- 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.

“In group, I tell them ‘these people in your group are your best supports because they’re at the same spot in the road, trying to figure out how to do something different and not keep making the same mistakes.’ They help each other,” he said.

Horizon Recovery and Counseling Center was established in 2001 but is in its sixth year of being owned by Revive Inc., an organization that helps raise funds and advocates for the program to community groups and grant organizations.

Dan Rutt, director of Revive, says Horizon provided counseling services to about 400 individuals in 2013 - both adults and juveniles.

Horizon also has three sober living facilities that house 80-100 people annually.

“Our vision is to offer an environment where our clients become curious about how we serve others, which is rooted in our Christian values. We have a heart for helping people,” Rutt said.

“Guys like Rod don’t work a typically 40-hour week. It’s a lot more than that. It’s to help people.”

And Rutt agrees that community support is the key to success for clients going through therapy.

“Our people need friends. I think that’s 95 percent of life, anyway. It’s all about relationships. If you have good relationships with people, you tend to do well. So we need healthy people connecting with our unhealthy people,” Rutt said.

Dell says that although drug and alcohol problems are pervasive, change is possible. He knows because change is evident in his own life. Like his motorcycling jacket indicates, change begins with a personal fire and builds momentum, escalating the 12 steps to new-ness, with the help of the burgeoning wind of community.

“For the world to see a difference, things have to be much more proactive. We need to be looking at the root a problem. People need to learn to be better parents, better neighbors. That’s what’s going to make a difference,” Dell said.


Information from: Hastings Tribune, https://www.hastingstribune.com

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