Road to recovery: Using the outdoors to help others get clean keeps NAU alumnus sober

Back2Basics residents on hike

At the age when most kids start learning to read, how to ride a bike without training wheels and how to color inside the lines, 6-year-old Roy DuPrez had his first drink.

Growing up in Venice Beach, it wasn’t uncommon for kids to try alcohol at a young age. Most of DuPrez’s friends started drinking in elementary school, and in third grade, he found himself discreetly filling his lunch thermos with Lancers wine—he was addicted. For the next 17 years, alcohol would consume his life.

Unlike a lot of his friends, DuPrez was a functioning alcoholic. Though not necessarily sober, he managed to graduate high school, and moved to Flagstaff to pursue a degree in Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies at Northern Arizona University.

The partying continued through his college years, and for the first time, he felt the negative effects excessive drinking was having on his life.

Roy and Son
DuPrez poses with his 7-year-old son, Emi

“I felt like I was being left behind,” he said. “I didn’t see myself growing and developing as a person, and no one was to blame but myself and the bad decisions I had been making.”

It wasn’t until after graduating from NAU with a master’s in education that he made the conscious decision to change his life. He had his last drink at the age of 26.

With sobriety came the age-old question: Now what?

DuPrez spent the six years of his studies falling in love with Flagstaff. He knew he wanted to stay, but wasn’t sure what to do. He got into real estate for a while, then academic development, then tried roasting coffee, but nothing seemed to leave him fulfilled. Even before getting sober, he enjoyed community service and liked the idea of a career that allowed him to help others. Now, nearly nine years sober, he felt he was ready to pursue one.

[block-quote align=”center”]After what I had been through, I realized I had a lot to offer young adult men struggling with substance abuse. Starting a recovery program seemed like a no-brainer.[/block-quote]

Through his own struggles with sobriety, he realized there was a market not being addressed—a long-term, active, organic, genuine recovery program. He wanted to build something that combined his passion for the outdoors with the 12-step recovery process in a long-term sober living environment where people could not only get sober, but learn to live in sobriety. Back2Basics logo

Thus, Back2Basics Outdoor Adventure Recovery (B2B) was born.

“B2B offers so much more than sobriety. It offers individuals the opportunity to explore the outdoors; pursue an education and learn life skills; engage in individual and group therapy and counseling; learn about nutrition and how to cook; and grow stronger mentally and physically. It teaches people how to be the best versions of themselves.”

B2B is a six-month program, with the option of joining the Beyond the Basics program upon completion that lasts another six months. DuPrez believes this alternative approach to the typical 30-day treatment model allows residents time to adjust to living in sobriety, which means they will be less likely to relapse after they graduate from the program.

Back 2 Basics resident Ryan
Ryan, graduate of Back2Basics and Beyond the Basics

It was that same thinking that drew Ryan to B2B. After struggling with drug addiction, Ryan and his mother looked into rehab options. They narrowed it down to several different programs, but after doing their homework, decided B2B was the best option because of its longer-than-normal program.

“I knew with over a decade of using in my hometown, I needed as long as I could to get away from that.”

Open to young adult males ages 18-30 who struggle with substance abuse, the program has had nearly 200 men successfully complete the program in the nine years it has been operating.

The reason his program has been so successful? DuPrez believes it is, in part, because of this community. His residents are able to choose from more than 200 12-step meetings Flagstaff offers each week, and stay active in the community by volunteering at Grand Canyon Youth, Habitat for Humanity, the food bank and homeless shelter. After they graduate, many of them choose to stay—DuPrez has worked with several businesses in Flagstaff, like Late for the Train, Fat Olives, Salsa Brava and Josephine’s American Bistro to provide former residents jobs.

“There’s an awesome community here in Flagstaff, not just in our B2B community, but in the 12-step community here as well,” said Ryan, former B2B resident who now lives and works in Flagstaff. “I know what’s back home. I know all the wrong people and all the wrong places—going back to that would be a disaster. I’ve built such a strong foundation here in Flagstaff, and there’s really no reason to leave.”

DuPrez and Jarecki
Jarecki (right) and DuPrez pose with residents of Back2Basics in the KJACK radio studio.

In addition to what the town offers, DuPrez has maintained a close connection with NAU. Not only do his residents often attend the university part-time while they’re enrolled in the program, or full-time after they graduate, but DuPrez will often guest lecture in classes about life as an addict in hopes of preventing others from following in his footsteps. He also helps produce a weekly KJACK radio show with former B2B resident Matthew Jarecki, where each week, guest speakers and parents of addicts talk about the role addiction has played in their lives.

DuPrez realizes not everyone is going to enjoy culinary, be into the outdoor trips—that include mountain biking, snowboarding, surfing and river rafting—or allow themselves to open up in therapy, but his program was built to offer a variety of ways to sobriety in hopes that something clicks.

[block-quote align=”center”]At the end of the day, what gets them sober doesn’t matter, so long as something does.[/block-quote]

This year, DuPrez is celebrating his 17th year of sobriety, Ryan his third and Jarecki his fifth.


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Carly Banks | NAU Communications
(928) 523-5582 | carly.banks@nau.edu

Corderro McMurry and Erik Sather | NAU-TV
Corderro.McMurry@nau.edu, Erik.Sather@nau.edu