July 19, 2022 – Patrick Ryan, clinical program supervisor of Recovery Center Missoula at the Western Montana Mental Health Center, serves on the advisory board for the program and calls it “essential” to the treatment of substance abuse in the community.

“Demand for services always outweighs supply,” said Ryan, a recovering alcoholic himself. “I have patients waiting three to five weeks to get one of our beds. While they’re waiting, they will continue to use. Not all of them will make it to their admission.”

Sober since April 23, 2012, Ryan said he tried for years to manage a disease that is unmanageable without help, finally getting into a long-term treatment program offered by WMMHC’s Share House. While there, he was accepted into the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program and enrolled in Missoula College’s Chemical Addiction Studies program. He eventually moved his way up from a volunteer at WMMHC to a Licensed Addiction Counselor and is now the director of the recovery center.

“The fact that I have come full circle has not been lost of me,” Ryan said. “To go from patient to student to professional. That is what this is all about.”

Smith and Ryan stressed that while many students in the program are in recovery or have family experience with addictions, it isn’t necessary to succeed as an addiction counselor.


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