September 20, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Awakening Recovery Helping LGBTQ+ People With Addiction

Awakening Recovery is a non-profit recovery community created to provide a safe and effective environment for men to build the foundation of a fulfilling and productive life.

Awakening Recovery specializes in unique life-saving recovery homes with a long-term, 12-Step addiction solution that creates a lasting change in core beliefs and behaviors and believes in a 100% abstinence approach.

David van der Velde, the Executive Director of Awakening Recovery, founded the non-profit in 2016. Velde was previously a corporate professional and has now been sober for over 33 years. He has made it his mission to help fight addiction with a long-term recovery approach that works and is very involved in the LGBTQ+ community.

In his capacity as founding Executive Director of Awakening Recovery van der Velde led the effort to secure a multi-year contract with the City of West Hollywood Social Services to provide scholarship funding to WeHo constituents looking for a long-term recovery solution for drug addiction and alcoholism at Awakening Recovery.

Van der Velde started as a volunteer at AIDS Project Los Angeles in 1990 and as a result became a Development Associate at APLA in 1991 supporting primarily LGBTQ fundraising events.  He began volunteering at APLA as a way to be of service to his LGBTQ 12-Step community that was devastated with loss as a result of the AIDS pandemic.

Van der Velde was a founding Board member of LifeWorks, a non-profit started to support one-on-one peer mentoring of LGBTQ youth 18-24 and remained on the Board until it eventually became an in-house program of the LA LGBT Center.  

He has been on the Board of Directors of the West Hollywood Recovery Center since 2013, a non-profit providing space at the WHRC and Log Cabin for 12-Step meetings in West Hollywood.

David van der Velde

When asked if Pride month affects the number of people seeking recovery van der Velde stated, “Yes.  Many LGBTQ people have experienced trauma both having to do with their sexuality and gender identity, and addiction.  Even though Pride Month is a time for celebration of the LGBTQ community, for some –  guilt, shame, and abuse are pervasive. This increases the desire to escape for those struggling with addiction, and sadly drugs and alcohol can be a perceived source of relief.  Additional compassion and support for those you love struggling with addiction is needed during Pride Month.  Sometimes the best support is helping your loved one find access to treatment or mutual self help groups.

“Although there is a long way to go, there is growing support for the LGBTQ community in the area of addiction, and better resources, education, and training for those treating and helping the LGBTQ community to find lasting recovery from addiction. Taking a questioning stance, seeking to understand rather than be understood, is the best approach to helping the LGBTQ community start to heal from the ravaging disease of drug addiction and alcoholism.  Length of stay and quality of care are crucial to helping those seeking sustainable recovery to find it – at Awakening Recovery the goal for residents is to have them stay with us for 12+ months and at any given time typically we are serving at least 2-4 LGBTQ identified residents in the house.”

Awakening Recovery has been in operation since July 2016 with their first men’s recovery house – they have 27 graduates with a 80-90% success rate and have helped over 100 men to date. They will also be opening a new women’s house in West Los Angeles later this year to help fulfill the lack of nonprofit women’s long-term recovery solutions for substance abuse in the LA metro area.

Visit https://awakeningrecovery.org/ for more information.

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