters - all bringing the power and proof of recovery to our communities. Together we will change public perception, and ultimately the public response to the addiction crisis...FOREVER. Will you join us?” 

    The Serenity Springs Recovery center is located at 1555 Cow Creek Road in Edgewater, FL 32132 and you can contact them directly on their 24-hour hotline, 365 days a year, at 386-423-4540 or request more information via email at