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Support group for alcohol, drug abusers helps prevent relapse

Denise Sloan

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles regarding Sierra Recovery Center and its programs that will be published on the Community Outlook page.

Alta stopped drinking alcohol and using drugs more than four months ago, thanks to the help of a local support group. Now she’s thinking about joining Sierra Recovery Center’s Relapse Prevention group.

Since she is only working part-time, Alta will pay to attend the groups according to a sliding fee basis. Fees range from $5 to $35 per group session depending on income level. One of SRC’s trained substance abuse counselors will conduct a “needs assessment” during Alta’s outpatient consultation after which she will be enrolled in the weekly group.

“Relapse Prevention is for anyone who is in the early recovery, say from three to six months. This is for people who have gone through some form of treatment already and are working a program in the form of a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous,” said Paul Pabst, SRC’s lead counselor and the group leader of Relapse Prevention.

Clients stay in Relapse Prevention from eight weeks to six months. “I say ‘as long as it takes.’ The longer someone stays in treatment, the higher the success rate they will have,” Pabst said.

Alta, 24, and the rest of the group will learn about stress management, meditation and visualization techniques as well as drug and alcohol relapse education. The group meets for 90 minutes once a week and members cover the gamut of society.

“My groups have all ages and all social levels, from the homeless to M.D.s and lawyers,” said Pabst. “We try to teach them everything to help them work through the cravings that can be both physical and emotional.

“And we help them recognize the signs and symptoms of potential relapse triggers and to be wary of when a crisis hits their life.”

Relapse Prevention can help prepare clients for those unexpected milestones that occur in life without resorting to drugs or alcohol. “Relapses occur long before they start using drugs or alcohol. It could be a day before or a year before. It’s when those old behaviors come back or when someone starts revisiting old people, places and things. That’s when a relapse occurs,” said Pabst.

Alta is anxious to join the group to have that added measure of support as she ventures into the rest of her life clean, sober and hopeful.

SRC has two Relapse Prevention groups. Both meet Tuesdays, one at 10 a.m. and one at 5 p.m.

Sierra Recovery Center offers supervised detoxification, residential substance abuse treatment as well as outpatient treatment and transitional living for men, women and mothers with children. The nonprofit agency also offers Harm Reduction groups, Parenting Education and DUI programs.

For more information call (530) 541-5190.

-Denise Sloan is public relations and fund development director for Sierra Recovery Center.


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