Like many local families know, addiction is something that, once planted, can take root and grow. And grow. And grow.
Statistics show opioid abuse is rising across the nation. And closer to home, the last few years the numbers of deaths by drug overdose in Santa Clarita have averaged about one per month.
But there is a family in Canyon Country who decided to slow the pace of the problem. And they hope their idea can take root and grow faster than the rate of addiction.
Teri and Greg Gault turned their Sand Canyon home and its expansive grounds into a residential detoxification center, which they opened last fall. The house is now the site of a chemical dependency treatment program that focuses on motivating change and helping patients develop a healthy, therapeutic lifestyle of recovery.
Oaks of Hope is licensed for a partial hospitalization program, or PHP. Clients go to the house-turned-treatment center Monday through Friday for six hours of groups. Intensive outpatient treatment is not available through their program, which is a stage where people in recovery find a sober living home.
Oaks of Hope admits patients in the initial stages of recovery. “We’re the first point of contact — that’s detoxification,” Teri Gault explained. “Detox is usually anywhere from 5-10 days, depending on what their condition is. Then detox plus residential is about 30 days.”
The patients take part in a minimum of six groups a day, and on weekends they go on outings. There are speaker meetings, which is often a place for members of the program to find sponsors. Most of the treatment uses the 12-Step Program, such as Celebrate Recovery, which is Christian-based.
“Some people don’t want to do 12-step and they don’t have to do 12-step. There are a lot of ways to get well,” Teri said. “The clients come first. We really care about them. We want to challenge them. It comes down to one word that comes to me a lot, which is ‘submission.’ If they want to submit to the treatment plan, they have a really good chance of making it, and we have a lot of good results.”
So far, 18 individuals have “made it” through the program at Oaks of Hope and they range in age from 19-54. “We have a fantastic clinical team,” Teri said. “But also it’s a great home — this place is meant for recovery. My friends, everybody would say, ‘There’s just such a good feeling here.’ That’s the Lord.”
Before Greg and Teri Gault and their two sons created Oaks of Hope, the house was their residence. After they made the necessary preparations and got a home occupation permit, it was transformed into a place of recovery and they moved to a four-bedroom rental property in Canyon Country.
“I’m so content with it,” Teri said. “It’s kind of amazing, leaving after living here for eight years, and now I get to come here every day (where) I see people coming in and people getting well.”
Oaks of Hope is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a high-end neighborhood. There is an outdoor gym, a swimming pool and a full-time chef.
What motivated the Gaults to open Oaks of Hope was their watching family members suffer the consequences of addiction.
“I have a brother that I lost to meth-related heart failure and he was only 29,” Teri said. “And I have another brother who was in and out of incarceration. He’s sober now. He’s one of my key staff members.”
Oaks of Hope is a residential detox center for chemical substances and alcohol. “In 2008 in the Santa Clarita Valley we started having a lot of black tar heroin,” Teri said. “But now it’s gone more towards ‘benzos,’ which is Xanax. We’re seeing that coming from everywhere.”
Doctors, nurses and therapists work with patients at Oaks of Hope, who all have psychological evaluations, and sometimes they are referred to a higher level of care. Sadly, there are times when individuals are referred to treatment facilities, but never show up. One woman who was referred to Oaks of Hope overdosed the night before being admitted.
“Her name is Audrey,” Teri said. “We have a chair that our clients sanded and painted that sits in our room and the empty chair reminds everyone that you need to get help, because nothing good comes from drug abuse.”
When you discuss the range of drugs that are affecting the lives of addicts, Teri can reel off a long list, including Fentanyl, heroin and elephant tranquilizers.
“When people are on heroin it’s a game changer. But the good news is, with treatment there are a lot of ways to get well. They’re going to find something that makes a difference,” Teri said. “If you want it, it’s here.”
For more information about Oaks of Hope, call 866-705-HOPE.