Hard Work, Support and Humor Help to Build Arlene's New Career in Recovery

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We are fortunate to have dedicated and skilled employees that serve our clients with compassion. And sometimes, our past clients come full-circle to become amazing employees that help and inspire our clients. Arlene Thiessen (pictured), residential treatment specialist (RTS) is one of our former client’s that has come full-circle and we are very proud to have her on our team.

Wayne Waits, former administrative assistant/centralized scheduling at the North Sound Behavioral Health Treatment Center (NSBHTC) and current case manager at the Carnegie Resource Center shared, “Arlene was a client in treatment when I first started my career at Pioneer. When she graduated from the substance use disorder program, Arlene told me how she was going to come back to Pioneer one day and apply for employment. She wanted to be a residential treatment specialist.

Wayne added, “Arlene applied and was hired at the Skagit Community Detox program that Pioneer operates and is now working in Everett at the NSBHTC. She is simply amazing, and is great with clients. It makes me very happy to see how she went from being a client - to serving our clients and gaining custody of her kids. Arlene is also getting ready to buy a house. I am SO proud of her!” 

Arlene’s Journey
For over 20 years, Arlene had been dealing with a substance use disorder (SUD). She knew she had to face her addiction and wanted to get clean and sober. However, her pattern seemed to be that she would get clean and sober for a few months and then relapse – and the cycle would continue. 

When Arlene’s significant other passed away, she did not have the coping skills to deal with the trauma. She was now a single mother raising two boys on her own and her substance abuse was rising out of control. Arlene’s method of dealing with her grief was to drink to numb the pain. One day, she was driving with her boys in the car and was pulled over by police. She was charged with a DUI and the Child Protection Services got involved removing the children from her custody. 

“I knew I was in a deep rut and was determined to get clean and sober to get my children back. I felt that if I could get sober, and get a job to help activate my mind and steer it away from my grief and boredom, I could move forward in a positive direction,” stated Arlene. 

Residential Treatment
Arlene went through an intensive outpatient Program (IOP) and then was referred into Pioneer Center North for residential treatment. She engaged in the treatment program and bonded with some of the other women in treatment - forming friendships. 

My desire to get clean and sober, and break the cycle of relapse, was brewing inside of me. I was very tired of my situation – it was time I faced my addiction head-on,” said Arlene. In treatment, Arlene also learned to be patient with her recovery process. “It took me 20 years to get me to this level of addiction, so I had to give myself some time to recover. This was not going to happen overnight,” Arlene added.

Once Arlene graduated from treatment, she started working with various agencies to get the training and follow the steps needed to gain employment and custody of her children. She needed the work experience and wanted to create a path of stability to expedite her efforts on gaining custody of her children. After entering a program that DSHS and Community Action provided, Arlene applied for work at Pioneer and was hired as a fill-in position at Skagit Community Detox. Eventually she was promoted to part-time work as an RTS at the detox center and then moved into a permanent position on nights. 

In the interim, Arlene regained custody of her youngest son from his grandparents, so she could no longer work nights. She applied at the NSBHTC and was hired as an RTS during the day. In this role she works with clients and our health staff with everything from taking client’s vital signs - to driving them to drug court meetings and making sure they are eating their meals or participating in classes. 
Arlene commented, “I would like to share with individuals in treatment, or considering it, that there is hope! Not every birthday or holiday season will be like the one you going through now. If you are struggling with addiction things will improve if you engage in treatment. Take tiny steps – instead of one leap so your transition is easier.” 

She added, “Remember – you did not get where you are overnight, so it won’t be overnight that you will get where you want to be! The first 60 days in recovery are the hardest but it does get easier. Be kind to yourself.”

Arlene is known to use humor to get a smile out of a struggling client. She shared, “It is important to wipe away your negative feelings and voices that try to side-track you in your head. I am known to tell bad jokes to clients to try to pull them out of a negative spin. Laughter can be a great healer also.”

We are very proud of Arlene as she has come full-circle and is an outstanding member of the NSBHTC team. She now has custody of both her sons and is fully engaged in her recovery – as well as the recovery of others. Pioneer is privileged to have such a role model on our team. Thank you Arlene!

Enjoy one of Arlene's jokes:
"What do you call a line of rabbits jumping backwards? Answer: A receding hare line!" 


Wednesday, January 18, 2023