In the mid-eighties, at a time when help for battling addiction was sorely needed — but nowhere to be found — area residents rose up to fill the gap. And not just for their own hurting families, but for future ones, as well. Out of that great concern for people in the community, Shawnee's own Gateway to Prevention and Recovery was born.

Now, three decades later, Gateway is still reaching out to those in need.

Gateway Clinical Director Cindy Stober said despite a difficult year — with the instability of state funding — the nonprofit continues to provide substance disorder treatment.

Though Gateway's focus has always been one of making strong connections with its clients, it's amping up its efforts to connect with the community.

“The more people we have to help, the less the burden is,” Alicja Carter, wellness coordinator, said Thursday evening, during Gateway's annual dinner.

She said the agency's leadership has taken the group far in the last year — noting the value of staff being encouraged to take care of themselves, so they can take care of their clients.

“The staff can't give away what it doesn't have itself,” she said. “We are going through the same process we expect the clients to go through.”

Patient care

Whether the issue be alcohol, drugs or gambling, Stober said the staff and its programs at the clinic will work on the addiction together with clients.

“We work daily with families,” she said. “There's a true culture of health and wellness here.”

Gateway goes beyond simply issuing a pill. The clinic offers medication-assisted treatment services.

Outpatient services are available for adults, adolescents, children and families who have behavioral health and substance use issues.

“Substance disorders are the primary problem,” she said. “People often get stuck on pain medications.”

In most cases, she said, relapse is likely without outside help.

She said the nonprofit — through structure and (self) discipline — can help people through these treatable conditions.

“Everything we do is about relationships,” she said.

For opioid dependence, she said, the treatment that has the best outcomes is medication-assisted treatment with longterm treatment combined.

Gateway is a distribution site for free Narcan Kits for persons under age 18 who are at risk of overdose from opioids.

“These kits cost $75 at other places,” Stober said. “We offer them for free.”

A family member or friend may pick one of these up at the 45th street office, she said.

Gateway history

According to the nonprofit's website, Gateway to Prevention & Recovery started as a group of local, concerned citizens coming together as a result of watching two Chemical People television specials in the 1980s. These citizens sustained a planning group in an effort to pave the way for addiction treatment services to be offered in their community. Gateway was initially named the DARE program of Shawnee. In 1985, DARE secured its 501c3 non-profit status; hired its first professional staff member; and received a foundation grant for operating capital. Through efforts from the board of directors, private donations, the Shawnee Noon Day Lion’s Club and United Way, funding was acquired to start providing addiction treatment services to the community.