Recovery and the season of imbibing

Sobering is one word to describe a visit to The Recovery Church here on Harriet Island in St. Paul.

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Jo Campe, 67, who founded The Recovery Church is retiring at the end of 2011.

The Recovery Church is one of only a dozen churches in the country with the singular mission of helping people recover from their addiction to booze and other drugs.

Campe has led the congregation though moments of deep sadness and loss. But the church is also the scene of joy as people develop friendships, embrace, shake hands and applaud declarations of sobriety during the Sunday service.

Campe begins every service with an attempt at humor that might be construed as inappropriate in some circles, but congregants at the Recovery Church are a forgiving lot and have learned over the years Campe’s humor is edgy and not always G-rated.

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Campe addresses his church. Photo Maren Olson

Jo Campe is clearly relishing the thought of retirement and having more time for hunting, fishing and camping in northeastern Minnesota where he and his wife have their other home.

However, he isn’t climbing completely out of the recovery saddle. His retirement comes during a particularly difficult time for treatment programs. Money for programs is dwindling. Some treatment programs have closed their doors. Others are straining to put clients through shorter treatment programs. Campe will continue his work as a consultant.

Excessive alcohol consumption persists as a problem. The Centers for Disease Control estimates in addition to thousands of lives lost the socialized economic cost in dollars related to excessive alcohol consumption is more than $220 billion a year.

So, for those of us who believe we are not addicted, let’s toast the New Year, imbibe and drive responsibly. And then let’s think about what can be done individually and collectively to counter the ruinous and deadly effects of addiction.

Here, by the way, is a very fine report done by former MPR colleague David Molpus on The Recovery Church.

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