STORIES of HOPE and RECOVERY at RIVENDELL

...Since leaving Rivendell I have maintained my sobriety, and will have 5 years sober on August 7th, 2022...

One way to describe my life before Rivendell was lost. I had nothing and I had no one. I scraped to get by everyday. My only thoughts were about the next fix. No amount of drugs or alcohol could fill the void I had in my soul. I had alienated anyone who ever cared about me. If you stood in my way or had something I wanted I was coming for you. Through emotional or physical threats and intimidation I got what I needed. Then came Hugh McGee and Rivendell Recovery Center. I was living out of hotels in Baltimore and called my mother for one last helping hand to try to get sober. Mom had met Hughie years ago and said Rivendell was the only place she would take me. I was driven to Rivendell and dropped on their doorstep. When I walked through the door I felt a sense of relief, a sense of hope. It’s hard to explain but Rivendell just has this calming effect like the home you never knew. I stayed for 90 days. 

This was my 13th time in treatment. Hugh’s program showed me how to live and how to life and how to have fun. “Find your Saturday night” was what he told me. Other programs just never worked for me. Hughie and his staff took me in and helped me identify things in my life and in my past that had helped lead me down the path to alcohol and substance abuse. It helped me save my life. Since leaving Rivendell I have maintained my sobriety, and will have 5 years sober on August 7th, 2022. I’m living a life I couldn’t have dreamt of. I have my daughter back in my life. I got married. I bought a house. I have a job that I enjoy going to. I have hobbies and most importantly I have friendships. Real friendships with people who think like me, people I can talk to about life and its ups and downs. Doing something like that was insane to me before I got sober and Rivendell taught me how to do it. There is no way I could ever thank the staff and Rivendell and Hughie enough. 

...I’m so grateful to Hugh and the community of Rivendell for showing me a better way to live and always putting the fun in recovery...

9 years ago when I arrived at Rivendell I had lost all hope of having a good life. I really didn’t want to live anymore I was in so much pain mentally I didn’t know what to do with it except mask it with drink and drugs. I had lost my home, my kids and my career. After arriving at Rivendell and finding a place that felt like home around people that understood me and wanted nothing for me but to see me happy and free from the pain I had been carrying around I finally began to understand that I had finally found a place where I could be myself and fit in. 

Photo of woman happily clean and sober holding a baby.

Throughout my recovery I certainly have made my share of “mistakes” and I have not done recovery perfectly. What I have done is not pick up a drink or a drug and reach out to my network and recovery family when there is something in my life going on that I can’t handle. I’m so grateful to Hugh and the community of Rivendell for showing me a better way to live and always putting the fun in recovery. Today my children look up to me and have seen my ability to show up for them no matter what. I recently purchased a house and working my career of choice very happily. None of this would’ve been possible without what I learned at Rivendell.

...they treated me like family from minute one and have never stopped. They welcomed my family and loved my children and helped me love myself again....

You just have to show up!  

One of my first memories of Rivendell is before I was a client and I came to a Saturday night NA meeting.  I don’t remember how I got there or why, all I really remember from that night is hearing someone share the words “you just show up”.  This simple statement has been the motto of my recovery.  

I had no idea how to show up for anything at that time.  I’d been in and out of jail, I’d lost my job, my home, my children.  My family would no longer help me, I had no friends and no real desire to help myself.  I was broken and empty but I knew something had to change.  Recovery was the only option I had left and I was terrified.  Hearing those words that night made it seem a little less scary to me and so “I just showed up”.  A few days later, I found myself on Rivendell’s front porch dragging my bags and crying uncontrollably.  I was greeted with so much love and support.  In recovery they say “we will love you until you love yourself” and that is exactly what happened.  

Hughie and the staff at Rivendell were amazing, they treated me like family from minute one and have never stopped.   They welcomed my family and loved my children and helped me love myself again.  Hughie is full of hard truths that we need but don’t like to hear. 

He is also full of love and wisdom and hugs that wrap you up and let you know you’re in the exact right place.  I have no doubts that my Higher Power had this planned for me long before I ever got here.

I came to Rivendell in August of 2018 and because I listened to and took the suggestions of my network I am here today.  I get to be an active participant in my own life. I get to show up.  Hughie and all the Rivendell crew lit the path, all I had to do was follow. 

 Now I can do the same for the next person, today I am the General Manager of Rivendell. 

In recovery I’ve made friendships and unbreakable bonds with people I may never have crossed paths with otherwise.  I’ve had the best of times and also some of the worst but I’ve had people to lean on, people who understand, people who never let me fall.  I no longer find myself hiding from my life, I’m out here doing just what they told me to do…I’m just showing up!!  

Photo of woman happily clean and sober holding a baby.

“Rivendell is not your usual recovery center. It is a home that is staffed with kind, caring staff members who make you feel like part of the family. Hugh and Tara are wonderful, as are all of the staff members. They truly care about every person who walks through the door. You are a name, not a number, and they will go above and beyond to help you through your struggles. They don’t just teach you a better life – they demonstrate it. The “Find Your Saturday Night” tenant truly shows the addict how to have a great life without drugs and alcohol. I cannot recommend Rivendell enough, it is a life-changing center.” Amy M.

“For the past year, Rivendell and their staff have kept our daughter alive.

One year ago, we discovered our youngest child had become addicted to fentanyl, in the aftermath of a  horrible physical assault. I called early in the morning, and that evening their “away-team” was at our house talking to us and our child about the situation. Their first conversation was not with our daughter, but with us. “If she says, No, are you willing to pick her up, take her to the front door, and lock her out?” My reply was that of every parent, “What if I say no?” They responded, “Then we leave, because this will not work unless you are all in.” Throwing our hearts in front of us, we agreed. She was in heavy addiction, sweating through her clothes, and did not want to go. Somehow, thankfully, as former addicts talking to an addict, they convinced her. Over the course of the next year, she relapsed twice, and is now in-house for the next year.

What is most important here is that the Rivendell team are a part of OUR family. They love our daughter, weep for and with our daughter, and fight for our daughter. They also love us, and we love them. They have given us hard advice but they have never been wrong and have never left us hanging. Over and over and over, the staff have gone twenty extra miles for our daughter. They have spent hours on the phone with us talking us through how to best navigate the horrific situation facing all of us. They have shuttled her to the hospital, doctors visits, therapist appointments, meetings, court appointments, and wherever else she needed to be. They have communicated and have held confidence.

Hughie, Tara, Heather and the rest of their staff are all, without a doubt, warriors for our daughter and our family. As a pastor, I have often said, “No one can do your walking for you, but God does not intend you to walk alone.” There are no words to express the level of thankfulness for the staff of Rivendell as walking partners.

If you are wondering if this is the right place to call, and if these people will do what they say, the answer is – 1000 times yes! No one can do your walking for you, and Rivendell will not let you walk alone.” Micheal L.

James P: “One way to describe my life before Rivendell was lost. I had nothing and I had no one. I scraped to get by everyday. My only thoughts were about the next fix. No amount of drugs or alcohol could fill the void I had in my soul. I had alienated anyone who ever cared about me.” Read James’s Whole Story on our Blog

“Hugh and Joanna literally going the extra miles across states to intervene for a dear family member. I truly believe without their effective intervention, we wouldn’t have been able to get the help our family needed to save our loved one’s life!! And I hear that this magical bucolic place has resident animals too!!! Horses dogs cats, need I say more how therapeutic they can be!!! Wonderful!! Near Charlottesville, Virginia.” Leslie C. 

“Rivendell is unique. They foster relationships and accountability. They went above and beyond to help my loved one, and both he and I are grateful for their efforts. My loved one now realizes how very much he grew while there, and although he didn’t completely embrace recovery when in their program, so many seeds were planted, and he’s making continued progress! I will forever be grateful for their care and concern for him.” Robin J. 

John H: “My struggles with alcohol and drug addiction began back when I was a younger teenager, age, 12. Started when I tried my first sip of alcohol from my parents liquor cabinet out of curiosity and then eventually led to alcoholism, pain pill abuse, and other various harder drugs. But to specifically speak about how I got to Rivendell and where my life changed for the best because of it. Prior to getting to Rivendell, I had been on a two month long alcohol and pain pill fueled relapse of absolutely absurd proportions.” Read John’s Whole Story on our Blog

“I cannot say enough good things about Rivendell Recovery Center… this place truly is everything a recovery center should be. As a family member of several addicts, this place not only offered support for my family members but also a place for me to feel heard & understand more about the members in my family struggling with addiction. I have attended meeting’s many times by myself & each time was more than welcomed by the amazing staff & director Hughie.  I wish there were more options , such as Rivendell for people struggling with any kind of recovery or addiction, as well as a place for their family members. 1,000 stars.. I love Rivendell!” Riley S. 

“Rivendell isn’t your typical recovery center.

When we were at a point in our lives when there was very little hope left, we were introduced to Rivendell.  Greeted by a larger than life presence, cell phone attached to a landyard thrown over his shoulder, a warm smile and a welcoming attitude, we stepped inside the house, the community, the life… that Hughie built.

Everything about Rivendell felt BIG.  The structure all in itself is extensive…add to it a “Gone with the Wind” style staircase, massive see through fireplace, a beautiful patio with a large pool and pool house, a greenhouse, and a tree house, both used as living spaces, more bedrooms than I could count…and most importantly, finally, the feeling of “this is it, this is where she needs to be!”

And it was.  Rivendell is family, it’s a kitchen island surrounded by small talk and advice and laughter and “whose night is it to cook” and “when’s dinner ready!” It’s the most over the top Christmas tree that you will probably ever experience, and, yes, it’s an experience… It’s Halloween parties and bonfires and camping trips with white water rafting and summer vacations on the beach.  It’s living.

Rivendell was a turning point in our lives of addiction.  My sister, and then later, my son, both benefited by the acceptance and safety and commitment of the program that IS Rivendell.

While the program was my sister’s to complete…I feel like I, and her children, benefited from the program also.  We were invited to participate in celebrations and activities and gatherings… We were invited to dinners and cookouts and summer days in the pool.  

Addiction is a master at dividing families.  The destruction is devastating.  Being invited to participate in activities allowed us the opportunity to reconnect in a healthy and positive environment.  It also introduced us to the reality that “we aren’t alone.”  Being a loved one of a “client” we inherited a much larger family.    These connections are rewarding on many levels!!

I will forever be grateful for Hughie and for the life he built for himself….a life dedicated to so many others!!!  If you have any hesitations, put them aside and do as Hughie says, “Just get there!!”

We have ZERO regrets and an ABUNDANCE of Gratitude!!!” Holly C. 

Tara C: “One of my first memories of Rivendell is before I was a client and I came to a Saturday night NA meeting.  I don’t remember how I got there or why, all I really remember from that night is hearing someone share the words “you just show up”.  This simple statement has been the motto of my recovery.” Read Tara’s Whole Story on our Blog

“Rivendell planted the seed for new perspective in life beyond my imagination. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to have found this very special place. Tools to cope in recovery on daily basis are priceless and use everything I learned today to become great member of society.” Enrico F. 

“I can not say enough about Rivendell. Everyone there is so devoted to each and every person that walks through the door for help! They saved my Son’s life and I will be forever Grateful.” Tara W. 

Tisa S: “9 years ago when I arrived at Rivendell I had lost all hope of having a good life. I really didn’t want to live anymore I was in so much pain mentally I didn’t know what to do with it except mask it with drink and drugs. I had lost my home, my kids and my career.” Read Tisa’s Whole Story on our Blog

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