June 7, 2018

From Tony Vezina, Co-Founder and Executive Director of 4th Dimension Recovery Center

The 4th Dimension Recovery Center (4D) is an addiction recovery community center located in NE Portland that attracts over 600 young people every month for recovery support. 4D is different from traditional treatment—where a person with addiction goes for stabilization, acute medical care and to develop coping skills—because 4D provides recovery support services.  This really just means that 4D is the missing link in the service chain towards long-term sobriety by providing an environment of immediate and unlimited recovery support. Because addiction is a fatal, chronic disease of the brain expressing itself behaviorally, recovery needs to provide behavioral support to stabilize it mentally. So, recovery is something people do for life and 4D provides the long-term support people need to achieve it.

4D creates long-term support for young people (35 & under) in two primary ways: social interactions with recovery communities and free peer-recovery mentoring. These two services are staffed by people in recovery and create an atmosphere appealing to young people seeking recovery. Furthermore, 4D is a true recovery run organization, which means all staff and volunteers (including administration and board of directors) are recovering people. This can be very different in the treatment sector where leadership positions are often held by people who are not in recovery.

4D’s Community Services & Values

The community center serves as a social hub—think sober club—by hosting a variety of 12-Step and other recovery meetings, organizing many dances, speaker meetings and rap shows, and providing board games, pool, ping pong and video games. Recovery mentors staff the community center and provide one on one or group support to individuals wanting additional support in their recovery journey. A mentor might help one young person get into drug treatment, while helping another person get their kids back. A mentor might help one client find recovery housing and help another find a master’s program. 4D mentors meet people where they are at and help them discover what recovery means for them.

All 4D services are person centered and trauma informed. Compared to traditional treatment models that are more deficit based and directive, 4D mentors support the client in accomplishing self-directed goals and help the client recognize strengths in achieving them. Additionally, 4D mentors are people in recovery who, to a large degree, understand the trauma experienced by the clients they serve. Lastly, 4D is entirely voluntary; young people come because they want to and they stay because they feel supported. 4D’s one-year retention rate (the amount of young people who attend 4D and stay longer than a year) is 64%.

A Day in 4D’s Service Life: Saturday, May 19th.  

Tony Vezina opens the club at 9:00 a.m. in the morning just before the day’s first Recovery meeting, a Buddhist centered approach called Refuge Recovery. Tony then meets Andrew Swanson, Oregon Recovers Project Manager to finalize a strategy for a fall Recovery Walk. Oregon Recovers is a statewide coalition led by the recovery community with support from treatment providers, treatment professionals, legislators and other healthcare systems all working to transform Oregon into the Recovery State. As it stands, Oregon has some of the highest rates of use in the county with some of the lowest access rates to treatment. In September, the recovery community convened to take a stand and address systemic barriers. Read the Street Roots article here.  

Various young people meet throughout the day at 4D, some just hanging out and others meeting with mentors while working on multiple goals. Tony works on his laptop (prolly writing a blog or something boring) while the recovery crowd shuffles in and out of the center. Meanwhile, social media explodes regarding an event happening later in the evening. The Recovery Tap-in event is organized primarily by youth in recovery and starts with four speakers, two with over five years sober and two “newcomers” with less than a year. These speakers will share their recovery stories in hopes of inspiring the crowd to find or sustain their recovery. Following the speaker meeting is a DJ Dance that will likely include rap battles. These events draw anywhere from 50–150 people. After the dance concludes, the 4D crew will roundup clients driving them back to their residential treatment centers or recovery homes.

Next Steps

Young people come to 4D for various reasons and what they find is a vibrant community of peers overcoming addiction by supporting each other. Not only is 4D providing recovery support to the Portland area, but they have also taken on a more significant role in the community by sponsoring the Oregon Recovery High School Initiative, a school opening strictly serving teens in recovery. Read the Portland Tribune article here.  Both Clackamas and Washington Counties are considering 4D’s effective model and we hope our mission will proliferate across America, maybe the world.

Last year over 60,000 died from drug-related overdoses. This month over 600 young people will find recovery at 4D. Please visit our website for more information at http://www.4drecovery.org or contact 4D’s Tony Vezina at tony.vezina@4drecovery.org.