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TODAY news for Thursday, March 26, 2007

Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center news

Graduates of chemical dependency program celebrate recovery

After receiving her certificate, a former patient hugs staff member Jeff Alleva, CADC II. Standing on either side of Mr. Alleva are (from left) fellow staff memers Dan Clark, CADC; Elaine Coyazo; and Jackie Christiansen, CADC II.
After receiving her certificate, a former patient hugs staff member Jeff Alleva, CADC II. Standing on either side of Mr. Alleva are (from left) fellow staff memers Dan Clark, CADC; Elaine Coyazo; and Jackie Christiansen, CADC II.
Nearly 50 recovering addicts graduated March 4 in a ceremony celebrating their completion of treatment through chemical dependency services at the Behavioral Medicine Center (BMC).

Their stories demonstrate that it is possible to become and stay sober.

“I didn’t think I could make it an hour, and I’ve got six months and a day today,” said one of two graduates who spoke during the ceremony.

She explained that her counselors empowered her to choose between death and life.

“I didn’t want to die with a needle in my arm or a bottle in my hand,” she said.

All of the graduates are patients who completed the program during 2006. In total, 160 patients finished last year, and 45 attended the graduation.

During their treatment, patients work closely with staff members such as counselors and nurses. At graduation, the staff appreciates being able to see the patients again, says Andrew Wildasinn, CADC, clinical coordinator of BMC’s chemical dependency services.

“We see these men and women come in here, and they’re pretty torn up,” Mr. Wildasinn says. “It’s just really cool to see them get better.”

During the ceremony, Don Kurth, MD, BMC’s chief of addiction medicine, shared with the graduates a lesson he learned from his own Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor years ago.

“Getting sober, and not getting involved in service, is like winning the lottery and not cashing in the check,” the sponsor told him.

The graduation service also included the recognition of two former patients who are now volunteers for chemical dependency services. Robert C. and Robert O. have been volunteering for at least eight years, says Mr. Wildasinn.

By Heather Reifsnyder

TODAY news for Thursday, March 26, 2007