Acorn Primary Intensives Successful – Spread the Word

We just completed the January Primary Intensive, and everyone became rigorously abstinent, dealt with deep emotional issues, and moved towards accepting their powerlessness.  We sometimes forget how special this program is for those who are new to food addiction, those having trouble getting abstinent, and those in chronic relapse.

“Forever grateful, life changing! If you’re not getting your
powerlessness in Step 1, this is the place to get it.”

SHiFT has been offering the Primary Intensive for over 24 years, with an average of eight Intensives per year.  To date, over 2,500 food addicts have participated in this program.

Middle- and late-stage food addicts often need the same type of support as alcoholics who cannot get sober by themselves or with the help of therapy or a Twelve Step program.  The Acorn Primary Intensive shows that residential detox can be a key to success for struggling food addicts, and SHiFT’s program offers more. In addition to offering support for identifying and eliminating binge foods, there is:

  • help in finding an abstinence food plan;
  • instruction in inventorying food slips physically, emotional, mentally and spiritually;
  • education about food addiction as a brain disease;
  •  experience dealing with the most difficult feelings;
  • a rigorous process for challenging food addiction denial; and
  • aid in creating a plan for long-term abstinence and recovery after the workshop.

In 2006, a survey of outcomes of the Acorn Primary Intensives was done.  A research sample of over 250 alumni found that over two-thirds of those surveyed were, at the time of the survey, abstinent and maintaining a substantial weight loss.  Of those, 50 percent indicated they had not relapsed since attending the event.  Those who indicated they had breaks in abstinence were able to get back on track, often with the support of another SHiFT event.  One-third of those surveyed reported being in relapse.

As part of their food abstinence, respondents reported they had entirely eliminated several different foods:

  • Added sugar (86%)
  • Excess volume (74%)
  • Alcohol (74%)
  • Flour (71%)
  • Chocolate (70%)
  • Other food substances: wheat, artificial sweeteners, excess fat, gum, meat, nuts, salt (44%)

Participants were asked to evaluate the Primary Intensive as a whole.  Most reported that as a result of attending, they were glad to learn more about their addiction to food.  Only 13 percent replied that it was “somewhat” helpful; and 71 percent said that “it changed everything” for them.

Food addicts hear about SHiFT and the Primary Intensive mostly by word of mouth from those who have attended. It may be that you know someone who might benefit from an Intensive.

“ACORN keeps helping my oak-tree of recovery grow stronger.”

As a reminder, if you know someone through a Twelve Step fellowship, be sure to honor the Twelve Traditions by not mentioning SHiFT, Phil, Mary or Amanda by name, in any Twelve Step meeting.

Even though I can hardly believe it, I will turn 77 in a few months.  The commitment of many of you to carry forward this model of professional support for food addicts is truly inspiring.  My sincere hope is that with our continued commitment to abstinence and deepening recovery, many more will find freedom and happiness.

It is my privilege to work with food addicts through the professional support offered in SHiFT.  I have seen the pain, watched the struggle of accepting powerlessness, and witnessed the remarkable recovery of many.

If you would like to read more from the Survey of SHiFT Outcomes, please refer to Food Addiction Recovery, A New Model of Professional Support: the ACORN Primary Intensive available by emailing

In love and abstinence,