- Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) - The light blue emblem is distinct against its black leather surroundings.

A dozen escalating steps refer to the infamous 12 phases that lead one to recovery from addiction.

A wind-swept figure on a motorcycle is riding up the path. A fire embroidered at the bottom of the staircase is representative of “the chaos before,” Rodney Dell says.

At the staircase’s pinnacle, a sun flare - “euphoria,” he says. And heading the symbolic patch on Dell’s motorcycling jacket are words that he says testify to both the miles he has spent on his bike and the miles he has traveled on his journey from addiction to recovery: “The Winds of Change.”

“It’s the patch of our motorcycling group,” Dell tells the Hastings Tribune, referring to a group of nine guys he has been riding with for almost a decade. They go on campouts and excursions and attend 12-step meetings and AA meetings together. They support each other on the journey.

Although recreational, this support group and other networks of community were crucial to Dell’s recovery process. He says having the help of friends and family is essential for anyone entering his or her own journey out of addiction.

Dell shares this message with his clients as the adult drug and alcohol abuse counselor at Horizon Recovery and Counseling Center in Hastings.

“It is so important to have a positive support network,” Dell said. “It’s a process of letting go of the people and activities you used to surround yourself with. You have to redefine ‘fun.’ “

Dell himself has been in recovery for 30 years now, and he said his personal growth in the recovery process fueled his desire to give back to others. Now, he does that daily as he takes people through a process that parallels the journey indicated on his slick, black biker jacket - one step at a time.

“I look at treatment as a holistic approach - it’s a whole-life treatment,” Dell said. “Stress management, nutrition, assertiveness training, listening skills … those all play a part. They are all steps.”

Horizon, a rehabilitation center for teens and adults, focuses on spiritually based programs and holistic recovery from drug and alcohol addiction through both outpatient support programs and sober living houses.

Dell leads intensive outpatient programs through Horizon where clients meet for both individual and group therapy sessions. Clients also are encouraged to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings on their own.

In group, Dell says, he conducts role plays, challenging the participants to be realistic, but also not do things the way they’ve done them in the past.

“That’s the goal for everybody - to help them make their life better by doing different things. In recovery circles, we are taught to change people, places and playthings. So you have to reconstruct a lot of your old habits,” Dell said.

The most rewarding part of the job is when he sees people catch on and become willing to try a new way of life. When they feel a sense of drive and personal empowerment. When they feel the winds of change. Having the encouragement of group therapy often is a catalyst for that process.

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