Lifeline Connections, now housed in the multi-million dollar Clark County Center for Community Health, has provided a comprehensive program for substance abuse since 1962. Men and women with chemical dependency and co-occurring disorders are treated here, in Vancouver, Washington, using curriculum that has been reviewed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is listed in their National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.
Accommodations and Food
Lifeline is unlike some treatment facilities in the Northwest that sequester themselves in the woods and promise a program of recovery communing with nature; “retreat” it is not. There is no question that this is treatment—but being plop in the middle of Vancouver, on the VA campus, with Portland 15 minutes away, gives Lifeline the opportunity to offer a diverse group of clients access to a greater recovery community.
Lifeline offers medical detox for up to 16 men and women at a time. Because of the limited number of beds in the unit, potential clients should call ahead to get a spot on the waiting list. Think hospital rooms, hospital food.
Once clients transition to the residential floor, bedrooms are small and there’s not much extra space. The rooms hold two twin beds with matching sheets, a dresser and not much else. All 60 clients share a room and a bathroom with one other person. Clients are provided sheets and linens but are asked to bring their own alarm clock. Got music? Bring it. CD players, mp3s, small radios—anything that plays music without attendant video is allowed at Lifeline. There’s also no written rule against bringing books and magazines. These are perks—ask someone who only had the Big Book to read for a month.
Expect a common area with the prerequisite pool table (and foosball of course) and common lounges for meetings and free time. And fluorescent lighting.
Clients eat prepared meals together in a dining hall with small circular tables. The dining hall looks a lot like the breakfast room of a Days Inn. Lifeline does not advertise a private chef or gourmet meals. Vegetarians will be making due with a salad bar. Lifeline, like most treatment facilities, does not allow clients to bring in food or snacks. Smokers should bring their own cigarettes and chewing tobacco; lighters are not allowed in, but Lifeline provides them.
Treatment and Staff
Lifeline assesses each client and sometimes prescribes medication as needed, including Suboxone. Clients are supervised at all times and are typically in detox for one to five days, depending on their drug of choice and severity of use. When clients are ready, they move into residential living. For the first five days in residential, clients abide by the rules of the “focus phase.” No outside calls and no outside meetings or off-campus activity that might derail the client from centering and getting used to treatment life.
In the residential program, all clients attend group therapy every day, led by licensed professionals and drug and alcohol counselors. The daily schedule varies, but when clients arrive, Lifeline provides them with a detailed map for that week: when they have group, when they have smoke breaks, when they have down time and time to work out. Regular exercise is a part of Lifeline’s program, and primarily exercise means going to the gym. With staff approval clients can leave campus to attend outside 12-step meetings. Some additional groups are recreational and off-campus as well.
This program doesn’t have many standout resources—except the fact that the current (as of this writing) Chief Clinical Officer since 2001, is fluent in ASL and has built up a program around serving the deaf community at Lifeline. Non-English, Spanish speaking clients can be accommodated also. Clients learn about family dynamics in group, but family therapy and family group are not emphasized here. Clients do spend quality time together, but do not live in a home-like environment. Clients learn self-care in group, but specific experiential therapies like music or art or equine therapy aren’t necessarily offered or advertised. Lifeline Connections appears to work well within these limitations.
1601 East Fourth Plain Blvd
Bldg. 17, Ste A212
Vancouver, WA 98661
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