Podcast Series: The Refuge

Gina:         Hi, everyone, welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series. I’m pleased today to be joined with Jennifer Drapeaux, with The Refuge out of Ocala, Florida. Welcome, Jennifer.

Jennifer: Thank you, thank you for having me.
Gina:         It’s really good to have you here. We’re gonna get into learning more about The Refuge in a second, but before we do, let’s talk a little bit about you and what got you into the field of working in addiction treatment.
Jennifer: Sure. So I have been in behavioral health for about 12 years. I started when I was in college, and I was working at an acute in patient psychiatric facility, which is where I cut my teeth and found a love for working with behavioral health.
Jennifer: Over the years, I’ve stuck with it in different capacities. I worked in a group home for children and then I went to work for the government as a suicide prevention specialist on reservations. Lots of different kinds of experiences have brought me to The Refuge.
Gina:         That’s great. It’s so good to have you here and to hear more about the refuge, which is a very well-respected trauma program out of Florida that addresses both addiction and co-occurring disorders. Can you describe how The Refuge addresses the trauma in addiction? Because I’ve been in the field for 10 years, and I’m always so impressed when people come back from The Refuge and they talk about the work that they do there.
Jennifer: Sure. So The Refuge, the approach that we take is we work under the belief that everything is rooted in trauma, and that any addiction or substance use, process addiction, that’s all a symptom of the trauma. Being that we’re a longer term program, they really have found a way to give clients the time and space and resources necessary to start unraveling that trauma story. It’s almost like an onion, it takes a long time to peel back the layers. And so, by looking at the trauma, we can start to address, “Why are we using? Or why are we struggling with certain process addictions?” And in going back to the idea that it’s trauma based, it’s our way of coping and it’s our way of survival.
Gina:         And you guys are located where in Ocala?
Jennifer: It’s at Ocklawaha, actually.
Gina:         Ocklawaha. That’s right.
Jennifer: Ocklawaha, Florida.
Gina:         Okay.
Jennifer: It’s a very small town, about an hour and a half north of Orlando. And 20 minutes away from Ocala, Florida. And we are in the middle of the forest, the Ocklawaha National Forest.
Gina:         How many acres do you all have?
Jennifer: 100 acres.
Gina:         100 acres.
Jennifer: Yes.
Gina:         I’ve been there, and it’s really impressive.
Jennifer: It’s an old YMCA camp.
Gina:         Oh I didn’t know that.
Jennifer: Yeah.
Gina:         Oh, no kidding?
Jennifer: That’s how it started.
Gina:         Oh really?
Jennifer: Yeah.
Gina:         Okay, well it’s a beautiful campus. You guys, and I was around, took the big bus that they take around, it looks like the big-
Jennifer: The marsh mama.
Gina:         That’s it. So I drove all over with that, too, which was great. And you treat both men and women, correct?
Jennifer: Yes, ma’am.
Gina:         Okay. That’s great.
Gina:         So we’re gonna get to know you a little bit more on a different level.
Jennifer: Okay.
Gina:         So let’s talk for a second about if you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it, metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions, what would it say? And why?
Jennifer: This is hard. Even being prepped for this, this one is really hard. I think one of my favorites quotes is, I see it a lot but, “Be kind because everyone is facing some sort of battle we know nothing about.” I think that that is so true, I know there’s been plenty of times in my life where I’ve been dealing with stuff and you don’t always present that to the outside world. And when I’m sitting and talking, I have no idea what’s going on for that person, so just treating people with respect and kindness and showing compassion, that’s [inaudible 00:03:25]. Very cliché, but-
Gina:         No.
Jennifer: [inaudible 00:03:28] retweet it.
Gina:         But not said enough, and certainly not done enough, so I like that very much.
Gina:        And then again, playing off the idea of the word “Harmony”, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?
Jennifer: I think to live a life in Harmony, it’s really about being at peace with yourself, where you’re at. Giving yourself a lot of grace. We’re our own worst critics. We bring a lot of our, I know I am. So when I feel most peaceful is when I’m forgiving myself. I know you make mistakes and you carry on and you’re doing the best you can.
Gina:        Well, and I will say this, that getting to know you and hearing what you have to say obviously speaks to the quality of The Refuge, and the kind of talent that they hire, so thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today.
Gina:          If folks wanted to access services at The Refuge, how could they get in touch with you?
Jennifer: There’s a couple ways. If they are more comfortable calling into admissions directly, they can go to our website, the number is posted. There’s also an internet chat, sometimes that is a little more, less intimidating to people. I encourage people to just give me a call there. If you have any questions, I’d love to talk to you about it, and I really believe in getting people the right help, so if we’re not a good fit for whatever reason or what not, I would love to help connect you with other resources.
Gina:         Wonderful. Thank you so much. And what’s the best, is there a website?
Jennifer: Yep. The website for The Refuge is www.therefuge-ahealingplace.com.
Gina:         Okay, and what about a telephone number? Is there a dedicated number that they can call?
Jennifer: They can get my number call, it is 605-290-5356.
Gina:         Wonderful. Well thanks so much, Jennifer, it’s good to have you here.
Jennifer: Thank you.