A Guide for Picking the Right Freedom Model Option for your Addiction


Over the course of the last 32 years, we’ve received thousands of questions about whether someone should come to our retreat or not for help with their addictions. The answer is not as simple as one might think. The answer might be an easy one for a rehab or outpatient clinic – their answer is always yes, because they want your money. But for us here at St. Jude’s and The Freedom Model, we have so many effective options in addition to the retreat experience, we can cater the solution to the severity of the individual’s problem and to their specific circumstances. Matching the correct Freedom Model option to each individual is vital if you want to build a scenario for success.

So let’s go through some scenarios and provide details on the service that may make the most sense for each situation. Please know that this article is a rough guide, and to know which option is best for you personally, you might want to call to discuss your situation in detail at this number, 888-424-2626 or at these websites: www.soberforever.net or www.thefreedommodel.org

First, let me list what options exist under the Freedom Model tent so when I discuss them in relation to actual life scenarios, you have some context:

  1. The Saint Jude Retreat – a 3 to 4 week residential stay at our Retreat where each guest has one-on-one classes with a certified Freedom Model Instructor to learn The Freedom Model curriculum.
  2. Freedom Model Private Instruction – This one is much like the class experience you might have at the retreat with one-on-one instruction, except the sessions are done via video conference such as Zoom, Facetime, or Skype so students can be home. Classes can be scheduled around their work and other obligations.
  3. The Freedom Model Online Program – This is just like our at home Private Instruction option listed above, but instead of a live instructor, the entire online experience is pre-recorded lessons taught by Freedom Model co-developers and founders, Mark Scheeren and Michelle Dunbar.
  4. The Freedom Model for the Family Program – This is similar to the Freedom Model Online Program above, in that, it is pre-recorded lessons taught by Mark Scheeren and Michelle Dunbar. This online program is specifically designed to provide information, guidance, and help for loved ones (family members, friends, co-workers, etc.) of those with an addiction.
  5. The Freedom Model for Addictions, and The Freedom Model for the Family books and audio books.

Scenario One – The St. Jude Retreat

If you are someone who has been struggling for a while, and your situation at home is chaotic at some level, a stay at the retreat for a few weeks might be a good solution. Any of the other options listed below demand a certain level of time and commitment at home. But, if your life, or your substance use habit are anything like mine was, going somewhere to separate yourself from your daily rituals might be what you need to break down some of the habit while you are learning how to rebuild your life.  When Mark Scheeren discussed the how the company begin, he said ” I was not in a position where I felt I could learn everything I needed to know to move on from my addictions without someone to discuss things with directly. And I needed to be able to focus on the learning which I never would have been able to do from home at that time. I needed to break the chains of my daily counterproductive routines, and make a new start. Mark attended the Baldwin House (which was the original St. Jude Retreat in 1989 before the name was changed) and learned directly from the Freedom Model’s original researcher, Jerry Brown.

In a nutshell, if life is so distracting that it takes you away from the learning process, the retreat is probably your best option.

Scenario Two – Freedom Model Private Instruction (FMPI)

Some people learn best through discussion.  We consider FMPI to be the “retreat-lite” option for lack of a better way to describe it. With this option, you’re still having one-on-one instruction with a certified instructor just like the retreat experience, but less of it. Consequently, some homework is required, so the person needs to have some initiative. The classes are completed from home over Zoom, Skype or Facetime. This is a wonderful option for those who can schedule in a couple of classes per week into their busy personal life. Again, in order for FMPI to be effective, these folks need a lifestyle that has just enough stability to not need to leave their living situation temporarily as might be the case with someone who needs a retreat stay. Also, if you have children that require your attention and/or a career that requires attention, this might also be a great option because classes can be scheduled where you see fit.

Scenario Three – Freedom Model Online Program (FMOP)

FMOP is fantastic for the new generation of people who really warm up to learning through pre-recorded video lessons. For those whose issues don’t demand leaving their home situations, or whose careers demand they work and they can’t leave their jobs for weeks, FMOP is another amazing option. If you are someone that learns through pre-recorded video (let’s say through social media, YouTube, or the like), then FMOP might be perfect. All lessons are taught by Freedom Model co-developers, Mark Scheeren and Michelle Dunbar. Another thing about both FMOP and FMPI above, is that if you begin your journey with any of these two options, and you determine you do actually need more help than what you initially thought, then the retreat is always there. So starting with the online options may be the perfect starting point if you are unsure of where you sit.

Scenario Four – The Freedom Model for the Family Program

This is another online program. (It is currently in the final development stages and will go live in April 2022.) This option is designed for anyone associated with the substance user that is looking for a method to deal with the strained relationships there. Like FMOP above it is all pre-recorded video lessons with Freedom Model addiction experts, Mark Scheeren and Michelle Dunbar. For every substance user, there are others that are close to them that are also hurt by the substance users habits. This program addresses all those issues and is engaged in from the comfort of home as well.

Scenario Five – The FM Books and Audio Books

Thousands have found a solution by reading or listening to our books. To best understand how the Freedom Model text can help you, go to Amazon and read the book reviews there.

Summary – Do You Need the Retreat?

The answer is only if you determine you need it. Thousands have come from all over the world to learn the Freedom Model because they do not want to be saddled with having to go to meetings, attend rehabs, be falsely diagnosed with a disease they don’t have, etc. They feel the need to “get away” so they can learn the material and move past their struggles. If that’s you, we are here for you. If not, but you still need help, there are four other options that can fit you needs. We are here for you!


Check out Freedom Model Private Instructor, Matthew Sparks, detailed breakdown of this article