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  • Caleb's Story

    Caleb's Story I started using when I was 15. I was using marijuana and alcohol. From the get go, I realized that I wasn’t using like everyone around me. I sued a lot more of it and a lot more frequently. My parents sort of became aware of it, and I went to treatment at 16 in Great Falls. I was sober for about six months and didn’t accept that I was an addict. I relapsed really hard for nine years, was just partying as much as I could. I started using other drugs. I partied hard from 16 through 25 and life was going nowhere fast. ​ So I went back to treatment in Portland at 25 and was sober for eight months. I was miserable in my sobriety, just white-knuckling it. So I moved back to Missoula and started using again. My family just kind of put up with it. A lot of times I was working on my own working multiple jobs. I was highly functional. My family knew about it but I was living on my own and there wasn’t anything they could do. My parents are still together. They’ve been married 35 years. My family is full of addicts. ​ I was in the hospital and was detoxing from alcohol. I don’t know what actually caused it but I lost control of my extremities. My fist was so tight, my thumb was turning black. I was shaking. I think I had a panic attack or something. Losing control of my limbs was my rock bottom. I wanted a different, better life and so I decided I would take treatment more seriously this time. ​ I was using and drinking a lot and ending up in the hospital detoxing and just dying literally. So the state intervened and I had a case manager/social worker. They introduced me to my therapist who encouraged me to go to treatment at Recovery Center Missoula. I just ended up here in Feb. of 2017 through March of 2017. As soon as I finished up treatment, I moved into Hands of Hope with George and started working the program and attending meetings. I got a job. I got a sponsor. I got my year clean and now I’m working here. Yeah, George is my boss and my landlord. ​ But what I think is more important is that I worked the program after treatment. I go to meetings, got a sponsor, worked the steps. I definitely credit RCM and Western because they got me the foundation. Now my whole life is recovery basically. My old friends weren’t really my friends. I don’t talk to them. They were just there when I had drugs or money or alcohol. I think I kept one, lifelong friend. All of my friends now are in the program. I have a couple of normy friends who I still talk to. I don’t have time or space for using friends anymore. I was afraid I wouldn’t have fun again when I was in treatment. One of my own beliefs before I was in treatment was that you’re in charge of your own fun at all times. If you’re not having fun, it’s probably your own fault. So I still have lots of fun. I go to movies, I hike, and I go out to coffee. I plan on camping and floating this summer. I still have a lot of fun in recovery. I’m open to hang out with anyone as long as they’re not using around me. I just mostly stick with NA people. They relate to me on such a deep level. We have so much in common and can talk about anything. I can go to a meeting and meet new people, but I have a core group of friends that I hang out with and they’re my everything, except for my family. ​ I did a lot of damage but I’m working a program and I’m no longer doing the damage. I have a sister in Seattle. She’s a normy as far as I can tell and she goes to adult children of alcoholics so she’s working a program too. I have two nephews. One is five and one is two. I worry about them, but they’re too young to know if they’ve got the bug. ​ I didn’t have any signals before I started using but the second I started using, I knew I was definitely a drug addict. I’m not one of those people that was super in denial. I knew people while in treatment who were in denial. As soon as I started using I knew I had to have this more, constantly, all the time. My family is Southern and my dad is retired Army and my mom is retired children’s pastor so pretty strict upbringing. It was pretty adamant to say no to drugs until, you know, I didn’t. I had friends using in middle school and I was very upset with that until my freshman year in high school. I was just curious. Everyone else was doing it. I was tired of being seen as the goody goody. I was also coming out of the closet at the time as a gay person. I noticed that the kids who party were a little more accepting. I thought I’d go hang out with them because they’d protect me. I was bullied a lot. ​ My parents found out when I was 16 that I was gay and my mom and I are really close. She told me she’d known since she was 2. My dad was a little shocked but he came around and they’re really supportive. If I have a boyfriend, I bring him home for dinner. ​ I’ve learned so much in recovery. I’m 28 now. I work nights so my days are kind of crazy. On days I’m not working, I usually hit a meeting. I go to 2-3 a week. I talk to my sponsor several times a week. I do step work using the guide and answer the questions. It varies by whether you’re on NA or AA. I’m going nice and slow. I have friends that are farther along but I’m going slow. They’re all pretty daunting. That’s how you create a new life for yourself by going to meetings. You can stay clean and create a new life for yourself by working the steps. We thought we found something in drugs, but it’s actually in the step work. That’s how you create a new life. ​ I would like to eventually go back to school as a therapist or social worker or something like that. The blind leading the blind. My therapist says the man with one eye is king of the land of the blind. I have a little bit of insight. Working here has been life changing. George is the best. George is like a father-figure to me. I call him Uncle George sometimes. If he’s thinking it, he’s saying it. It’s great. < Previous Story Next Story>

  • WMMHC- Libby

    Lincoln County - Libby < Prev Next > WMMHC- Libby 34169 US-2, Libby, MT 59923, USA Call: (406) 293-8746 Email: administration@wmmhc.org

  • Kari Auclair, MS | WMMHC

    Kari Auclair, MS Director, PACT/MACT, PATH, Residential Group Homes mailto:kauclair@wmmhc.org ​

  • Prevention Specialists | Western Montana Mental Health | Montana

    Prevention Specialists Prevention specialists work with communities to reduce youth substance use or misuse through education on risk and protective factors that affect youth development and through the planning, implementing, and evaluating policies and programs that promote protective factors and reduce risk factors. Everything is done to encourage our youth's health and well-being and provide them with opportunities for success. ​ To request a presentation or to learn more about prevention services in your area, contact a Prevention Specialists in your County. Learn About Prevention Services Prevention Toolkits

  • TBD | WMMHC

    TBD Director, Human Resources ​

  • Release of Information-SUD | WMMHC

    Release of Information-SUD Please complete the electronic form below. All fields marked ( * ) are required fields. All information submitted on our website is private and confidential. Your treatment experience is strictly private and confidential, protected by federal and state law. If you need assistance in filling out our intake paperwork call 406-541-0024 ​ To complete the application by hand: Please call 406-541-0024 to request a paper form be mailed to you. You may also download this form , scan and return by Email: referrals@wmmhc.org or Mail to: Western Montana Mental Health Center 1321 Wyoming St, Missoula, MT 59801 Please wait while we load your form

  • Mental Health Conditions | WMMHC

    Adults Living with a Mental Health Condition in Montana Western Montana Mental Health Center is an integrated community-based mental health center offering a comprehensive range of services to adults living with mental health conditions in Montana. Adult Mental Health Application Mental Health Conditions Can Be Managed ​ Common mental health conditions include: Anxiety spectrum disorders. These include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Bipolar Disorder Borderline Personality Disorder Depression Schizophrenia ​ Western Montana Mental Health Center's personalized therapeutic treatment programs include an in-depth assessment, inpatient crisis stabilization, individual therapy, group therapy, residential housing, jail diversion, psychiatric/medication management, school-based programs and peer support services. Our programs are designed to help manage mental health conditions and overcome the lack of direction that may accompany it. Get the help you deserve. Request a free confidential callback within 1 business day. Get Help Now If you are having a medical emergency call 911. If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call 988. Adult Treatment Services Mission, Vision, and Values Our Mission: To build thriving communities through compassionate, whole-person, expert care. Our Vision: We are the premiere community provider, employer and partner in comprehensive behavioral health services. Our Values: Empathy. Integrity. Respect. Growth About Since we opened our doors in 1971, we have been driven by the unwavering goal of providing behavioral healthcare that meets the needs of the people we serve throughout Western Montana. We’ve stayed true to our commitment to providing person-centered and evidence-based care in community settings. We’ve remained dedicated to doing what is right, not what is easy or profitable. We have fulfilled our unique role – as a licensed community-based mental health center – to be Western Montana’s behavioral healthcare “safety net." We tirelessly advocate for the rights of individuals to have access to integrated services that help people overcome despair and choose hope. The only thing that has changed since our inception almost 50 years ago is how much we’ve grown. From service delivery provided in 5 counties by 20 staff, we now have almost 800 employees serving over 15,000 clients in 15 counties. We have a much more comprehensive offering of services, with 25 programs to meet the needs of people across the continuum of age and need. And, since 2016, we now have the capability of providing services using telemedicine technology, meaning better access for clients and more effective use of scarce resources. All clinical services are reviewed and licensed annually by the State of Montana. Special grants are available to offset the cost of services for consumers who are financially eligible. Services are billed to Insurance, Medicaid, Grants, and self. Governance Western Montana Mental Health Center operates as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, public purpose corporation (501)(c)(3). The Board of Directors meets monthly to assure effective governance and administration of all Center interests. The public is invited to attend meetings. Participating counties include: Flathead, Sanders, Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, Granite, Powell, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Gallatin, Madison and Park. History Originally, the State Department of Institutions funded and administered five community mental health clinics in the state. One of the clinics was located in Missoula and was housed in the basement of the Student Health Center at the University of Montana. This clinic, with a staff of six, was responsible for serving the counties of Western Montana. Services were almost exclusively outpatient and, due to the limited staff, outreach efforts throughout the Region were very minimal. The expectation was that clients would commute to Missoula where services would be provided within the clinic. There are old records suggesting that the clinic opened in 1942. Employees of this clinic were all staff members of the State of Montana and they answered directly to the superintendent of the Warm Springs State Hospital. There was considerable isolation of the staff as direct contact with the State Hospital was minimal. Federal Involvement Montana's interest in the development of comprehensive community mental health centers was sparked by the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health that was established by Congress under the Mental Health Study Act of 1955. Montana received funds to study its mental health needs and resources, and for a five-year period, effort was devoted towards the development of a plan which would provide effective services to the residents of Montana. With the passage of federal staffing and construction grant programs by Congress in 1963, the Montana State legislature passed complementary bills which enabled the State to become a responsible partner with the federal government in the establishment of regional mental health centers. Five mental health regions were established within the state and Boards, comprised of a county commissioner from each county within the Region, designated as the authority for governance of the community-based mental health programs. On July 15, 1969, the Western Montana Regional Community Mental Health Center Board submitted to the National Institute of Mental Health an application requesting federal staffing grant funds under the provision of Public Law 89-105. The program was approved on September 1, 1969. Western initiated services on January 1, 1971, utilizing local, state, and federal funds. Offices were opened in Ravalli, Lake, Sanders, Flathead and Lincoln Counties, in addition to the existing Missoula-based outpatient office. The original (1971) staff numbered 20 including: 11 clinicians; 7 clerical workers; a business manager, and regional director. Billing and Financial Services For information on treatment costs, insurance, resources if you are uninsured, and payment options, click here. How do you know if you or someone you care about has a mental health condition? Contact us to for a free confidential assessment. Our team will contact you within 1 business day to discuss the issues you or your loved one are experiencing and how Western Montana Mental Health Center can help. Get Help Now Mental Health Facts 1 in 5 1 Americans live with a serious mental health condition or long-term recurring major depression 1 in 25 2 Americans experience some form of mental illness in any given year Recovery is not only possible, it is essential. Get the help you deserve. Mental Health Application Insurance & Payment What to Expect Get Help Now All information submitted is 100% confidential. 1. Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml#part_15478 2. Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml#part_154788 ​ Adult Day Treatment | Adult Group Homes | Crisis Stabilization Facility | Client Housing | Drop-In Center | Emergency Services | Jail Diversion | Outpatient Therapy | Peer Support Program Of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) | Psychiatric/Medication Management Services | Vocational Services ​ ​

  • Mental Health Conditions | WMMHC

    Children & Adolescents Western Montana Mental Health Center (WMMHC) offers comprehensive services to children and adolescents living with substance abuse or mental health conditions in Montana. WMMHC offers school-based programs, prevention services, and comprehensive school and community treatment programs in multiple public school districts. Children & Adolescents Application All information submitted is 100% confidential. WMMHC Prevention Services was developed to teach Montana's youth skills for resisting social influences, impacting drug-related attitudes and norms, and promoting personal management skills. Together, we are making a difference in the lives of youth throughout Montana. ​ Learn More Get the help you deserve. Request a free confidential callback within 1 business day. Get Help Now If you are having a medical emergency call 911. If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call 988. Child & Adolescent Substance Use Treatment Services Mission, Vision, and Values Our Mission: To build thriving communities through compassionate, whole-person, expert care. Our Vision: We are the premiere community provider, employer and partner in comprehensive behavioral health services. Our Values: Empathy. Integrity. Respect. Growth About Since we opened our doors in 1971, we have been driven by the unwavering goal of providing behavioral healthcare that meets the needs of the people we serve throughout Western Montana. We’ve stayed true to our commitment to providing person-centered and evidence-based care in community settings. We’ve remained dedicated to doing what is right, not what is easy or profitable. We have fulfilled our unique role – as a licensed community-based mental health center – to be Western Montana’s behavioral healthcare “safety net." We tirelessly advocate for the rights of individuals to have access to integrated services that help people overcome despair and choose hope. The only thing that has changed since our inception almost 50 years ago is how much we’ve grown. From service delivery provided in 5 counties by 20 staff, we now have almost 800 employees serving over 15,000 clients in 15 counties. We have a much more comprehensive offering of services, with 25 programs to meet the needs of people across the continuum of age and need. And, since 2016, we now have the capability of providing services using telemedicine technology, meaning better access for clients and more effective use of scarce resources. All clinical services are reviewed and licensed annually by the State of Montana. Special grants are available to offset the cost of services for consumers who are financially eligible. Services are billed to Insurance, Medicaid, Grants, and self. Governance Western Montana Mental Health Center operates as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, public purpose corporation (501)(c)(3). The Board of Directors meets monthly to assure effective governance and administration of all Center interests. The public is invited to attend meetings. Participating counties include: Flathead, Sanders, Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, Granite, Powell, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Gallatin, Madison and Park. History Originally, the State Department of Institutions funded and administered five community mental health clinics in the state. One of the clinics was located in Missoula and was housed in the basement of the Student Health Center at the University of Montana. This clinic, with a staff of six, was responsible for serving the counties of Western Montana. Services were almost exclusively outpatient and, due to the limited staff, outreach efforts throughout the Region were very minimal. The expectation was that clients would commute to Missoula where services would be provided within the clinic. There are old records suggesting that the clinic opened in 1942. Employees of this clinic were all staff members of the State of Montana and they answered directly to the superintendent of the Warm Springs State Hospital. There was considerable isolation of the staff as direct contact with the State Hospital was minimal. Federal Involvement Montana's interest in the development of comprehensive community mental health centers was sparked by the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health that was established by Congress under the Mental Health Study Act of 1955. Montana received funds to study its mental health needs and resources, and for a five-year period, effort was devoted towards the development of a plan which would provide effective services to the residents of Montana. With the passage of federal staffing and construction grant programs by Congress in 1963, the Montana State legislature passed complementary bills which enabled the State to become a responsible partner with the federal government in the establishment of regional mental health centers. Five mental health regions were established within the state and Boards, comprised of a county commissioner from each county within the Region, designated as the authority for governance of the community-based mental health programs. On July 15, 1969, the Western Montana Regional Community Mental Health Center Board submitted to the National Institute of Mental Health an application requesting federal staffing grant funds under the provision of Public Law 89-105. The program was approved on September 1, 1969. Western initiated services on January 1, 1971, utilizing local, state, and federal funds. Offices were opened in Ravalli, Lake, Sanders, Flathead and Lincoln Counties, in addition to the existing Missoula-based outpatient office. The original (1971) staff numbered 20 including: 11 clinicians; 7 clerical workers; a business manager, and regional director. Billing and Financial Services For information on treatment costs, insurance, resources if you are uninsured, and payment options, click here. Child & Adolescent Mental Heatlh Treatment Services Mission, Vision, and Values Our Mission: To build thriving communities through compassionate, whole-person, expert care. Our Vision: We are the premiere community provider, employer and partner in comprehensive behavioral health services. Our Values: Empathy. Integrity. Respect. Growth About Since we opened our doors in 1971, we have been driven by the unwavering goal of providing behavioral healthcare that meets the needs of the people we serve throughout Western Montana. We’ve stayed true to our commitment to providing person-centered and evidence-based care in community settings. We’ve remained dedicated to doing what is right, not what is easy or profitable. We have fulfilled our unique role – as a licensed community-based mental health center – to be Western Montana’s behavioral healthcare “safety net." We tirelessly advocate for the rights of individuals to have access to integrated services that help people overcome despair and choose hope. The only thing that has changed since our inception almost 50 years ago is how much we’ve grown. From service delivery provided in 5 counties by 20 staff, we now have almost 800 employees serving over 15,000 clients in 15 counties. We have a much more comprehensive offering of services, with 25 programs to meet the needs of people across the continuum of age and need. And, since 2016, we now have the capability of providing services using telemedicine technology, meaning better access for clients and more effective use of scarce resources. All clinical services are reviewed and licensed annually by the State of Montana. Special grants are available to offset the cost of services for consumers who are financially eligible. Services are billed to Insurance, Medicaid, Grants, and self. Governance Western Montana Mental Health Center operates as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, public purpose corporation (501)(c)(3). The Board of Directors meets monthly to assure effective governance and administration of all Center interests. The public is invited to attend meetings. Participating counties include: Flathead, Sanders, Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, Granite, Powell, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Gallatin, Madison and Park. History Originally, the State Department of Institutions funded and administered five community mental health clinics in the state. One of the clinics was located in Missoula and was housed in the basement of the Student Health Center at the University of Montana. This clinic, with a staff of six, was responsible for serving the counties of Western Montana. Services were almost exclusively outpatient and, due to the limited staff, outreach efforts throughout the Region were very minimal. The expectation was that clients would commute to Missoula where services would be provided within the clinic. There are old records suggesting that the clinic opened in 1942. Employees of this clinic were all staff members of the State of Montana and they answered directly to the superintendent of the Warm Springs State Hospital. There was considerable isolation of the staff as direct contact with the State Hospital was minimal. Federal Involvement Montana's interest in the development of comprehensive community mental health centers was sparked by the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health that was established by Congress under the Mental Health Study Act of 1955. Montana received funds to study its mental health needs and resources, and for a five-year period, effort was devoted towards the development of a plan which would provide effective services to the residents of Montana. With the passage of federal staffing and construction grant programs by Congress in 1963, the Montana State legislature passed complementary bills which enabled the State to become a responsible partner with the federal government in the establishment of regional mental health centers. Five mental health regions were established within the state and Boards, comprised of a county commissioner from each county within the Region, designated as the authority for governance of the community-based mental health programs. On July 15, 1969, the Western Montana Regional Community Mental Health Center Board submitted to the National Institute of Mental Health an application requesting federal staffing grant funds under the provision of Public Law 89-105. The program was approved on September 1, 1969. Western initiated services on January 1, 1971, utilizing local, state, and federal funds. Offices were opened in Ravalli, Lake, Sanders, Flathead and Lincoln Counties, in addition to the existing Missoula-based outpatient office. The original (1971) staff numbered 20 including: 11 clinicians; 7 clerical workers; a business manager, and regional director. Billing and Financial Services For information on treatment costs, insurance, resources if you are uninsured, and payment options, click here. Mission, Vision, and Values Our Mission: To build thriving communities through compassionate, whole-person, expert care. Our Vision: We are the premiere community provider, employer and partner in comprehensive behavioral health services. Our Values: Empathy. Integrity. Respect. Growth About Since we opened our doors in 1971, we have been driven by the unwavering goal of providing behavioral healthcare that meets the needs of the people we serve throughout Western Montana. We’ve stayed true to our commitment to providing person-centered and evidence-based care in community settings. We’ve remained dedicated to doing what is right, not what is easy or profitable. We have fulfilled our unique role – as a licensed community-based mental health center – to be Western Montana’s behavioral healthcare “safety net." We tirelessly advocate for the rights of individuals to have access to integrated services that help people overcome despair and choose hope. The only thing that has changed since our inception almost 50 years ago is how much we’ve grown. From service delivery provided in 5 counties by 20 staff, we now have almost 800 employees serving over 15,000 clients in 15 counties. We have a much more comprehensive offering of services, with 25 programs to meet the needs of people across the continuum of age and need. And, since 2016, we now have the capability of providing services using telemedicine technology, meaning better access for clients and more effective use of scarce resources. All clinical services are reviewed and licensed annually by the State of Montana. Special grants are available to offset the cost of services for consumers who are financially eligible. Services are billed to Insurance, Medicaid, Grants, and self. Governance Western Montana Mental Health Center operates as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, public purpose corporation (501)(c)(3). The Board of Directors meets monthly to assure effective governance and administration of all Center interests. The public is invited to attend meetings. Participating counties include: Flathead, Sanders, Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, Granite, Powell, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Gallatin, Madison and Park. History Originally, the State Department of Institutions funded and administered five community mental health clinics in the state. One of the clinics was located in Missoula and was housed in the basement of the Student Health Center at the University of Montana. This clinic, with a staff of six, was responsible for serving the counties of Western Montana. Services were almost exclusively outpatient and, due to the limited staff, outreach efforts throughout the Region were very minimal. The expectation was that clients would commute to Missoula where services would be provided within the clinic. There are old records suggesting that the clinic opened in 1942. Employees of this clinic were all staff members of the State of Montana and they answered directly to the superintendent of the Warm Springs State Hospital. There was considerable isolation of the staff as direct contact with the State Hospital was minimal. Federal Involvement Montana's interest in the development of comprehensive community mental health centers was sparked by the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health that was established by Congress under the Mental Health Study Act of 1955. Montana received funds to study its mental health needs and resources, and for a five-year period, effort was devoted towards the development of a plan which would provide effective services to the residents of Montana. With the passage of federal staffing and construction grant programs by Congress in 1963, the Montana State legislature passed complementary bills which enabled the State to become a responsible partner with the federal government in the establishment of regional mental health centers. Five mental health regions were established within the state and Boards, comprised of a county commissioner from each county within the Region, designated as the authority for governance of the community-based mental health programs. On July 15, 1969, the Western Montana Regional Community Mental Health Center Board submitted to the National Institute of Mental Health an application requesting federal staffing grant funds under the provision of Public Law 89-105. The program was approved on September 1, 1969. Western initiated services on January 1, 1971, utilizing local, state, and federal funds. Offices were opened in Ravalli, Lake, Sanders, Flathead and Lincoln Counties, in addition to the existing Missoula-based outpatient office. The original (1971) staff numbered 20 including: 11 clinicians; 7 clerical workers; a business manager, and regional director. Billing and Financial Services For information on treatment costs, insurance, resources if you are uninsured, and payment options, click here. Get the help you deserve. Chidlren Services Application Insurance & Payment What to Expect Get Help Now All information submitted is 100% confidential. ​ Comprehensive School and Community Treatment | Home Support Services | Individual and Family Counseling | Psychiatric/ Medication Services ​ Outpatient Programs | Community Prevention Services ​ ​

  • WMMHC- Anaconda

    Deer Lodge County - Anaconda < Prev Next > WMMHC- Anaconda 307 E Park Street Suite 211 Anaconda, MT 59711, USA Call: (406) 563-3413 Fax: (406) 563-7463 Email: administration@wmmhc.org

  • WMMHC- Thompson Falls

    Sanders County - Thompson Falls, Plains < Prev Next > WMMHC- Thompson Falls 602 Preston Ave, Thompson Falls, MT 59873, USA Call: (406) 532-9190 Fax: (406) 206-5133 Email: administration@wmmhc.org

  • George's Story

    George's Story I got all three of the standards as far as genetically: it’s in my ancestry, situational, and environmental. I was conceived at a kegger in 1968 by two 17-year-old kids. I was adopted in the family by my mom and George. We lived above that bar for my first five years. My mom bartended during the day and George bartended in the evening. I spent a lot of time in that bar and I learned to walk and talk and most of my social skills in that bar. I’m drawn to dark bars, and I feel at home next to the old guy in a bar. ​ When I look back, most of the people in my family that I looked up to were alcoholics. My mom didn’t drink, but George who I was named after, kicked us out in a drunken rage when I was six. My grandpa was an alcoholic, my favorite Uncle George, and my Uncle Matt certainly lives the lifestyle. The first time I realized I was powerless over alcohol was when I was about 10 or 11, and I was given my first glass of wine. It was a Christmas dinner and I drank it fast. I said “whoa” and I wanted another one. So my mom gave me another one and said drink this slower. But I drank that one fast and then snuck some more. For some reason mom made a deal with me that if I ran around the block I could have another glass of wine. I didn’t like running but I ran around the block two or three more times, drank the wine, and then proceeded to go to midnight mass and fall asleep. ​ The second indicator came when I was around 13. I had gone out to my Uncle Sonny’s ranch with Grandpa. When bedtime came and I was not tired Grandpa talked Sonny into giving me a hot whiskey to help me sleep. After drinking it I went directly to bed. Suddenly I was filled with anxiety, nervous legs and warmth. No way I was going to sleep through this. I got up and went to the table where Sonny and Grandpa were visiting and said “That one didn’t work, can I have another?” Grandpa chuckled, looked at Sonny and said “Looks like we have another one in the family” ​ Those were signals that I see now that I didn’t see then. As I went through life, I was filled with adventure and I wanted to learn stuff. There was a neighbor across the street who was a retired industrial arts teacher and he was teaching me how to build canoes, and weave cane, and how to turn wood on a lathe. That came to an end when I was a freshman in high school and they showed me an anti-marijuana movie in school. I went out after school that day to find pot, because I saw those kids in the movie and I said, “That’s what I want!” I didn’t need a pusher; I went out and found it! So after that I lost my ambition. I became a daily pothead. I hung out in the alley next to the school with all the other stoners, but we thought we were the cool kids. Now when I talk to the other kids from school, I didn’t know that they referred to me as a wastoid and a stoner, because we were the cool kids! They were the squares! I was the live-right-now guy. Through high school I was a blackout drinker. I could see no other way to do it. All in or none at all. ​ I went down to Tahoe to be a ski bum. I ended up at Kirkwood from 1982 to 1992 and I would still be there if I weren’t an alcoholic/addict. I went there and told them I’d take any job they had with housing so they made me a janitor. I enjoyed skiing and also enjoyed the party life there. I think the 3rd year there I ended up going to a free cocaine counseling. It was the 80s so most of the places had that. I didn’t get much out of the course. I was having trouble with cocaine. Not that I liked it. I don’t know why I was using it – you could drink more I guess – and it was cool. Cocaine was one of those drugs that was designed for people like me because it’s one of those drugs that if you do a little bit, you have to keep doing it until you’re broke or your nose is bleeding. I worked my way up from day janitor to the road snow removal crew. At 27 or 28, I was running the crew and had people under me. It was a heavy job but it was working until I started drinking on the job and I found meth and started doing a lot of meth at work because you could work 20-30 hours at a time. The last year I was there, I really didn’t do anything bad. I totaled more than a few cars with the snow blower, but there was six feet of snow so you can’t even see the cars. Then I came back to Montana and brought the meth with me. ​ Lewistown is a small town and my sister married the fire chief and when your sister marries the fire chief, you get to know all the firemen and police. The chief of police was friends with me, and we used to prairie dog hunt. He took me aside one day and said, “George, you’re on our list. You’re an embarrassment to this town and your family. You can either change, you can leave, or I’ll send you to Deer Lodge, and I’ll see that that happens.” I quit hanging out with the meth crowd, but you can still drink and be accepted in Lewistown. ​ I remember once, one of my buddies was upper level AA in Lewistown, MT. He was hauling me to an AA meeting and it was about 1 ½ blocks off Main Street with the AA symbol etched in the big glass doors. And two big coffee cans on either side of the door heaped with butts and you could tell what it was. We were walking up the stairs and I looked a Rick and said, “You know, it’s kind of embarrassing to be walking into the AA building in the middle of town where everyone can see me.” And he said, “George, last Saturday, I drove by the Glacier at 11:30 in the morning and you were passed out on a park bench in front on Main Street. And this is embarrassing?” That visit to meetings didn’t take though. ​ Then I fell in love with the POs daughter and once you do that, you become a narc without even telling anyone anything, so that helped me break away from that culture and it was a blessing. I don’t know if that was guidance or how that happened. We were married for 12 years and she had a son and a daughter and I helped raise them for 12 years. The whole time we had problems due to drinking. Family services were involved once. I was the father passed out on the couch at 6:00 snoring while the kids were trying to watch TV. I was the guy that got up off the couch and fell into the Christmas tree and the presents. I was the father on the sidelines of the football game yelling profanities at the other team, and I was the guy who wasn’t intimate with my wife anymore. She took it as long as she could and then she did what she had to do to leave me. She was broken and broken-hearted. ​ I fell really hard into the bottle. Of course I got a girlfriend who tried to medicate my depression with marijuana brownies and whiskey. One of my friends called my sister and said, “You better come save your brother, because he’s going to die.” At that point, I was ready to die. I just wanted peace. ​ So my sister and her husband came and they helped me sell everything and I moved in with her. Of course there is no “geographic recovery,” so I carried my disease into her spare bedroom. When my sister asked me to move out I moved in with a couple out on Expressway. Really nice young couple -beautiful people – me and my Boston terrier. They loved us. But then Jason came to me and said, “George, I’m worried about you. I’ve been through two tours in Afghanistan and you’re reminding me of my PTSD buddies who did self-harm and I don’t want to ever have to open that door and find you.” I said, “I’d never do that to you.” They politely asked me to move out as I was creating too much anxiety in their lives. I was working at Partnership at that time and I started to fail there. So I moved out with one of the male nurses who had an ugly porch with just a bed in it and wallpaper ripped and I used to lay in there and drink with my dog, listen to music and feed my depression. I’d pray that I’d die in my sleep and I’d yell at God, “Why do you keep me here? Just to punish me?“ I prayed that I would die every night, that’s where I was in my head. ​ That’s when my higher power started taking control. I had driven up to Mormon peak and decided to drink until I had the courage to take my own life. I actually ran out of alcohol before I was able to complete my mission so I went back to town to get more. When I got back to the house the nurse called some of the other nurses who liked me and Rosemary came and got me. I pretty much committed myself to Providence even though I didn’t realize I was doing it. While there the doctor said there was a new place called the Recovery Center Missoula and it had only been open about 9 months. You want to go there and see? And I said, “Well I don’t got nothing else to do. I think I just got fired!” ​ Here I learned that I was not unique. That they’ve been studying alcoholism and addiction for so many years and they’ve found that people like me have an imbalance of chemicals in their brain and this imbalance is what made us search out those things in the first place. Our brain doesn’t know how to control happiness and sadness and how we produce our endorphins and serotonin and how we stimulate our dopamines. Learning that it wasn’t just because I was weak and I couldn’t just say no, that was interesting. Seeing that I was allergic to drugs and alcohol and that once I began I was not in control of when I would quit. That, and being around like-minded people helped me begin this journey. ​ I didn’t know there were people like this around. I started going to meetings, I started my spiritual health and I started working the steps. I got into step 4 which was figuring out my resentments, who they’re for and what they’re for – and you’re part of it. That was a lot of it, my ex-wife and my family and everyone I had problems with it all turned out that I was the common denominator. ​ Two summers into my recovery, my sister and I were sitting around the fire up at the lake and we were talking about my journey. She was praising me and how grateful she is and then she said, “You know, that last time the sheriff came looking for you, I prayed that you had finally died so you had found peace.” And I looked at her and said, “Your prayers have come true. I did find peace, but I didn’t have to die do it.” When someone you look up to says that they prayed for your death because your life was so toxic, that’s a big one. ​ I have kept a hand on recovery since I left RCM and I’m blessed. I’ve got someone guiding me and it’s serious. I preach a higher power. There is a presence in my life which is pretty damn cool to me. The people in my life are in recovery. I touch recovery every day even before I started working here. The people I go to concerts and games with are all in recovery. The spiritual part of my life is being of service to the world. If you are feeling down and do something kind, you can feed your own spirit. That and stoicism that what isn’t mine, isn’t mine, helps too. ​ You have to get to the point where you choose to die or you choose to live. < Previous Story Next Story>

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