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Peer-to-peer support around fitness sees substantial growth

August 20, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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By next winter, communities across the country will be able to go to school on how to build the kind of recovery-supportive environment around fitness that has made Phoenix Multisport a recovery initiative of note.

Founder and executive director Scott Strode tells Addiction Professional that rather than growing the organization solely from within, Phoenix Multisport plans to start offering trainings on the key components needed for others to create a safe and sober community centered around physical actvity but designed to achieve a much broader fellowship.

Strode, whose organization was the subject of a 2013 Addiction Professional cover story, also is overseeing internal growth in Phoenix Multisport that now has the initiative operating in three states: Colorado, California and Massachusetts (the latter of which is the location where Strode got sober). An Orange County, Calif., site opened at the beginning of this year, and programs in Boston have just launched.

At the sites where Phoenix Multisport has established its own foothold, “We build our programs within communities, and then they will grow regionally,” says Strode.

Consistent concept

What brings Phoenix Multisport to life has remained consistent through its history. Motivated by seeing many of his friends in early recovery having mastered sobriety but little else in their lives, Strode created an environment in which meaningful friendships could be forged through achieving common fitness goals. Most of the organization's events have been made possible through individual and corporate support, and therefore are available free to participants.

The only requirements for membership are 48 hours of sobriety and a promise to abide by rules of conduct that are designed to maintain a safe and sober environment for all individuals (leaders take pains not to convert their concept into a dating club, for example).

Between growth in the three states where Phoenix Multisport has established operations and the possibility that other organizations will replicate the Phoenix model, Strode expects that around 3,000 to 3,500 new members could join nationally within the next year, adding to a current base of around 2,000.

The Boston startup holds special meaning for Strode based on his recovery journey, but also is resonating within that community. “The opioid crisis there is of epidemic proportions,” he says. “I think it's just amplified because of the number of overdoses. People are in need of something that brings hope.”

He expects that addiction treatment centers, community-based organizations and individuals all could be candidates for creating similar efforts around the country. Larger treatment facilities with a sober-living component and/or an active alumni network serve as ideal candidates for helping to execute this concept, a peer-to-peer experiential model that builds group fellowship and individual self-esteem.

“It's exciting to see treatment professionals seeing the power of having ongoing recovery support,” says Strode. He uses this analogy: “Your doctor can tell you you're diabetic, but it's what you do outside of the doctor's office that really matters.”

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