GOLD HILL, Ore. – It’s another day in the field for David Durham. Today, he and about six other men are working on one of the campus’ two community gardens.
For eight weeks, Durham has been living at Gold Hill’s U-Turn for Christ program, working and willing himself past seven years of addiction.
“I was stealing from people closes to me, my family,” said Durham. “Just darkness all around.”
Durham’s addiction started with pain killers prescribed after an accident. After a few years he turned to heroin. He attended court-ordered recovery programs, but those only ended in relapse.
This time, he says, it’s different.
“When I talk to people they can see me again,” said Durham. “Not the façade or what I’m trying to make them to think about me or what I want them to see.”
Durham is one of a handful of men staying at U-Turn for Christ, and one of 200 or so to attend the program in its five years in the area.
The program abandons medication and clinical treatment entirely in favor of faith, military-like discipline, and daily hard work.
“It begins at 5:30 in the morning. By 6:00am they’re reading the bible as a group,” said Program Director and Pastor Kevin Darr. “We’ll go out to some kind of work detail or community service afterwards.”
The U-Turn program claims an 87% success rate. But Dr. Darryl Inaba, an expert at Medford’s Addictions Recovery Center, says traditional, faith-based programs like these are generally half that – closer to 40-50% success rate.
The people who recover, he says, are the kinds who are already inclined to believe in its methods.
“A large percentage of addicts won’t accept that approach, won’t even go to that approach,” said Inaba.
Even for those who do accept and fully commit themselves to a recovery model, an eight-week recovery is all but unheard of.
“If somebody does it right, they’re surprised that they’ve been there for about two years,” said Inaba.
But Inaba says for some people, programs like these can work best. That includes people Durham, along with the other 200 or so U-Turn for Christ has helped.
Durham says no matter what the solution is, it’s better than going alone.
“Bottom line is you can’t do it on your own… period,” said Durham.
The U-Turn for Christ program can be found in many cities and countries around the world. The Gold Hill program only sees men for now. They say they hope to create a separate program for women in the near future.