The first thing I notice when I walk in to the center on an early Monday afternoon is the smell, that acute smell of spray-on cleaning solution used in hospitals. Everything is completely static clean, and the entrance lobby reminds me off my dentists' office. Tasteful blue chairs and maroon couches surround a large waiting area in full view of a receptionists' desk on the side. The magazines on the coffee table are of the inconsequential type, stuff like "Parenthood" and "Popular Mechanic." A couple people are casually waiting; pleasant, normal looking people. The whole effect is of a pleasant doctor's practice, and on first look you would never be able to tell that this is the waiting room for a chemical dependence treatment center. A rehab center.
I talk to the receptionist, Anne, and she tells me about the clinic. This one is fairly small, fifteen rooms or so. Outpatient only, this clinic is mainly a place for people to have some quick community support for their addictions and to place people into programs that they need or find them support groups. Anne tells me that almost everyone who comes there had asked for help that day.
About twenty people work full or part-time at the clinic, mostly as counselors and as group leaders. Most of the clientele are white collar workers, people whose health insurance cover the cost of the clinic. She tells me that the majority of people who come in for treatment come for alcohol addiction, though in last five years crystal meth has quietly become more popular in Oregon. They usually don't deal with the meth users as extensively here, though, because the neighborhood is fairly upper-class and crystal meth isn't very popular here as it is in other areas of Portland, particularly in the outlying areas beyond the suburbs. She tells me it was getting pretty bad for a while because it's ridiculously easy to make crystal meth with common supermarket items, at least until tighter restrictions were put on some of the main...
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