When Darryl “Flea” Virostko checked into Beacon House in 2008, he had some experience with waves. He was a master at riding monster waves and had built a successful career as a professional surfer. With three consecutive Maverick Championships, high-dollar sponsors, and an internal pressure to push harder and be better, Flea found himself riding a wave of alcohol and drug abuse that almost wiped him out.
Having hit his rock bottom, Darryl checked into Beacon House in Pacific Grove, California at the “encouragement” of his family and girlfriend. Like so many people in early recovery, one of the challenges Darryl faced was identifying his Higher Power. His most profound prayers had mostly been to survive and conquer Maverick waves. Those prayers had been answered, and in early recovery he accepted the ocean as his Higher Power—a Power greater than himself.
Experiential treatment wasn’t offered in the treatment of addiction back in the mid 2000’s. But at Beacon House, Darryl was allowed to go surfing with a chaperone once a week. This practice of connecting with his Higher Power regularly, and having a release for his anxious energy, helped Darryl gain focus and reinforced his resolve to stay clean and sober.
Darryl was approached by Beacon to create a Surf and Watersports program for their clients. Beacon House not only recognized the value of experiential therapies, they were willing give him the resources and support to provide their clients with new ways to reconnect with their spirituality and themselves.
“Most of the clients begin their surf therapy sessions as apprehensive beginners. Everyone is at a different level of physical fitness but it’s not about teaching people how to surf. Some clients hop on for the first time and totally rock it. Others struggle with low self confidence. The main objective is to support people getting out of their comfort zone, and building self-confidence by doing something they never thought they could.”
The greatest reward for Darryl, “there are one or two [clients] in every group who have a profound spiritual breakthrough. Overcome with tears and emotion, they experience the vast energy of the ocean and soak it in with every salty splash and sea-misted breath. They float on their boards just beyond the breaks and experience a personal connection with their Higher Power whether it is the Ocean, God, or Light. I am allowed to witness these transformations first-hand and it’s an amazing experience.”
Darryl’s service is helping people get back to what they are passionate about. To replace addiction with healthy passion, whether it’s surfing, fishing, golfing, gardening, painting, writing, or whatever. As addicts and alcoholics many people lose sight of their purpose and their passion. The experiential therapy options offered at Beacon House help to reconnect people with their physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. “To witness the transformation is a privilege … It’s a natural high unlike any other. To be healthy on every level makes room for those moments of spiritual bliss—riding the perfect wave, or observing a spiritual experience in someone else.”