Substance abuse center opens North Shore office |

Substance abuse center opens North Shore office

Melissa Siig
Emma Garrard / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza / Terry Lynn Tuttle of the Sierra Recovery Center opened a branch at the D.W. Reynolds Community Non-profit Center in Incline Village.

INCLINE VILLAGE – Terry Lynn Tuttle hadn’t even finished unpacking her boxes when the first people started showing up at her door. With only a small sign advertising the Sierra Recovery Center’s new satellite office in the Parasol Community Foundation’s Donald W. Reynolds Building, parents were finding their way to talk to Tuttle about their children’s drug and alcohol abuse problems.

“My impression is that there’s a need for these services up here,” said Tuttle, a counselor with the center. “We’re here to be a presence and remind people that there is a substance abuse problem in Incline, although it may be more under the surface than in other areas.”

The non-profit Sierra Recovery Center, which has offered drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs in South Lake Tahoe since 1970, opened its Incline branch on Sept. 1. It will provide outpatient services and support groups for substance abusers of all ages and their families.

Incline’s Sierra Recovery Center follows a three-fold mission: to increase awareness of substance abuse issues in the area, to provide services for substance abusers and their families that is convenient and to reduce the percentage of people who are using drugs and alcohol in a problematic way.

One reason the Sierra Recovery Center decided to open an office in Incline was to make it more convenient for people seeking help. Before the center opened, people would have to drive to South Shore, Reno or Carson City to find non-profit substance abuse services. According to Sgt. Bill Devine of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, distance can often prevent people from getting the treatment they need.

“If people have to go out of town, they tend not to be as good at getting services,” he said.

The sheriff’s office has recently observed an increase in the number of DUIs. The normal monthly average is 10 to 20 DUIs, but last month 36 people were arrested for driving under the influence, according to Devine. Before the arrival of a Sierra Recovery Center in Incline, convicted drivers often could not enter an alcohol treatment program even if they wanted to because they had a suspended license.

“If you lose your license temporarily, how are you going to get somewhere if you have to drive 40 miles?” Devine said. “By having something up here and accessible, that’s a good thing.”

Howard Thomas, executive director of the Parasol Foundation, said that the Sierra Recovery Center fills an important social services gap in Incline Village.

“It broadens the spectrum of services available to the community at large,” he said, comparing it to Tahoe Women’s Services and the Children’s Cabinet. “Every population has a need for these kinds of services.”

Unlike the South Lake Tahoe facility, the Incline Village branch does not offer inpatient detox and residential living programs. It will concentrate on outpatient services for people with a solid support system who are trying to stay sober. By Oct. 1, Tuttle hopes to start leading support groups that will meet three times a week for three hours, along with one-hour individual and family counseling sessions. She also hopes to offer awareness groups for people who are just starting to think about getting help for their addictions, as well as assisting parents in determining whether their child has an actual drug or alcohol problem.

Incline’s Sierra Recovery Center can also provide urinalysis and breathalyzer tests for people under court supervision.

Tuttle, a psychotherapist and family counselor, moved from Washington, D.C., last month to open the Incline Village office. In her first four days on the job, she has already had one to two people a day stopping by her office asking for information about treating substance abusers. Most were worried about their children’s marijuana use.

“The parents have (young adult) children who are not working a full-time job to their potential, who are not really joining the adult world,” she said.

While Tuttle has heard mostly from concerned parents so far, she guesses that some of the community’s older residents could suffer from drinking or drug problems as well.

“Older drinkers tend to drink in their homes and not in bars, so you have a lot of folks in my age group (with drinking problems),” said Tuttle, who is 50.

Alcohol abuse often goes hand-in-hand with gambling and casinos. Tuttle cites a 2004 national survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that found that 1 in 10 people in Nevada have a drinking problem, and that 21 percent of adults engage in binge drinking. That places Nevada along the national average.

“With casinos, it’s more acceptable to drink heavily and to excuse it, to say, ‘Oh, I’m just having a good time,'” she said.

New center

Sierra Recovery Center is located in the Parasol Building at 948 Incline Way and is open Mon.-Fri. from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Call (775) 298-0254 for more information.

Fast facts

— Each person with a drug and alcohol abuse problem affects at least four other people

— 1 in 10 people in Nevada has a drinking problem

— 21 percent of adults in Nevada engage in a binge drinking pattern

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