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Peer group for drug addicts opens in Ronan

RONAN —  A new evening recovery center for drug addicts, the Never Alone Recovery Hall, recently opened on Main Street thanks to the combined efforts of Don Roberts and a supportive community.

Twenty people from an addiction-focused support group are helping, Farmers Insurance agent Diane Ivanoff donated the space at 309B Main St. SW and Twice But Nice thrift store and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes donated tables and chairs.

“This really isn’t about me. It’s about our recovery community and having a place where people can come, be safe and learn about recovery,” said Roberts, who is a senior social work major at Salish Kootenai College. 

The recovery hall is a capstone project, he said, adding that it also is part of a 1,000-hour internship that is required for him to be a licensed addiction counselor. 

Drug use as a youth

A Redding, California native, Roberts said he started using illegal drugs as a youth. 

“I was taken out of my home at age 9 due to physical abuse,” he said, noting that he spent his adolescence in foster and group homes.

“In that journey, I came in with a lot of trauma. My way of fitting in was through drugs,” he said, noting it started with marijuana and alcohol and escalated first to LSD then methamphetamine. By age 18, he was a full-blown meth addict. 

As he grew older he supported his habit by committing crimes including burglary, assault with a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property and auto theft. All were committed to support his drug habit.

Following a move to Montana nine years ago, Roberts started to turn his life around, but not before he got a federal conviction for distribution of explosive materials and counterfeit currency after he sold ammonium nitrate mining material to an undercover FBI agent for some $2,000. 

“When I was in prison, I did everything in my power to do something different and it didn’t help,” he said. 

Eventually he got involved in a residential drug abuse program, an intensive nine-month, 500-hour program offered through the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

In early 2012, he got out of prison and came back to Montana and wrapped himself in a 12-step support group, which was all that was available locally, he said. 

Enrolled in college 

Roberts’ sponsor in that program recommended that he go to college, so he enrolled in SKC where he and a group of four others started an addiction-focused support group. 

“I began sponsoring others in the program,” Roberts said, noting that a sponsor is enrolled in the program and teaches a newcomer about recovery.

Roberts said Lake County didn’t offer much in the way of drug treatment until a drug court was started earlier this year. The drug court, which was recently notified that it will be awarded a $450,000 three-year federal Department of Justice grant in the coming months, is an intensive outpatient drug treatment program, Roberts said.

The new Never Alone Recovery Hall is supplementing the drug court. 

Hours are 6-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Monday is women’s night. Plans are in the works to add a “Friends and Family” support group on Friday nights for those who have drug-addicted relatives or friends. 

Roberts said he would like the recovery hall to be open on Saturday and Sunday nights in the near future as well. 

He views the Never Alone Recovery Hall as a peer drop-in center. “We’re trying to develop a recovery culture and expand the recovery community,” he said. 

For more information, stop by or email never_alone@workmail.com. 

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