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Gateway's new SOAR program for teen boys

Gaia McVey (left), a clinical supervisor at the Gateway Foundation, and Anna Jurich (right), the facility's program director, talk to one of the residents of Gateway's SOAR program in 2017.

CARBONDALE — Between 80 and 90 percent of those treated for substance use disorder at Gateway Foundation in Carbondale, both men and women, have experienced trauma, according to Anna Jurich, executive director of Gateway Foundation in Carbondale.

Money became available to expand the services offered by Gateway. They needed to figure out how they wanted to expand and where additional resources could benefit their clients.

“So, that’s kind of how we decided what kind of program we were going to open. If we could specialize in anything, this was a huge need that we have,” Jurich said.

As a result, the Gateway Foundation opened "Her Story: A Woman’s Path to Recovery," a 12-bed residential program in Carbondale on Oct. 4.

Jurich explained that all of Gateway’s programs address co-occurring mental health issues and they touch on trauma because most clients have suffered from both of those.

“Many time we hear back from our patients that this was a wonderful program because it addressed some of those underlying issues they don’t often see in substance abuse treatment," Jurich said. "We wanted to specialize the program and make it a safe place women to unpack their trauma and start to work on the symptoms it causes in their lives."

There is a huge correlation between trauma in childhood even and substance dependence later in life, as well as traumatic events throughout one’s life. Someone who suffers from trauma often has symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from it, and one of the ways they combat the PTSD is using substances.

Trauma is defined by the perception of the person who experiences it. Two people can have an experience and one will have ongoing symptoms from it. That is what Gateway is treating. Another person can experience a trauma and not have lasting effects.

In other words, it could be something really horrific for one person and not as bad for someone else.

“A lot depends on the age of the person at the time of the trauma. Many of our patients here experience significant childhood trauma in the form of physical abuse or neglect, and also sexual abuse, which seems to be a really high rate of experience here,” Jurich said.

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People will sometimes be re-traumatized as they age. Sometimes their substance use puts them into situations where they become a victim very easily. Because they are used to be treated in a certain way, they continue to choose relationships that are similar.

Children may not have the coping skills to deal with trauma, either because of their age when the trauma occurs or because they have not been taught coping skills. Without coping skills, they cannot process the experience. This can lead to stomach issues, substance use, anxiety and depression, as well as other physical and mental conditions.

Jurich says trauma occurs in society at lot more frequently than we realize unless we think about it.

“Statistically, 75 to 80 percent of our clients have experienced significant childhood trauma," Jurich said. "I would say it’s easily 90 percent of the clients we see here, both the adults and the kids."

Substance use is a chronic disease. Some clients have more complex issues and really need to spend time on those underlying issues. In the new program, women spend a little more time on trauma and coping skills.

Gateway uses evidence-based practices. Some of the treatment methods in the women’s program include: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), with women in trauma treatment developed by Stephanie Covington.

Plans are underway to add movement in the future. “We find that things like Yoga have some great efficacy in treating trauma and helping the brain to slow down and process things,” Jurich said.

Psychiatric services available to clients who need that support.

She added that people have to shift the way they think of substance use. That is not the whole person. Substance use does consume a lot of their lives, but it’s not totally who they are.

“I believe strongly that this will make a huge difference in women’s lives,” Jurich said.

For more information on the programs provided by Gateway Foundation, call 877-592-2761.

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