SAN ANTONIO – The Los Patios campus celebrated Fiesta with all the traditional favorites except for booze on Saturday afternoon.
Substance disorder centers, recovery houses and other community organizations partnered together to normalize fun without alcohol and to support those actively battling substance dependency.
Christine Varela Mayer, PhD, is the owner of Los Patios and a licensed chemical dependency counselor. Varela Mayer is also the CEO of Blue Heron Recovery, a rehabilitation and recovery service provider at the Los Patios campus.
Los Patios is an alcohol-free campus and is also home to public restaurants, a yoga studio, shops and a medical clinic.
“We’ve only been in Los Patios for a year,” Varela Mayer said. “We opened up the outpatient treatment center in March of last year.”
She dreamed up the idea of Sober Fiesta, where attendees can enjoy themselves without worrying about alcohol.
“The entire city shuts down for Fiesta, but for folks who are new to recovery or choosing not to participate in alcoholic events, it’s a little problematic sometimes,” Varela Mayer said.
Alex Adkins is a client at Blue Heron Recovery.
“I’ve been in this process since August,” Adkins said. “This is a real safe space for me to be in and just get to be myself.”
During his eight months of sobriety, Adkins said he usually plans an escape route while at social gatherings.
“I’ve got to be aware of who’s going to be there (and) what’s going to be going on,” Adkins said. “Also, it’s nice to have like a little exit strategy just in case it turns into something I don’t want to be around.”
A community celebration without the pressure of being offered a beer or cocktail, Adkins said, is encouraging for him and those who embrace a healthy or sober lifestyle.
“It’s super freeing. It’s really a relief,” Adkins said. “(Seeing others drink alcohol) can be a trigger, but it can also kind of, I don’t know ,in a way reinforce (sobriety) because you get to see kind of the ugly side.”
Hundreds attended Saturday’s public event and more than 20 sponsors supported Varela Mayer and her team’s mission to normalize sober fun in the community.
To learn more about Blue Heron Recovery, click here.