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Phoenix House offers path to escape addiction

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette The Phoenix House substance abuse impatient treatmen facility in Calumet offers those wanting to recover from crippling addictions a new hope for a life of freedom from substance abuse and its dispair.

Simply stated, addiction can kill. And it often does.

It doesn’t have to be the end.

While many people suffering addiction can reach a point of hopelessness or a feeling of being trapped by their addictions, there are ways out of addiction and into recovery for those who truly want to regain their sobriety, physical, and mental health.

There are certain steps that must be taken.

The first step, as outlined in Alcoholics Anonymous, is to “admit that we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.” That’s it.

Ariel Miron, clinic supervisor at Phoenix House in Calumet, agrees.

“Usually the first step is just acknowledging that, and seeking help,” Miron said. “That can be outpatient or inpatient help.”

According to recovery.org, the first step is about letting go, admitting to being powerless over a substance or substances.

Admitting powerlessness is a path to strength as well as freedom.

There is a negative view of addiction and of “addicts” in the United States, but most 12-step programs take negativity into account, and emphasize to the person in recovery: “What people think about you is none of your business.” What is of concern is recovering, regaining and retaining sobriety, and learning to live without using substances. Recovery programs will help with those topics.

The Phoenix House does not take insurance, but does accept private payments, or state insurances. Locally, those matters are taken care of by a company called NorthCare Network of Marquette, whose website states: “NorthCare Network ensures that every eligible recipient receives quality specialty mental health and substance use disorder services and supports through the responsible management of regional resources.”

Miron said the perspective patient is carefully screened by NorthCare to determine the level of care or treatment needed, and what resources are available.

“They do everything right over the phone,” she said. “Once the screening by Northcare is completed, they will make a three-way phone call to whatever treatment agency you want to go to, then once the phone call is done, the agency will schedule you a date you want to come in, and you get set up to come in.”

Once a person becomes a patient at the Phoenix House, Miron said, a counselor will work with the patient and develop a treatment plan.

“From there you will go through the treatment plan while you’re here,” she said. “You’ll do a minimum of 30 days of inpatient care. You’ll learn life skills, relapse prevention, emotions management, a twelve-step program… there are a number of topics that will be addressed while the patient is here.”

Once the patient leaves treatment, living substance-free is entirely up to the individual, and completion of treatment, in and of itself, does not guarantee the rest of a person’s life will be free of substance abuse.

“Our successful completion rate of the program is 70 percent,” Miron said, “but determining if they’re going to stay sober after they leave the program is up to them. That’s a different number.”

“The person has to want it,” she said.

Continuation of care after the inpatient, or outpatient, program is crucial, she added. Continuing care can include a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, which have regular meetings throughout the Copper Country. In these programs, the individual is never alone in recovery.

Whether an individual completes a treatment program, or just decides to quit and attend meetings and follow the guidelines of a 12-step program, the person in recovery will be surprised at the support available to him or her.

“There’s support there,” Miron said. “It’s a small community and a lot of people don’t think that there is a lot of support in this community, but I believe there is, and it’s growing. The support is growing, and it’s important for people to reach out.”

A.A. is, as the name states, an anonymous program. But many who attend meetings for the first time are surprised to see a number of people they know, which often provides an added level of security and comfort to the newcomer or “newbie.”

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