Local film highlights Durango area rafting recovery program – The Journal

‘The Flow We Find’ follows a float trip down the Colorado River for people affected by addiction

Cruz Baca, left, Candice Seay, center, Dante Downey, Chuck Dickenson and Kiva the dog on All Forward Adventures and Young People in Recovery’s Colorado River rafting trip for those who have suffered from drug addiction. (Courtesy of Shane Nelson)

A local documentary premiering at the Durango Independent Film Festival tells the stories of some of those affected by drug addiction in the Durango area, following them as they go on an adventure rafting trip for those in recovery .

“The Flow We Find” documents a five-day float trip along the Colorado River led by the Rafting 4 Recovery program of All Forward Adventures and the Durango chapter of Young People in Recovery for those affected by substance use .

The film features the stories of three community members from the Durango area as they recount their experiences and those of their loved ones with addiction. It aims to locate addiction and reveal opportunities for redemption while highlighting the recovery solutions that already exist in Durango and destigmatizing recovery.

“Very few people become addicts for no reason. It just doesn’t work that way,” said Shane Nelson, owner and founder of All Forward Adventures and director of the film. “There are contributing factors, and when you are able to recognize them, you can work on your responsibility to heal and address them.”

“The Flow We Find” captures the personal stories of Sara Molitor, Lauri Schell and Cruz Baca, three community members from the Durango region whose lives have been impacted by addiction.

Molitor struggled with drug addiction before becoming active in the Durango recovery community, and Schell lost his son Jake, a former Durango high school student, to an accidental overdose.

Parts of Baca’s story will be familiar to those in Durango. He was arrested and sentenced to two years of community correction and 10 years of probation after a hit and run on College Drive that seriously injured two people.

But after spending time in jail in La Plata County and Albuquerque and entering recovery, Baca began working with Young People in Recovery, a Denver-based recovery advocacy group, and mentoring those struggling. against drug addiction.

Baca became a certified recovery coach and now works as the general manager of a hotel while helping lead the local chapter of Young People in Recovery.

All three participated in the rafting trip, which was a partnership between All Forward Adventures and Young People in Recovery. In September, the two organizations brought together 17 people affected by drug addiction for the experiment.

“The whole trip is about recovery and bringing a community together,” said Candice Seay, Young People in Recovery National Chapter Coordinator and Durango Chapter Leader. “…Every activity we did was organized to help foster relationships; a popular expression is the opposite of addiction is connection. We wanted to make sure that we provided a space where people felt at home.

During the trip, Nelson, Seay and others led hikes and other identity-focused activities and group discussions. The goal was to disconnect participants from their addictions.

“When you take people away from their surroundings and the things that keep reinforcing their identity – who they are and what they’re not – you bring them into this wild place,” Nelson said. “It gives you the opportunity to reflect on who you are and how you came to be that way.”

For Baca, the rafting trip was profound.

“Each of us chose something and we released those pieces of ourselves and left them there in Moab,” he said. “Words don’t do it justice, the emotions and freedom I experienced on this trip.”

“The Flow We Find” follows the Colorado River rafting trip of All Forward Adventures and Young People in Recovery. The documentary discusses addiction recovery and highlights the stories of some community members in the Durango area who have been impacted by addiction. (Courtesy of Shane Nelson)

In addition to following the journey and stories of some of its participants, the film points to Young People in Recovery and Rafting 4 Recovery as ongoing solutions to addiction in Durango.

Young People in Recovery serves as a hub for people in recovery in the region, providing a community of supporters, recovery meetings and social events.

Seay, Baca, and the Durango Chapter host barbecues, arts nights, and other sober activities. They even have a kickball team in the town recreation league called “Kicking the Habit”.

The Young People in Recovery model is designed to meet the diverse needs of people experiencing abuse.

“We really embrace the many paths to recovery,” Seay said. “There are some traditional recovery modalities that are really well known (like Alcoholics Anonymous) that have been very effective for a lot of people, but they don’t appeal to everyone. There must be several doors that people can pass through if a particular program doesn’t fit their niche.

Part of the organization’s mission is to show young people that the cycle of addiction can be broken through meaningful connection with others, Baca said.

“If we can provide these services like Young People in Recovery to these young children before they go down the path that I have taken, which represents over 20 years of addiction and struggle, it will literally change the world. “, did he declare.

Like Young People in Recovery, Nelson and Rafting 4 Recovery offer an alternative to more traditional recovery programs that are often faith-based. Instead, Nelson uses the power of the environment to help those in recovery or struggling with addiction heal.

“The desert is honest. He doesn’t have the ability to lie to you,” said Nelson, a licensed school psychologist who also worked at Animas High School. “…Nature is so pure and raw and it goes straight to the heart of a person, straight to the root of the problem. This core of the person is also the root of the solution.

While rafting, participants must be present, and the desert environment and activities of the trip help people undergo the intensive and emotional introspection that ultimately leads to change, he said.

“We have the solutions within us, we just need help cultivating them,” he said.

Nelson also runs rafting trips that help veterans, many of whom struggle with trauma and substance use.

When raising funds for the trips, which are free or low cost, Nelson finds immediate and widespread support. But donors are quickly drying up for trips that serve community members who have suffered from drug addiction.

“When I say I’m raising funds for drug addicts, my hands go to my hips and they’re like, ‘It’s good for you.’ Hope it works,” he said. There’s absolutely a shift in how a person views an addict versus a veteran (with) addiction issues.”

Baca has experienced the stigma of addiction firsthand. He hopes that by showing his story, the film can help the Durango community understand that drug addiction affects many families in the area and that recovery is possible.

“(Addiction and recovery) doesn’t look like people under the bridge,” he said. “Addicts and addicts who are really deep into their use become people like me with the right resources.”

Nelson and Seay envision the film paving the way for greater community support and investment in addiction services and programs, as well as prevention.

“The more people start to understand why addiction happens, it helps create more compassion because those stories are rooted in trauma,” Seay said. “When people can gain some compassion and then see that people can recover and recover, that helps increase support.”

“The Flow We Find” will premiere during the Durango Independent Film Festival at 8 p.m. Friday at the Durango Arts Center.


Gladys T. Hensley