East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, January 05, 2019, WEEKEND EDITION, Page A10, Image 10

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East Oregonian
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Treatment: ‘When you’re ready, you’re ready’
Ashard said she has
recently started poi, a form
of rhythmic dance that
includes swinging tethered
weights. She also said hear-
ing what others have gone
through, as well as sharing
her own story, has helped
“Some days, something
just clicks for you,” she said.
“For me, it’s going to
church, Celebrate Recov-
ery and NA,” Werder said.
He said he has to make sure
he doesn’t hang out with old
friends who use. But the big-
gest motivator is his family.
Werder writes poems,
draws and sends artwork
home to his children, and
talks with them through
video messaging every day.
“I have three kids that are
still alive,” he said. “They’re
six, eight and 10. Being with
them, working, going to
church — I don’t have time
to use.”
Continued from Page A1
Each day, the residents do
some form of group activ-
ity that focuses on cogni-
tive restructuring. That can
include relapse preven-
tion; conflict resolution;
step group, which goes over
the 12 steps of Narcotics
Anonymous and the Accep-
tance Commitment Ther-
apy (ACT) group, which
focuses on cognitive restruc-
turing. Those groups focus
on understanding addiction
and relapse as processes,
and identifying situations
that put them at risk.
They also delve into
their personal histories,
attempting to understand
what brought them to this
point, and working to for-
give themselves and move
One exercise is the
“breakup letter,” in which
residents write a letter say-
ing goodbye to whatever
substances they used.
Adriahna Ashard, a
21-year-old resident at the
women’s house, read two
letters — one to meth and
one to heroin.
“You’ve affected me
since I was born,” she said
in her first letter. Her father
had used the drug, and she
wanted to understand why
he was different when he
took it, which ultimately led
to her using.
Calmly, she said she
didn’t regret what had hap-
pened, because it gave her a
better understanding of her
“Now, we’re fighting this
battle together,” she said. “I
don’t blame you or hate you.
But I no longer need you.”
After these exercises,
other residents offer feed-
back and support.
“What I liked is that you
weren’t mad,” said a resi-
dent after Ashard read her
letter. “That logical response
— you made the decision
that it’s not part of your life
anymore. That makes me
confident in you.”
Many residents said it’s
been helpful to understand
that addiction is not simply a
choice to keep doing drugs,
but has a biological base and
changes the way the brain
“Growing up with my
mom as an addict, people
would say, don’t do drugs,
don’t do drugs,” said one
female resident during a
group session. “But nobody
explained it to me like that.
I wish someone would have
said that to me.”
Starting young
Though each person’s
story of abuse and recovery
is different, many of the res-
idents have faced adversity
that led to drug use.
Amanda Carey, 29, will
graduate at the end of this
week. The mother of two
started using pills in her
early teens, and heroin at
age 18. She got sober at 20,
and stayed that way for five
years, but then relapsed and
quickly started using fen-
tanyl and heroin.
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Residents at the men’s house play a game of horse after a group counseling session at the Power House Treatment Center on
Wednesday outside of Hermiston.
“I think — I had a pretty
rough childhood,” she said.
“I had some childhood trau-
mas, and my parents didn’t
know how to deal with
them or seek help, so I kind
of pushed those traumas
Before arriving at Power
House, she described hitting
her lowest point.
“I had no fear of dying,”
she said. “I was hoping for
it, and I desperately needed
something different.”
She said the peer-led
community here has made it
a more comfortable place for
her to seek treatment.
“The way strong women
in recovery run this place,
we get to be strong women
in recovery,” she said.
Kaden Stice, 25, grew
up in Umatilla, and said he
started using drugs when he
was about 15. He said he had
issues of chronic pain, and
after one trip to the emer-
gency room doctors pre-
scribed him pain medica-
tions, which he soon began
He was 21 years old the
first time he overdosed. He
said he remembers waking
up in the hospital and not
even knowing who his girl-
friend was.
“That OD really (exple-
tive) me up,” he said. “I lost
an entire month I can’t recall.”
Despite several attempts
to quit, health issues and
family tragedies set him
back. But it wasn’t always
monumental events that led
to his relapse.
“One of the guys I grad-
uated with here,” he said,
“I offered to take him and
his girlfriend out to eat, and
they asked me to take them
to pick up some stuff. It
blew me away that that’s all
it took for me to go out and
He is in Power House for
the second time, and is set to
graduate Jan. 22.
“I’m trying to figure out
what I missed last time,” he
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Mallory Weber of St. Helens reads a letter from her mother
during a group counseling session at the Power House
Treatment Center women’s house on Wednesday outside of
said. “I think the key for me
is to always continue doing
the next right thing. If I’m
always doing the right thing,
there’s not really any chance
for me to relapse.”
Jason Werder, a 34-year-
old from Toledo, said this
was his seventh attempt at
getting clean.
“Growing up was real
tough,” he said. “My mom
was a pretty severe drug
addict. She’s clean now, 22
or 23 years.”
Throughout his child-
hood he lived in tents and
trailers, even on mattresses
in the park.
“I started when I was
eight, smoking weed, huff-
ing gas, pills,” he said.
He entered foster care
when he was 14.
“I got to see the struc-
ture of a real family — even
just eating at a table, going
to school. So for four years,
ages 14 to 18, I didn’t do
But then he moved back
to the coast, started using
drugs again, and soon went
to prison. He’s been impris-
oned twice, and in county
jail more than 50 times.
Werder had been clean for
10 months last year, when
two things sent him back.
“My oldest son, who was
14, wrecked a truck and
died,” he said.
Shortly after, he found
out that his father had been
killed. At that time, Werder
was in Power House, but he
was allowed to leave to take
care of his father’s funeral.
When he left, he started
using again. He returned to
Power House in late Decem-
ber, after going to the facili-
ty’s detox center in Otis.
Ripple effect
Despite the childhood
traumas that catalyzed drug
use for many residents, a key
part of treatment is accepting
responsibility and acknowl-
edging that their use can
have a ripple effect on those
around them.
Casey Sanders, the direc-
tor of the women’s house,
said she thinks often about
the way her own addiction
affected her family.
She started using drugs
recreationally in her early
teens, but her addiction
reached its peak a little later.
She had just had a baby
girl, but when her house got
raided, her daughter was
taken, and Sanders’ mother
ended up adopting the baby.
Through the next few years
she was in and out of jail and
her children ended up living
with her sister. She said she
went to treatment and was
clean for a while, and got her
children back. But it took
several attempts, and losing
her kids a few times.
Throughout her addic-
tion, she said her family tried
to help.
“My sister reached out to
me that day, and asked if she
could help me get away from
where I was.”
Sanders teared up.
“She just wanted to help
me. She was super sad.”
It took a while longer for
Sanders to accept that help,
but she finally did.
“Now, five and a half
years later, life is pretty
amazing,” she said. “My
kids are recovering. It’s not
just us that recover — it’s
our families too.”
Though many of the res-
idents are optimistic about
recovery, the work doesn’t
stop once they leave Power
“It’s always ‘recovering,’
said Pearla Peña, a recov-
ering addict and women’s
house counselor. “It’s a life-
long process. Here, we don’t
even cover the basics of how
to live a recovery life. Three
months is not enough.”
Instead, she said, the cen-
ter focuses on the immediate
aftermath of getting clean,
cognitive restructuring and
healing — as well as con-
necting them with outpa-
tient facilities or sober living
houses when they leave.
The right path
As they go through treat-
ment, each resident learns
about what coping mecha-
nisms and techniques work
for them.
“We have a lot of free
time here,” said Men’s
House director Caryn Dunn.
“It helps them learn how to
cope with being bored, and
trying to figure out things to
do other than getting high.”
Some find it helpful to do
art, listen to music or focus
on specific programs in
The other
side of the table
Most of the counselors at
Power House are on a path
residents hope to follow —
recovering addicts who are
now helping others with
their treatment.
“It’s really hard to go to
treatment with counselors
who have never done drugs,”
said Werder. “They’ve gone
to school, have a degree in
it, but they never truly know
what you went through.”
Peña said it’s been a great
feeling to help others with
the struggles she had.
“The way I was treated
(in recovery) — that’s the
way I treat my clients.”
court-ordered to treatment,
and some are referred by
programs like Community
Corrections or the Depart-
ment of Human Services.
Jim Meyers, assistant
director of Umatilla County
said a few years ago the
county did the “New Life”
program, where every-
one released from custody
had to go to inpatient treat-
ment. They had Portland
State University review the
“We found that it was
largely ineffective for those
who didn’t want to go, but
were required to,” he said.
“But it was very effective for
people who did ask to go.”
Dunn said people do
relapse, but with some, the
time that they’re back in
addiction before seeking
help again gets shorter —
someone may go from using
again for six months, down
to three, and then down to 30
days before they seek help
“That means there’s prog-
ress being made,” Dunn said.
Residents said there is
no formula for recovery, but
rather a personal reckoning
that makes them decide that
they want to stay clean.
“I think a lot of it has to do
with if you’ve been through
enough pain,” Sanders said.
“I don’t think there’s a key.
When you’re ready, you’re
Bill: ‘We’re real conscientious about what we leave on’
Continued from Page A1
the bill from Pacific Power,
but this past December the
bill shows that rocketed to
1,102 kilowatts. The bill
also shows both periods had
the same daily average tem-
perature of 37. Even with his
19-year-old son staying part
of the month, he said, there
is no way he was using that
much electricity.
“It’s not that we’re get-
ting billed higher for what
we’re using, we’re getting
billed for what where not
using,” Peterson said.
He expressed his frustra-
tion with the matter on Face-
book, explaining he turned
off everything except his
refrigerator and water heater,
yet “as I’m walking by my
power meter I look and it’s
spinning like a damn top.”
Peterson’s post energized
numerous locals to report
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Pacific Power customer Seth Peterson holds his bill showing
nearly a doubling of his power consumption this winter over
the same period last year.
they were facing the same
Braxton Warner posted
images of his bill showing
he used 1,863 kilowatts in
December 2017 and 3,187
kilowatts this past Decem-
ber, and again both months
had the same daily average
temperature. Amanda Loft-
ing said she works 12-hour
shifts and is careful about
her power usage, yet her
bill went from $122.50
in November to $287 in
“I was floored,” she said.
“Now I’m $187 behind
because my bill just ran-
domly shot up.”
Christian Bloom and her
husband Steven Bloom said
their jaws dropped when
they saw their $647 elec-
tric bill showing use go
from 1,894 kilowatts on the
November billing to 4,041
kilowatts for the December
bill. They said since 2017
they installed a new heater,
a new roof and changed
from incandescent light
bulbs to more energy-effi-
cient LEDs.
“And it didn’t make a dif-
ference in the bill,” he said.
Christian Bloom also
posted their power prob-
lem on Facebook and found
plenty of folks dealing with
the dilemma.
21-year-old forklift oper-
ator, said his power bill
went from more than $300
in November to $690 last
month, making things tight
for him, his girlfriend and
their daughter.
“It’s a lot, and were real
conscientious about what
we leave on,” he said. “I
don’t make enough money
to pay a high power bill to
begin with, so we’re always
conscientious about how
much energy we’re using.”
Pacific Power spokesper-
son Drew Hanson said out
of the company’s 740,000
customers in the North-
west, “high bill anomalies”
happen. Meters can mal-
function and give “crazy
high” levels for energy use,
he said, and now and then
the company sends out the
wrong bill. But the com-
pany’s call center has not
noticed any spike in com-
plaints for the Pendleton
area, he said, so it is diffi-
cult to pin down what might
be going on.
Hanson also said custom-
ers might just owe what they
owe. He encouraged Pacific
Power customers with prob-
lems to call customer ser-
vice or visit the company’s
website. He said Pacific
Power wants to work with
its customers to take care of
problems right away.
The Pendleton residents
said they have called and
gotten no traction. Peter-
son on Friday said he spoke
with a customer service rep-
resentative who said Pacific
Power would send someone
to review his situation.
“That was two days ago,”
he said, and Saturday will
be three.
Still, Peterson said he
is urging locals to call the
power company. He said
maybe a big enough surge
will get some attention.