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Alcohol, drug counselors active in Sandy

Classroom, counseling facility is at 38590 Pioneer Blvd.


Driving while intoxicated, actually the disease of alcoholism, is a nemesis of today’s society.

If you listen to Gary Patterson talk about the disease and the way it affects drivers, you’ll soon sense that he is not very positive about the overall effort to reduce the number of alcoholics.

Alcoholics are born every day.

Alcoholics die every day.

But Acadia Northwest Councelors Patterson and Brad Grier are also concerned about the number of innocent victims of drunk drivers.

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - POST PHOTO: JIM HART Alcohol and Drug Counselor Brad Grier stands outside the new location for Acadia Northwest in Sandy. The outpatient counseling facility, which has seven offices in the Portland area, is open Tuesdays and Saturdays in Sandy.Together, they comprise a number of deceased people that staggers the imagination.

Patterson likes to compare the number of people who die because of a drunk driver to the number of those lost in the nation’s wars.

In Iraq, for example, the United States lost about 5,000 soldiers. During the years of that conflict, 100,000 Americans died as a result of drunk drivers.

During the years of the conflict in Vietnam, 58,000 Americans lost their lives. During the same time, 240,000 Americans died on U.S. roads because of drunk drivers.

Nowadays, nearly 50 people die each day on U.S. roads, Patterson said. That’s one every half-hour, 24-7.

No wonder counselors such as Patterson and Grier are busy, trying to stem the tide. It’s difficult work, even though Patterson has a master’s degree and the highest level of certification in alcohol and drug counseling.

Acadia Northwest is an alcohol and drug outpatient treatment center that Patterson and his wife, Susan, formed in 2003 with their friends, Roger and Heather Kirby.

They and their other 20 certified counselors offer individual and group counseling and education to reach the 10 percent of the population who are alcoholics.

“We don’t make (clients) change,” Grier said. “We just give them the tools to do it.”

“And we really support those who are making changes,” Patterson said.

Clients follow an education curriculum that Patterson wrote, using guidelines from the state and the principles of client-centered counseling.

Counselors meet clients from one to three times a week and attempt to take them through the stages of change. Grier says they help their clients make changes and then help them see the changes.

Unfortunately, most clients initially offer resistance to any change. They don’t think it’s necessary. They are at Acadia only because a judge told them they had to see a counselor. They don’t realize alcoholism is a family disease, where one alcoholic affects between seven and 42 other people, Patterson said.

“(Alcoholism) is a disease of denial,” Grier said. “Alcohol becomes the most important thing in their life.”

Patterson says education about the disease tends to break down clients’ initial resistance.

“While alcoholism is killing you,” he said, “it tells you that you don’t have the disease.”

Counselors at Acadia Northwest are successful at doing interventions, Patterson said, and they offer one year of free after-care.

Their services are available to anyone at 38590 Pioneer Blvd., but an appointment must be made. There is no need to have a judge’s order to seek care.

For more information, call Grier at 503-285-3200 or send an email to Grier at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The website is acadianw.com.