The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes men middle-aged and older commit suicide more than any other demographic. With cultural expectations to be a provider, to be strong and successful but also stoic and impervious to emotion, it’s no wonder why mature men routinely report having the highest level of psychological stress. Sovereign Health’s Palm Desert treatment facility offers a solution: Personal Recovery Integrating Men’s Experiences (P.R.I.M.E.), a program made specifically for mature men.
John P., a recent patient of the program, can attest to the benefits of P.R.I.M.E.
Personal Recovery Integrating Men’s Experiences
John is from Lynn, Massachusetts. He is 58, a recovering alcoholic and has bipolar disorder. He went through four treatment centers before arriving in Sovereign’s Palm Desert facility. “They were all the same,” he says. “You get a 10-minute break and then they drag you back for more treatment.”
John has been in the P.R.I.M.E. program since early September. Things came to a head for him back home in Lynn. Going through a divorce, his job was in jeopardy, and he was living in fear of being homeless. “One day I bought some Klonopin and took it. I don’t remember anything that happened after that. First time that had ever happened.” Instead of trudging back to Quincy or some other locale for treatment, John found himself on a plane to California. And he couldn’t be happier being here.
Solidarity and camaraderie
P.R.I.M.E. is for men 40 and older who have mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring conditions (dual diagnosis). As John tells it, there is just something special about being housed and going through treatment with guys his own age. “There’s a bond that develops,” he says. “I have nothing against kids, but it’s nice not to have young girls running up and down the hallway screaming because someone took their cell phone.”
Patients stay an average of 45 to 60 days in P.R.I.M.E. They have their own residences where they do the cooking, says John. They attend 12-step meetings, go to movie and enjoy the balmy desert heat out by the pool. But, as John notes, this isn’t just frivolity. The camaraderie he feels for his fellow patients is borne more from shared life experiences than cannonball competitions. “These guys have been where I’ve been,” he says. “They get me.”
In their prime
The men engage in many of the same counseling and therapy as other Sovereign Health patients. These include cognitive and alternative therapies, group and individual counseling. What makes P.R.I.M.E. different from other program, says John, is the people. “These people, the counselors, the nurses, the staff, they are unbelievably nice. They really care.” As for John, he is in no rush to get home to Lynn. “My insurance company wants to keep me here for as long as possible. They don’t want me to go through another one of these [programs].”
When asked what he thinks will be different this time, John says, “Coping skills. I am finally learning coping skills. I know when I get back I’ll be able to use these.”