Vision for Hope
Serenity Lane provides a live-in treatment facility to help participants with long term recovery
Medical Matters, Lane County Medical Society
“One thing I always try to explain to the patient is: you are not a number; you’re not a statistic,” says Nurse Practitioner Lindsay Maghan. She is one of the first people patients meet when they check into Serenity Lane. Maghan greets them when they check into detox, and conducts the history and physical. “What we know about addiction is that the more you put into your recovery, your chances for relapse prevention are even greater.”
Serenity Lane, a not-for-profit treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction, boasts a unique methodology, pillared by education, intervention, and innovative treatments. While the statistics available on addiction and relapse are perilously unreliable, Maghan speaks from the perspective of personal experience. “I’m actually an alumni,” says Maghan. Just over eight years ago Maghan was a patient herself. “That experience prompted me to later decide that I needed to work in addiction, and give back what was given to me.”
“I had a lot of guilt and shame. I didn’t really know how I was going to recover from my addiction,” Maghan says. “The first time I sat down with the physician who treated me was the first time I really had a sense of hope that I could recover.”
Remarkably, the physician who treated Maghan was in recovery. While generational care is not an explicit part of Serenity Lane’s treatment practices, attention to the individual is what makes the treatment center singular. Each recovery program is designed around the person it is intended to help.
Serenity Lane’s medically assisted withdrawal and detox services prioritize the patient’s comfort when they first enroll. The program is headed by Dr. Eric Geisler, who is board certified in addiction medicine. “I’ve lead the organization in increasing the use of medication-assisted treatment,” says Geisler. “Including buprenorphine as stabilizer in acute opiate withdrawal and for chronic pain.”
Once out of detox, the patient is transferred to residential care. The center offers a variety of specialty groups beyond the standard group therapy model, from a health care professional program, to a coping with trauma group, and anger management. Recurring family weekends add another element to the holistic treatment approach. “We emphasize family education because it’s a family disease. It rarely only affects the individual,” says Maghan. “We try to address the specific areas people have struggled with in their lives, and use substances to self-medicate for.”
She and Geisler regularly appear in groups as guest lecturers. They focus on environmental factors, genetics, and other driving forces of addiction that are out of a patient’s control. “The purpose of a lecture is to convince attendees that addiction is a disease,” says Geisler. “I strive to convince people that it’s a chronic, progressive, relapsing and potentially fatal disease of the brain.”
The center has plans to expand these tailored programs with the development of a tobacco cessation program headed by Maghan. She notes that it’s typical for patients to have poly-substance use. “We’re trying to work on, not just the substance abuse disorder, but any other addictive behaviors, and really address the person as a whole to work on those areas where they have struggled,” says Maghan.
Counselors look for possible signs of relapse while patients go through the intensive outpatient program, which consists of three-hour group therapy sessions three days a week, with family weekends and specialized groups included. Out patients have a check-in sheet where they evaluate themselves: are they having cravings, how is work going, what activities are they filling their time with, what are their stress levels? These metrics help the counselors “identify anybody that might not otherwise let people know that they’re struggling.”
“If there is a relapse, it doesn’t equal treatment failure. It just means that we need to do something different with the plan of care to get back on track,” says Maghan.
The path through Serenity Lane after the initial detox, involves 28 days of residential in patient care, followed by ten weeks of intensive outpatient program (IOP), then a two-year recovery support plan—the Alumni Program. Patients are encouraged to create their own relapse prevention program where they address potential triggers and how to mitigate them. “As you watch a patient go through the program—participating and staying motivated—you see that those patients really have a strong foundation before they discharge.”
“Speaking as someone in long-term recovery, I think what you see in people that transition out of IOP is that it’s a way of life. I still attend meetings, and do alumni activities. I still have a network of friends that are sober,” Maghan says. Serenity Lane’s Alumni Services reinforce the sober lifestyle. The social network is maintained through newsletters and community events, like disc golf tournaments and beach clean ups. “There are lots of ways to celebrate being clean and sober.”