April P. from Vancouver, BC, Canada attended her first ACORN Intensive (Primary Intensive) earlier this month in Vancouver. She tells us about her experience here. Thank you, April, for sharing your story!

After 3.5 years in a 12-Step fellowship for compulsive eating, I have not experienced a change sufficient enough to achieve and maintain abstinence. In that time, my disease has continued to progress. I have lost all joy in food, and I have lost all control. In my desperation, I surrendered to seeking more structure and support: I signed up for my first ACORN Primary Intensive.

The program ran from March 8-13, 2019, and although six days is a relatively short amount of time to be in treatment, I had no idea that the time spent here would have such a positive impact on my life.

Going in, I had no idea what treatment would involve. It was soon revealed that enormous personal growth can happen during the six days, spread across activities such as morning walks, gentle breakfasts, process groups, food addiction education, and bonding with other food addicts. The process of going through these activities brought many gifts for me.

The first gift was six days of healthy, structured eating along with detox from sugar; this alone was worth the investment because it gave me the time and the space to get abstinent successfully.

The second gift was learning that I am, indeed a food addict – not just a compulsive overeater. This realization contextualizes all my countless, failed attempts at controlling my eating up to now – it simply wasn’t my fault! And, after years of beating myself down for ‘not getting it’, I let myself off the hook.

The third gift was being able to drop down into my heart and internalize that it is vitally necessary to ask for help from others. The intensive also gave me tools for connecting that set me up for success upon re-entering “the addictive world.”

The fourth gift I received was human connection. By virtue of our common addiction, the shared challenges, and the activities we were asked to complete, I and six strangers were able to reveal our authentic selves and bond in such a way I had not thought possible.

The final gift I received was re-connection with myself. With the help of the ACORN counsellors and session moderators (and indeed the help of my fellows in treatment), I was able to begin noticing, sharing, and expressing my feelings. I hadn’t realized how cut-off I was from myself, and in reconnecting, I feel more whole as a person.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that, “unless the person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.” (p. xxix) I am immensely grateful to ACORN for providing the structure, the support, and the connection needed to properly start my spiritual awakening.