What Real-Life Recovery Means to Me

Real-life recovery means happy people on a hill hugging

(first published in The Sanford – internal newsletter)

Years ago, when Sanford Behavioral Health was a 10-bed women’s facility, we had an alumni event. These days, we have robust alumni programs for eating disorders and addiction, but in 2017, it was the first time our clients had the opportunity to return to the place where their recovery began.


I remember two things about that event. First was how the women looked; they had taken great care of their appearance and, to a person, seemed reborn. Second, the story one of the alums told. In the depths of active addiction, she was a grandmother who had been banned from being alone with her grandchildren. Touchingly, she had just returned from a camping trip with those grandkids, and tears streamed down her face as she told the story.


What is Real-Life Recovery?

That is the essence of what real-life recovery means to me—looking at each client as a person with challenges, motivation, values, and complex relationships and empowering them for a full-throttle life outside the walls of treatment. It is so important to what we are about at Sanford that we put it on our website’s first page.


“Our evidence-based treatment programs are just the beginning of a life in recovery. We want to inspire you to find your inner grit, enhance relationships, rekindle your interests, and engage your passion. Recovery is a lifelong journey, and our goal is to prepare you for the long haul.”


Real-Life Recovery Campaign

The concept of real-life recovery has been in Sanford’s vocabulary for years. It started when we opened the Outpatient Center as a way to describe flexible programs for those with daily responsibilities and routines that prevent a residential stay. But over the years, the term has come to mean much more. Real-life recovery is the result of what we do each day. It means unencumbered laughing with friends, playing a video game, walking the dog, going to work, holding a baby, running for the joy of it, and eating pizza on a Friday night.



Individualized Programs

At Sanford, we look at the whole person with an integrative approach to addiction and co-occurring disorders, eating disorders, mental health, and medical conditions. Our individualized programs work with/for real-life situations.


Full Continuum of Care and Flexibility

Our full continuum of care for eating disorders, addiction, and co-occurring conditions allows us flexibility and optimal long-term supervision. Sanford’s family and alumni programs are essential to providing education, support, and recovery-friendly home environments.


The Sanford Team

Our welcoming, talented, multi-disciplinary team is the core of our real-life recovery programs. Here are quotes from some of our Limelight Interviews of team members – they say it best:

Shelby Kendrick – I strongly believe that staffing our teams is the heart of this great organization. With our mission and culture, we attract a diverse and fantastic staff, people who are passionate and energetic about mental health and wellness.

Garrett Dunn – What I have come to love about Sanford is the intimacy and passion in everyone who works here. Within the first week of starting my job, I knew it was a welcoming place, and the staff cared about what they were doing.

Shellie Cole-Mickens – I love the staff. I love the variety and the fact that many of the team are in recovery. Not only do they have the life experience, but they also have the educational background and professional experience. But more than that, the staff are constantly prepared and trained to meet our clients’ challenges.

Tori TerAvest – We work on a great interdisciplinary team. We all want to communicate; I can walk into our Nurse Practitioner’s office anytime and say I noticed that one of our clients seemed off or sleepy. I can tell one of the clinical therapists that a client refused food. We do not have to wait because the entire team is accessible.


In Conclusion

In the coming weeks, you will see our Real-Life Recovery campaign in Excursions articles, Sanford monitors, and our social media platforms. I hope it makes you proud to be a part of the Sanford team. What we do here saves lives, families, and futures, and we could not do it without you.

Rae Green



Rae Allyson Green, JD, MA, LPC, CAADC, is the Founder & President of Sanford Behavioral Health. After extensive experience working in residential treatment centers, Rae sought a new treatment approach for addiction and co-occurring disorders. Together with husband, David Green, she established Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers in 2015. Their mission was to elevate the effectiveness and availability of treatment for individuals diagnosed with substance use disorders (SUDs). Today, Sanford is an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving the state of Michigan and beyond.