“This is sacred ground for me.”
More than 250 people came together May 6 for Oxford Treatment Center’s 2017 Anniversary Weekend. The event celebrated the center’s first five years of helping people overcome drug and alcohol addiction.
The day included a chance for alumni to share their recovery stories with each other and with those currently undergoing treatment at the center.
The 110-acre campus northeastern Lafayette County is home to Oxford Treatment Center’s medical detox and residential programs. After recent expansions, it can now provide care for as many as 124 people at a time. Today, some 80 percent of patients come from out-of-state through parent company American Addiction Centers.
Billy Young, CEO, said the center’s growth and success in its first five years is due to the quality of its staff. Oxford Treatment Center employs more than 135 people in four locations, including outpatient offices in Oxford, Tupelo and Olive Branch.
“Our staff at every level share a commitment to helping people build new lives in recovery,” Young said. “From nursing and clinical care, to food service and grounds-keeping, they care deeply about our mission and apply excellence in what they do.”
As part of Anniversary Weekend, staff members had a chance to visit with returning alumni and their families. Counselor Jacques “J.W.” Wuichet said the chance to reconnect was rewarding.
“A lot of times, we don’t get to see the end of our work,” he said.
“When people come back, it does my heart good to see that they’re doing well and took the time to come and tell us so.”
The anniversary event gave returning alumni a chance to see new additions to the campus, including a tour of the new 12-Step Walk by landscape designer Bill Hewitt with Experiential Therapist Hank Holmes. The tour offered each person a chance to reflect upon his or her progress along the 12-Step path of recovery, and to experience the adjacent low-ropes challenge course.
Alumni and their families also had the opportunity to take part in an art therapy session with Art Therapist Eden Flora, ATR; a mindfulness session with Experiential Therapist Meaghan O’Connor, M.Ed., NCC, and Recreation Therapist Katie Kowalke, CTRS; and an equine therapy demonstration by Marty Murray and Greg Davis.
The day included both lunch and dinner served under a white tent at the side of the lake. Staff and returning alumni shared meals with their families and with those currently in treatment at the center.
Returning to the center with 18 months’ clean time behind her, Jami L. and her husband drove from Colorado and helped out as volunteers at the event.
For Jami, the trek fulfilled a personal promise. During the last alumni reunion, she was in the detox unit and could hear the music where she lay sick in bed. She promised herself and her counselors that if she reached one year clean, she’d be back for the next reunion.
“This place saved my life — gave me a new life, actually,” Jami said. Since returning home, she has become active in her local recovery community, volunteering to lead meetings for people in jail and helping to plan an upcoming regional recovery conference in Estes Park, Colo. She’s now preparing to start nursing school.
Sarah P., who spoke as part of the event program, said her time on the Etta campus in 2012 allowed her to see how her addiction had impacted her family. Today, she’s active in the Memphis, Tenn. recovery community and helps other women work the 12 Steps as a sponsor.
“It was very ugly before I came here,” she said. “Today, it’s the flip side of the coin. Life is a beautiful thing.”