Take a step back and think about your life. Your successes, your mistakes. Good times and bad. You work hard and you play hard. But what if you lose control? For years many substance and alcohol abusers faced this reality.
After attending college and receiving her master’s degree, “Katie”, like many college graduates, was focused and driven. However, in September 2009, a police officer found Katie experiencing side effects of a drug overdose while sitting in her car and immediately arrested her. Realizing something needed to be done, Katie is now getting her life back on track and she has turned to the Oasis Professional Center for guidance and support.
For more than 5 years, many local professionals, volunteers and a Board of Directors dreamt, planned and fundraised in hopes of the day when improved substance abuse and addiction treatment services would become a reality for the Central Florida region. The Oasis Professional Center is a result of their work, opening in June 2010 to the Orlando community.
Generally, counseling programs in Central Florida have refused services to individuals on addiction medication. As concerns grew to build a center specializing and supporting those who needed medication-assisted therapy, experienced professionals came together all for the same cause: to create a high quality, reasonably priced service for those influenced by the destructiveness of problem substances and addiction.
Research indicates a successful recovery may be achieved by combining treatment medications with behavior therapy. During treatment, various types of medications will assist the patient to stop abusing drugs, stay in treatment and avoid relapsing. “Substance abuse is a growing problem that impacts so many people,” says Susan Hansen-Engelhard, MA, licensed mental health counselor with Oasis. “Whether they are the ones caught up in drug abuse or they are family and friends of someone who needs help to stop, it touches many lives.”
The Oasis Professional Center understands the valuable role of medication in supporting recovery and remains as one of the only practices to offer these services. The staff consists of specialists with years of experience in the profession. Currently, there are mental health counselors, certified addiction professionals and a licensed psychologist to assist with recovery treatments. Should a patient require additional assistance, the center has strong referral relationships with area addictionalogists and psychiatrists.
Treatments are individualized for each person at the center. The staff examines and reviews factors including the severity of the dependence on substances, the degree of negative behavioral consequences, the amount of social support and the ability to purchase services.
Oasis Professional Center provides services for individuals in need of outpatient care. The staff encourages patients to become involved in a 12-step program, as well as other recovery support activities. “Becoming drug free is the first step,” says Deborah Orr, Ph. D, of the Oasis Professional Center. “Rebuilding one’s life is the ultimate goal and we’re here to help them do that.” New patients may arrange services on any day, including Saturdays and evenings. However, contacting the center ahead of time to make an appointment is necessary, as this is not an emergency visit facility.
Many programs at the center utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational incentives, motivational interviewing, and group therapy. These fundamental practices help educate patients about addiction and substance dependence, how to modify attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse and explain a mixture of coping strategies to apply throughout the process. “If you want to live a life beyond your wildest dreams,” states a previous client who asked to remain anonymous, “then let the professionals of Oasis Professional Center help you work a program of recovery.”
Moving Forward, Oasis Professional Center plans continue offering services to individuals and loved ones who struggle with substance abuse. “It’s very rewarding to be part of someone’s recovery process,” explains Hansen-Engelhard. “The desire to help is one of the main reasons we’re here.”
Looking down the road, as the center continues to grow, the staff and Board of Directors intend to provide community education services, training opportunities for professionals wanting expertise in this area and services for a variety of self-insured individuals and other groups.
Although work may be challenging at times, Orr finds her career very rewarding.
“Restoring people’s dignity through education, providing tools and coaching and watching them return to the people they were before addiction brought contortions into their lives is incredible,” she says. “You watch relationships recover and thrive. You participate in the miracle of hope, through a professional skill and I couldn’t want anything more.”
Article by Carol Galbicsek