Milwaukie rehab houses poised for growth
Supporters of an organization committed to helping people recover from addictions recently planted a tree near Johnson Creek to symbolize the organization's goal of growing in partnership with the city of Milwaukie to provide options and hope for individuals to get clean and sober.
Milwaukie-based Oregon Trail Recovery's growth includes a house that the organization purchased earlier this year. Vicky Spear, Oregon Trail Recovery's clinical supervisor, said the house will be renovated to make a difference with individuals who struggle with addiction by providing services to support their recovery.
Oregon Trail Recovery already runs five houses in the Milwaukie area for about 55 people actively working to escape a cycle of drug and alcohol addiction. Dan Goulet, Oregon Trail Recovery's client placement specialist, said the organization's two houses for men and two houses for women have beds for approximately 45 people among them. A fifth house focusing on detox has 11 additional beds.
Sam Frey, Oregon Trail Recovery's office/HR manager, was a graduate of the organization's programs in March 2016. She said that she became an Oregon Trail Recovery employee soon after her graduation because she "wanted to give back to others what this program gave to me."
Frey grew up in Aumsville, Oregon, a small town east of Salem where she saw how "either people are really successful and go on to college or they struggle with drugs and alcohol." In 2011 she graduated from high school, where she had developed an eating disorder that she said led to a drug addiction and abusive relationships.
Frey said a wakeup call came in July 2015 when she attempted suicide because she realized she was unable to stop using drugs and life seemed meaningless. She said on Aug. 5, 2015, she enrolled in a residential program, a month later enrolled in Oregon Trail Recovery and has been sober ever since.
"When I first came through this program, I had no life skills, and going through Oregon Trail Recovery and working the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I became a productive member of society," she said. "I thought I was meant to die an addict, but through this process I learned that I have a purpose."
Frey believes that Oregon Trail Recovery, AA and sponsorship helped keep her sober. It's important for her to never forget where she comes from. She has since gotten engaged to be married and give birth to her son Austin on Jan. 23.
Support in community
Spear said there are a variety of reasons that peer support becomes an effective tool for addiction recovery. She said the primary reason peers can help people get clean is because individuals in recovery have insight in how to support someone who is willing to take those first steps to get clean.
"They not only have education and understand addiction; they have the ability on a mental, emotional, spiritual and physical level how to guide, mentor or encourage others," Spear said. "Many people have to change everything in their lives, so to have someone who has already done this brings a lot of hope that it is possible. When people isolate and don't reach out, which happens a lot with people that drink alcohol or use drugs, they cut off their peer support and this can lead to depression and a lot of other complex issues."
Milwaukie City Councilor Wilda Parks has been a longtime supporter of Oregon Trail Recovery and along with the city's police chief attended the Aug. 15 tree-planting ceremony near the intersection of 58th Avenue with Johnson Creek Boulevard and the Springwater Trail. Parks said the organization has a well-deserved positive reputation nationwide for training people on the work that can be done in recovery and detox.
"Almost everyone knows someone closely who has had issues with drugs and alcohol," Parks said. "But it's a service that we're hesitant to admit that we need."
Parks mentioned that Oregon Trail Recovery hires people that other organizations would shy away from, which she sees as an additional benefit to the Milwaukie community. She's always happy to promote the organization to skeptical citizens.
"Whether it's density or recovery homes or handicapped people, there's a not-in-my-backyard attitude about a lot of things," Parks said. "But anyone who is trying to make their life better is not doing things that going to pull down someone else's life."
Parks said community members who don't acknowledge the need for recovery services can help perpetuate addiction issues. She mentioned some of her family members have been in recovery for more than 25 years.
"I have other family members who did not go into recovery and are no longer living," she said.
All can benefit
Spear's role as the supervisor is to make sure Oregon Trail Recovery employees are teaching evidenced-based and trauma-informed curriculum for clients in all group therapy sessions.
"This included teaching and educating our counselors as well as supervising them," she said.
Spear said that everyone is stronger with peer support. Her past clients from a professional background, such as doctors and attorneys, already have support infrastructure set up so that when they finish treatment they're in a group that holds them accountable.
"They learn to process life's issues without the usage of alcohol and drugs," she said.
Spear herself experienced a life-changing demonstration of peer support when she went on a whitewater raft trip from Utah to Colorado through a company that strives to challenge people to grow both inside and out by pushing them to the limit.
"The first day in I was so out of my element that I almost collapsed when we pulled our rafts in to set up evening camp," she said. "My peers helped me make it to my tent and by the next morning I knew how much I needed the professional rafter and all of my peers to make it through the trip, because it was something I hadn't done before."
What: Oregon Trail Recovery offers free group meetings that are open to the community every Friday. Potentially covered by insurance, fees are associated with the three-to-six-month structured living programs for people trying to break drug and alcohol addictions.
Where: Family support group meetings are held from 7-8 p.m. on Friday evenings at Oregon Trail Recovery's main office, 10600 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., Suite 200, Milwaukie.
Call: 855-770-0577 (toll free)
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