Simone phases up at Clitheroe

December 19, 2013

Midway through her 90-day residential treatment at Clitheroe Center, Simone appears before a panel of counselors to try to “phase up,” meaning to advance to the second of three levels she’ll need to reach to graduate from rehab.

Simone is one of 12 in the “Reflections” program for women trying to break away from drug and alcohol addictions. They usually operate at capacity, and there’s a waiting list to get in.

Simone is just one month into treatment. She meets one-on-one with a counselor every week, attends 12-step meetings and learns skills like resume writing and anger management.

The center is hidden at the remote edge of the city, past moose-filled walking trails and the roaring cargo hangars of Ted Stevens International Airport. She’s far from the liquor stores and needle exchange of her Midtown neighborhood. Instead, she stands before the counselors and shows a “path of recovery” poster she has made.

The “good path” is drawn over words she feels keep her healthy: pray, family, school. She also shows the path to relapse, which is paved with thinking errors, like “weed is not bad,” and behaviors like skipping meetings.

Simone tells the counselors she’s ready to make the most of the two months she has left in the program. She steps out of the room so they can talk about her case.

“She’s also FASD. She’s pretty mild,” counselor Vicky Nelson says, looking around the table. “She has demonstrated a tremendous amount of maturity for someone her age.”

When Simone is called back into the room, the panel applauds.

Originally published May 3, 2014 by Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage Daily News.