I talk to the receptionist, Anne, and she tells me about the clinic. This one is fairly small, fifteen rooms or so. Outpatient only, this clinic is mainly a place for people to have some quick community support for their addictions and to place people into programs that they need or find them support groups. Anne tells me that almost everyone who comes there had asked for help that day.
About twenty people work full or part-time at the clinic, mostly as counselors and as group leaders. Most of the clientele are white collar workers, people whose health insurance cover the cost of the clinic. She tells me that the majority of people who come in for treatment come for alcohol addiction, though in last five years crystal meth has quietly become more popular in Oregon. They usually don’t deal with the meth users as extensively here, though, because the neighborhood is fairly upper-class and crystal meth isn’t very popular here as it is in other areas of Portland, particularly in the outlying areas beyond the suburbs. She tells me it was getting pretty bad for a while because it’s ridiculously easy to make crystal meth with common supermarket items, at least until tighter restrictions were put on some of the main ingredients, particularly pseudoephedrines like Sudafed.
I talk to her for little while and she gets a hold of one of the group leaders to give me a breakdown of what the typical session is like. A tiny hispanic woman in a smart looking navy blue pant suit approaches me and introduces herself as Lora Hanson, and begin...
... middle of paper ...
...hat they go through various exercises, like role-playing in which you play the role of a family member or friend confronting you about your addiction, or guided meditation. Sometimes they use acupuncture during guided meditation, putting needles in people’s ears to help them fight of their cravings.
In the end I found that Lora found her job deeply satisfying, though she was the first to admit that she wasn’t always successful in helping people.” Some people just don’t want to be helped.” She told me that it wasn’t always easy to tell which people were going to make it all the way to recovery, the ones who seem like they will never make it out of the hole that life put them in miraculously make it out while those who have everything going for them sometimes just fall apart and disappear.
In the end I found my trip to the clinic to be a great learning experience, though I do hope to never have to go to one ever again for as long as I live. The biggest thought that I came out with is that the difference between the person behind the desk and the person in front of the desk, the counselor and the counseled, is very small.
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