Wake up to rehabilitation

SEASIDE - Helping people clear the "cobwebs" 12 steps at a time.

That is the mission of Awakenings by the Sea, a rehabilitation facility that has opened its doors in Seaside.

The state of Oregon is ranked 47th in available addiction treatment in the country and ranked fourth in need for addiction treatment, according to Jim Arnold, chief executive officer of Awakenings by the Sea.

"Our goal is to help restore the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health to these individuals, so they can be productive members of society," said Arnold. "Unfortunately, many of these people have more than one addiction," said Arnold. The programs are 30, 60 and 90 days with the first 30 days costing patients $7,500 and declining by $500 increments from there.

In defense of the cost, Arnold said a $21,000 price tag for a 90-day round of treatment in the Awakenings facility is what some facilities elsewhere charge for 30 days. In comparison, the Betty Ford Center charges $24,000 for a 30-day inpatient treatment program, according to the Web site.

"(For the cost) people are hopefully getting well," said Arnold. "What kind of price tag can you put on that. The cost also covers individual and group treatments, room and board, family visitations on Saturdays and aftercare. "There is also a discovery of the disease process and hopefully the tools to lead a happy, healthy, normal life."

Aftercare is for those patients who need additional support after completing the program.

"It's not unlike out-patient care. If they have issues with life on life's terms, they can come back for additional counseling," said Arnold.

He also said that initially the plan for the facility had been to provide care for "high-end" clients, working professionals, but realized that "we were kind of missing the point."

"White collar, blue collar, no collar, we're here to help," said Arnold. "We didn't expect to get rich off of this."

Arnold says that while Awakenings is a business, it is also a service to the community and that the facility has taken on eight patients in the last three months who could not pay for the care they received. Those patients who received care without being billed were locals referred to the facility by LifeWorks and individuals seeking treatment for their addiction.

According to LifeWorks Director Michel Meiffren, it would be "advantageous to the recovering community here" for Awakenings to be certified to receive clients who are without insurance. The uninsured would be covered by the Oregon Health Plan under indigent care. Awakenings is in the process of being OHP certified.

"We have referred four clients to Awakenings and they took one in," said Meiffren. "To their credit, they opened two beds for indigent care."

Meiffren says the most important part of the recovery and care process is to have a continuum of care that follows through from a 12-step program to inpatient care to detox to aftercare to the 12-steps again.

"The more that continuum of care is established, the better for the community, and Awakenings is part of that continuum," said Meiffren.

The facility is licensed to care for 15 patients in a residential treatment program, during which patients are allowed to have supervised walks and are escorted to two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week outside the facility.

"Individuals spend 98 percent of their time confined to the building," said Arnold.

Those in treatment are free to leave, if they wish, but for the duration of their stay in the facility, they must participate in group activities and are either supervised by staff or self-supervised in groups of no fewer than three patients.

Patients are examined by an "on-call physician" when they initially check in to the facility, undergoing a basic physical and an inspection of all medications they may be taking to ensure that "what's in the bottle matches what's on the label." The patient's state of addiction is measured by standards created by the American Psychiatric Association, thus placing that diagnosis in the hands of physicians and councilors rather than in the hands of family members, as would occur in a traditional treatment program.

Internally, Awakenings has round-the-clock care on hand for those in residence and also provides in-house counseling that is supervised by Kris Hansen.

Hansen used to be employed by LifeWorks and according to Meiffren, the staff at LifeWorks has "the highest regard for her."

Hansen says the program uses a combination of the Minnesota Model which, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is "typically characterized by a thorough and ongoing assessment of all aspects of the client and of the multimodal therapeutic approaches," and is employed by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar recovery programs.

Hansen says she has been working in recovery treatment since the early 1990s, including in- and out-patient treatments.

"I prefer the intensity of residential treatment programs," said Hansen. She said that she "had a career change sort of midlife" from business management to psychology.

"I realized I wanted to help people," said Hansen.

The level of addiction assessment also determines the length of stay for a patient.

In the long-term, Awakenings will be comprised of three facilities - the Seaside site, a site in Bend and a site in Portland. The proposed Bend and Portland facilities are still in the theoretical stages at this point.

The building housing Awakenings, at 1325 N. Holladay Dr., Seaside, is a renovated church but is far removed from its roots as such. It was purchased by other owners as a potential home and then purchased by Arnold and his investors. According to Arnold, the community as much as the building helped him make the decision to locate the facility here. Annually, Seaside plays host to conventions for those in recovery and that, says Arnold, was one of those important community factors.

"Clearly, the community here is supportive of people trying to better themselves and get well," he said.

Arnold said the venture was a first-time effort for him and that his group of investors are all private investors who are in recovery.

"This is an avenue to give back," said Arnold.

The facility is unique, according to Arnold, in the features provided by Awakenings. There are bedrooms that are two or three beds to a room, several bathrooms, two sets of stairways that connect each floor of the house and a feeling of a large home.

'Feeling of home'

"Every client here or that has come through, said we have given them the feeling of home," said Arnold. "One man said this facility had done in 30 days what another hadn't done in 90. That bodes well for the treatment modality."

Arnold praised local business owners and the neighborhood around Awakenings for being supportive and understanding the economic and social impacts of addiction upon a community.

"All the neighbors are elated that we've improved the look of the neighborhood and increased their property values," said Arnold. He said neighbors were most concerned about the possible increase in traffic through their neighborhood but said their fears were eased when it was explained that the facility encourages patients to be driven to the facility, rather than driving themselves.

"We are not a lock-down facility and we believe it's better not to have extra cars sitting around outside," said Arnold.

When a patient completes a treatment program, they are given a party of sorts that includes their fellow recoverers as well as their families.

"People are so grateful to get their loved ones back," said Arnold.

source: Daily Astorian