Netflix isn't the first outlet to show the reality behind addiction, but with Recovery Boys, it has become home to an important docuseries about a group of men at a rehabilitation farm called Jacob’s Ladder. It’s a legitimate rehab center in real life and since the series premiered on the streaming platform, viewers have no doubt been wondering where Jacob’s Ladder is located. The name for the rehab farm comes from the Bible, which isn't all that surprising since Alcoholics Anonymous also uses the Bible as inspiration to stay on the straight and narrow and adopt a sober way of living. In the Bible, Jacob’s Ladder refers to a dream that Jacob had in which he saw a stairway, or ladder, reaching from earth all the way up to Heaven.
According to the scripture, in his dream Jacob saw angels going up and down and God at the very top. And when he woke up from the dream, he came to the conclusion that it was meant to be a gate to Heaven. Essentially, it’s believed to symbolize the belief in church and God and that through religion, you’re gradually ascending to a place in Heaven.
On Recovery Boys, Jacob’s Ladder also refers to the actual farm where the men stay in order to work through their individual addictions and get their lives back on track. It’s located on Brookside Farm in Aurora, West Virginia, but it also uses part of the 132 acre Cathedral State Park nearby and the residential area adjacent to the farm. Here, the men stay in modest living quarters and can take part in different classes apart from farm-related activities.
The belief is that through working on the farm and also engaging in 12 step programs and therapy sessions, these men will be able to beat their addictions and leave the farm with ways to cope and continue to work through their daily lives while staying sober. According to the website for Jacob’s Ladder, the idea is that "an active, working farm often resembles a life of recovery. The work is never complete. Seasons dictate the daily tasks but there is always work to be done."
As seen in Recovery Boys, Jacob’s Ladder Brookside is designed to rehabilitate individuals by involving them in farm work as well as wilderness, music, and art therapy. There are also times when family and loved ones of the patients will visit the farm to participate in group family therapy sessions as part of the program. The three subjects of Netflix’s Recovery Boys complete a six month long stint on the farm while the series documents the struggles they endure trying to get clean and stay that way.
Recovery Boys comes from filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon who previously directed 2017’s Heroin(e), a similar film based in West Virginia which followed women as opposed to the men. "I had seen enough in the media about the problem. I wanted to show life through the eyes of people in recovery," Sheldon told The New York Times of her drive behind following the men of Recovery Boys. "When we embarked on this, it really was trying to find something that gave me hope. I wanted to find people who were actively trying to do something about the situation," she said.
While some reality TV shows or specials might seem like they have a certain amount of producer interference or manipulation, Recovery Boys is as raw and real as it gets — right down to Jacob’s Ladder, which is very much real and available to anyone else who may need it.