Counselors Help Stop Cycle of Addiction

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), November 8, 2004 | Go to article overview

Counselors Help Stop Cycle of Addiction


Byline: Anne Williams The Register-Guard

Stephanie McFaull did not come to Prevention and Recovery Northwest by choice.

It was "a nudge from the judge," she explained, that got her in the door last spring for her first relapse prevention group meeting. Fresh from serving three months in jail for her third drunken driving conviction, she had once again started drinking.

"I came to Prevention and Recovery Northwest kind of because it was the only place I hadn't tried," said McFaull, who has been in and out of treatment more than a dozen times since she took a fateful sip of a screwdriver 14 years ago.

Now 41, McFaull has been clean and sober since March, and says she is happy and hopeful for the first time in years. She attends Alcoholic Anonymous meetings every day, but says her weekly two-hour meetings at Prevention and Recovery Northwest's Roosevelt Boulevard office have been a critical part of her recovery.

"It's very open - there's a real sense of trust," said McFaull, who worked as a teacher's assistant in the Tigard schools before alcohol - coupled with a pre-existing eating disorder - spun her life out of control. "And I think (counselor) Eve (Lathrop) really does care. If you don't show up one week, she's on you."

It is the care and respect with which she and other counselors treat their clients that sets the agency apart, Lathrop said. In her 15 years working as a drug and alcohol counselor, mostly in Washington state, she grew to dislike the punitive, hierarchical approach some agencies took toward their clients.

"We take the clients where they're at," she said. "We're not a punishment. The courts and everyone else did all that before they got to us. We're here to teach them new education and to challenge the beliefs they brought in with them."

Founded as Drinking Decisions in 1978, the agency offers a wide range of services to individuals, couples and families, including evaluation and assessment, group therapy, outpatient treatment, counseling, monitoring and referrals. Besides the relapse prevention group McFaull attends, the agency offers groups for men or women only, drug and alcohol education classes and anger management classes.

United Way of Lane County provides a little over 5 percent of its annual $700,000 budget, executive director Ann-Marie Bilderback said. The remainder comes from client-paid fees, the Oregon Health Plan and insurance companies. Pacific Continental Bank contributes a small amount, she said.

While most of the 10 counselors work at one of the four sites, Tricia Card works exclusively at Kelly Middle School with youngsters. The agency lost funding for a second youth counselor, but Card works with students with a host of challenges, including drug and alcohol dependence, grief, depression, anger, abuse and even poor study skills. …

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