The value of second chances

The City Council got it right: Addiction can happen to anyone

The author is executive director of the Skyway House.

Skyway House has been treating substance abuse in Northern California since 1993. In those days, treatment might have been simply a safe place to sleep and a ride to a 12-step meeting. A lot of hand-holding and praying … for recovery, for redemption and for a second chance.

Treatment has evolved a lot in the ensuing 18 years. Today we are licensed by the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. Our staff are trained and certified. Some have a collegiate level of education; some have learned from experience. All are dedicated and driven, passionate about helping addicts get clean.

In 1993 the drugs of choice were found on the street; today you’re more likely to have a prescription for what you’re trying to kick. Our clients are the soccer mom who, after a car accident, started taking too much of her prescribed pain medication; the chronic alcoholic who has never been able to control her drinking; and the addict using street drugs whose disease has progressed to the point of incomprehensible demoralization.

We serve addicts from every walk of life, every socioeconomic level and every educational stratum. The common denominator is pain. When a person reaches a bottom and is ready to make a significant change, Skyway House can offer solutions.

The City Council got it right on Oct. 18 when it voted to deny the appeal of a use permit for our women’s residential facility on the north Esplanade.

Mayor Ann Schwab reminded all gathered that those people (addicts) are our people. “These people are our community,” the mayor said. “We have an obligation in our community to offer treatment facilities for those people who want to … make big changes in their lives.”

And big changes they are. We ask our clients to change the people, places and things that are associated with their addiction. Essentially, we ask them to change everything. And in return they are guaranteed an opportunity to become a productive member of society. To become a tax-paying, law-abiding, ballot-casting member of our community. In other words, by seeking treatment, they are guaranteed a second chance.

The Skyway House mission is to open doors to a purposeful way of life. We look forward to a day that our services are no longer necessary. Until then, we will continue to provide hope and healing for all in our community.