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Drug treatment program reaches out for help

Center offers only licensed detox clinic in county
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Representatives of an Auburn residential drug treatment center are fighting to keep the program’s doors open, and reaching out to the community for help as lack of funding creates an uncertain future. The South Placer Residential Program is located on D Avenue in Auburn’s Dewitt Center. It is one of several treatment centers offered through the nonprofit rehabilitation organization Sierra Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Sierra Council began in 1972 when it opened a transition house in South Lake Tahoe. The council now has four locations throughout Placer County that offer DUI programs and out-client drug and alcohol rehabilitation services. The residential treatment program is the council’s fifth location and offers people a place to stay for 30,60 or 90 days as they work with counselors to overcome addictions and get back on their feet, said Traci Peters, senior program director for Sierra Council. The center also offers the only licensed detoxification clinic in Placer County, according to Peters. From last year, the council’s budget for the center has dropped $286,236, according to Peters. The funding for Sierra Council’s DUI programs and out-client rehabilitation services is still holding steady, but money for the residential center is fast becoming unavailable, Peters said. With funding cuts from both the state and county, the South Placer center is trying to come up with a plan for offering the same services on a smaller budget, said Bill Monahan, a director on the Sierra Council governing board. “With the financial situation of income, we are reorganizing basically to address the problems of financing with state and county,” Monahan said. Peters said some of the center’s funding also comes from clients who pay for their treatment, but many clients simply don’t have the money right now. “In today’s economy I don’t know many people who could afford to pay for treatment,” she said. Peters said the center recently shut down one of its wings, bringing the number of its usable beds down from 32 to 25. The center is a co-ed facility for adults. It offers group sessions, educational classes and one-on-one counseling to those going through the program. Peters said every Wednesday there is a family night, where staff talks about what family members can expect from those recovering, and what recoverees can expect from their families. “Our vision is to support these individuals in establishing addiction-free lifestyles,” Peters said. “Yes we treat the individual, but in the long-run, we are treating the whole family.” Jennifer Medrano, a registered addiction specialist with Sierra Council who works one-on-one with patients in counseling sessions, said the center is all about getting people to embrace the strongest parts of themselves. “Because we are a social model treatment facility, it’s really about helping the client figure out what their strengths are,” Medrano said. “I do a lot of positive reinforcement. The majority of the people we work with have some kind of trauma (in their lives).” Medrano said counseling sessions help clients get to the bottom of why they drink or use drugs. “I have seen women in here where all they have to do is stay clean to get their kids back, and they can’t do it,” she said. “So the big thing is, why? It’s not one size fits all here.” Giving clients a break from their current environment is key when it comes to the residential center, Medrano said. “I think it’s very therapeutic to be able to remove someone from their environment long enough to get them some clarity,” she said. “I think it’s great intervention.” Monahan said the board of directors is discussing all possible options to raise funds, including applying for grants. “There isn’t going to be a closure as long as we are alive,” he said. The center can’t cut back on its space or programs in small increments to save funds, Peters said. “If we were going to shut any of it down, it would be the whole thing,” she said. Peters said Sierra Council is now looking to the community for fundraising ideas, and would love individuals’ input, because the residential center is there to serve the public. “We are a private nonprofit,” she said. “We do belong to the community.” Monahan was brought to tears Thursday when he described a young woman who knew his daughter. The woman went through alcohol rehabilitation at the South Placer center. “She went through the program and disappeared, and about a year ago I got a Christmas card from her,” he said. Peters said it’s a great feeling to see the success stories that come out of the center. “I get to see that the lie is dead,” she said. “Addicts and alcoholics do recover.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Sierra Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence What: A nonprofit aid organization working to get alcohol and drug addicts clean and back on their feet. Website: sierracouncil.org South Placer Residential Program What: A center operated by the Sierra Council and offering detoxification and counseling services in a residential setting. Where: 11417 D Avenue, Auburn For information or to offer fundraising ideas: Call (530) 885-1917