The Retreat

The Retreat, in Wayzata, was recently awarded a $250,000 grant, which will be used for scholarships for people living in greater Minnesota who want to access the organization’s services.

A $250,000 grant will allow The Retreat to serve about 100 more people seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addictions.

The grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation will be used as a scholarship fund for people in greater Minnesota who want to access services at the Wayzata organization, said The Retreat President John Curtiss. The Retreat has about 150 beds and offers recovery programs for men, women, older adults and families.

“We’re very grateful for the grant,” Curtiss said. “We give about $300,000 each year in scholarships, so this will go a long way toward helping people in greater Minnesota.”

“The Otto Bremer Foundation is pleased to support The Retreat,” said Otto Bremer Foundation co-CEO and trustee Daniel Reardon in a press release. “The services it provides are truly life changing and are an important resource for people in recovery.”

Curtiss said that about 50 percent of the people who stay at The Retreat are from Minnesota, with about 40-45 percent coming from around the United States and about 5-10 percent coming from other countries. Of the Minnesotans who seek services at the organization, the vast majority come from the seven-county metro area, he said.

The cost of a 30-day stay at The Retreat is $4,700. The Otto Bremer Foundation grant, Curtiss said, will allow the organization to give scholarships to approximately 80-100 people from greater Minnesota, depending on the amount of each scholarship.

“If somebody wants help [at The Retreat], money won’t be the reason they don’t get it,” Curtiss said.

The Retreat is not treatment, he said, rather it offers an immersion into the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Curtiss describes it as “a supportive, educational, retreat model.”

In the 1990s when Curtiss was working at Hazelden, he was in a group of people who came together to discuss how to create a new model to help people addicted to drugs and alcohol. They wanted to find a way to lower the quickly rising costs of treatment. Curtiss said the group met for seven years and researched a number of methods before they landed on the model that The Retreat now uses.

In 1998, Curtiss left Hazelden to try out the new method.

“It turned out, it was extremely effective,” he said.

Costs are kept much lower than at addiction treatment centers because The Retreat does not offer the same level of clinical care as those facilities give their clients. Many people struggling with their use of drugs and alcohol know they have a problem and they are motivated to make changes in their lives, Curtiss said. Those are the kinds of people who might benefit from services at recovery facilities.

Aside from keeping costs down, the method also helps people stay sober. According to independent follow-up evaluations conducted through 2012 on people who used The Retreat’s services, 59.2 percent reported a total and continuous abstinence from all mood-altering chemicals for six months and 55.9 percent reported a continuous abstinence from all mood-altering chemicals for 12 months.

More information about The Retreat may be found online at