Friday marked Michael Wilbur’s 153rd consecutive day of sobriety.
His is an all too typical story. The 25-year-old got hooked on heroin after popping prescription painkillers as a teenager.
“It basically brought me down to a point where I was stuck and I couldn’t get back up in life,” he said.
Michael ended up at the Didgwalic Wellness Center run by the Swinomish Indian Tribe.
Soon, many more like him will have access regardless of whether they are Native American.
The need in for treatment centers across Skagit, Island and San Juan Counties is great.
Didgwalic already serves 250 patients a day with a waitlist of 200 more. The plan now is to double its capacity and open by summer 2020.
“We realized we were the option for the local community, meaning the greater community beyond Swinomish, to address the opioid epidemic,” said CEO John Stevens.
Didgwalic is believed to be the only treatment center in the country that provides NARCAN, drug counseling, medical attention, medical assisted drug treatment, mental health counseling, and daycare all under one roof.
The center even provides transportation and clothing. The focus is on keeping treatment as seamless as possible.
“Even the most well-intentioned patient has a difficult time meeting all of the steps they have to complete. There are just so many barriers,” said counselor Chris Curtis. “So when they arrive here, and it’s all under one roof, I can just walk them down the hall, introduce them to a mental health professional, and start treatment that day.”
According to Stephens, in its first year of operation, the center has seen fatal drug overdoses on the reservation drop from five or six to one or two.
“Our model is working,” he said.
Michael Wilbur simply hopes the expansion will help many more in his community follow in his footsteps toward sobriety.
“It’s everywhere,” he said. “You can’t run from this. You’ve got to face it head-on.”
This content was originally published here.