13 December 2017

“They tried to make me go to rehab – I said yes”

Living Rivers Beach House was established in August 2004, described as ‘supported accommodation’ for men and women who desire to live a life free from addictions. It was recognised by Living Rivers Ministries, that many local addicts desired to make lasting changes to their lifestyles. However, it was a struggle to find an atmosphere conducive for recovery. Beach House seeks to provide safe, alcohol and drug-free accommodation.

Within the Beach House recovery programme the following elements are in place;

 Clients are expected to commit to the programme for between 6 and 24 months

 There is complete abstention from substance misuse

 Clients take time with key workers to discuss their personal goals

 Key workers then create an individualised programme tailored to the client’s unique goals.


Devotions – time shared from the Bible on relevant topics and principles that apply to everyday living.

Freedom Process – looking at the way we think, challenging some of our thoughts and giving options that are positive alternatives to negative outlooks.

Healthy Relationships geared to understanding one’s self in relation to God, self, family, colleagues and others.

Health Promotion – essential life skills, a strong focus on the ability to cook and budget for meals.

Self-development – looking at individual areas for improvement, such as, employability.

Vision – looking to the future by means of progressive planning.

Budgeting – money management, planning, saving, dealing with debts.

Recreation – encouraging hobbies and interests and providing free gym membership at the local leisure centres and ‘Fitness First’ initiative.

Day Trips – purposeful outings aimed to be enjoyable, memorable, healthy experiences and sometimes thought-provoking. These include; horse riding, fishing, ice hockey matches, visiting National Trust locations and listening to live orchestral music.

Many rehabs, community detox and addiction units run their programmes for up to 12 weeks. While significant change can take place within this time frame we believe it takes a longer period to build positive habits and break negative ones.


Our approach to helping clients is very relational based. Many people suffering from addictions have extremely complex backgrounds, often with several layers of emotional pain. We strongly believe it is important that the clients feel listened to and understood.

In our experience, most people have confessed that the alcohol or drugs were not the main issue, but rather it is the hurt previously suffered that causes recourse to toxins to suppress emotional turmoil. Our programme aims to find the root of these background problems and together, the client and team members will work through each aspect. This process can take considerable time.

God has made each person with the ability to live in freedom, and Jesus said that He could give us a peace that would pass our understanding. If we would listen and do as Scripture bids us, we would know the truth and this TRUTH will set us free. This is what we seek for everyone in the Living Rivers community, especially those who have clearly exhausted their own resources, and have come to us for help.


What is an addiction? An addiction is a habit or habitual lifestyle that starts off as recreational choice that eventually through time spirals out of control. The end product of this lifestyle of habitual abuse can, to the individual, seem virtually impossible to break. No doubt medically there is more depth to this definition, but in a broad-brush sense, if you habitually eat in an unhealthy manner you may develop a lifestyle of disease /obesity /anorexia. If exposed to stimulative drugs for prolonged periods of times, receptors in the brain will crave increased stimulation and cry out for more and more of the substance deepening the grip they have on our physical body.

Alcohol can originally be taken as a great substance for relaxation, or as a pain-killer, confidence booster and so much more, but once you use it regularly/habitually, it can begin to dictate, demanding more and more consumption. When this happens you may find that you NEED instead of CHOOSE to use the substance for relaxation or confidence. This would describe the transition from recreation to dependence. When this occurs you may find that you will continue to drink even when it affects your marriage, close relationships, employment, health etc.

When an addiction has this kind of grip you will need to seriously consider re-alibrating your priorities before you start losing those dearest to you. Addictions do not respect relationships, children or your bank balance. If you give an inch the addiction will take mile after mile.


For the first ten years of my life, I was raised by a mother who had suffered from an alcohol addiction, for approximately 30 years. When I was 28 years old her drinking had got out of control; she was at death’s door. When I found her she weighed almost 6 stone. After a lot of loving discussion, my mother chose to quit her habit. She committed her life to God and decided she wanted to live in freedom. She spent two years in Beach House rebuilding her life and one year on, she is now enjoying a life totally free from the desire to drink. She enjoys restoration within our family and is living a purposeful life.


After eight years in operation at the Beach House, we have testimonies of;

 Drug dealers now giving back to the community

 Young offenders becoming youth workers

 Suicidal people now volunteering in the voluntary sector

 Business men returning to business sober

 Mothers returning to being primary carers

We have catered for a large variety of people from all sectors of the community aged from 18 to 65.

God sent Jesus with the express purpose to set the captives free, it doesn’t matter whether that captivity is addictions or something else like, fear, past hurts, depression, or unforgiveness. God’s desire is still TOTAL freedom, not partial, not a little, but complete restoration.


Proverbs 23:29-35

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”


Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.


You have the choice, you have the ability, you possess the free gift given to every man of FREE WILL. Like anyone going to the gym, at first you may feel small and not very strong, but if you practise lifting small weights you will progress to bigger and better results. So too when you decide to turn your life around, you may feel incapable, but with God’s help and some nudges in the right direction from the right people you can progress, you can regain your ability to say, “No” when temptation arises. Countless people have said to me over the years, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”. Jesus said, “Once set free, TRULY SET FREE!” My recommendation is to seek that freedom, but as with all matters of personal endeavour, each of us must choose which course to follow.

Pathways for referral

Anyone desiring to come to Beach House should contact us at: Living Rivers Beach House 22 Linenhall St Ballymena Co.Antrim BT42 3BE Tel 028 25 654 700

Written by Ross Knox