I was really taken aback by a headline in a recent Boston Globe article about a drug addict who claimed he had been to hell and back and is doomed to a life of anguish and pain.
It made me think immediately of San Patrignano, a winery we’ve visited several times. Located near Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast, San Patrignano is much more than a winery. It is a unique drug and alcohol rehab center that demands a lot of its participants.
First, a potential candidate has to literally be desperate for help. San Patrignano demands a commitment of 4 years with no visitors and no leaving the compound. The regimen is based on education and rehabilitation. No drugs are ever used but rather ‘physiotherapeutic and psychiatric interventions.’
When a person comes into the community, they are placed into one of the 50 training sectors at San Patrignano. Here they are entrusted to a resident who becomes their mentor for the first year who follows their progress. The resident lives in the room together with the mentor and with other residents in the program. Each room has a resident in charge and each sector has one or more educators. These are mainly the groups within which the resident will spend their day-to-day life in the community.
Whenever we’ve visited (you have to be invited and escorted to enter), there have been over 1,000 people,men and women, in the compound. They eat together in a communal dining room and the food is prepared and served by residents. We’ve had lunch with the community and were surprised when the
director asked if we wanted wine with our lunch. Wine or any alcoholic beverages are never served but it was explained to us that members of the community learn to have self control.
Everyone has to select a trade or vocation from the 50 sectors. They can choose sectors from carpentry, metal working, farming as a few examples, or wine making. I found it ironic that recovering alcoholics might be working at the winery but that is part of the therapy.
The winery is a state of the art facility and it consistently receives 3 Glass awards, producing over 500,000 bottles annually. The proceeds of the wine sales, just like the proceeds from the products produced in the other sectors, all go to sustain the facility.
San Patrignano was founded in 1978 by Vincenzo Muccioli almost like a garagiste, treating one person at a time. It has since expanded to its current impressive facility. I don’t know if there are any similar facilities anywhere else in the world but from my perspective, it is a great template that should be emulated and put into practice in other parts of the world.