Interview: Mark Oerther; Red Oak Recovery
By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: June 23, 2014

In this podcast, Mark Oerther of Red Oak Recovery discusses how different types of programs can help patients during recovery. He talks about wilderness programs and how nutritional therapy and learning to eat well are great steps to take in early recovery.


Gina Thorne: Hi everyone, this is Gina Thorne with the Lakeview podcast series. And I’m joined today here by Mark Oerther, with Red Oak Recovery. It’s located outside of the Blue Ridge Mountains, outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Mark is partner and director of business development and he is joining us here at Lakeview to visit our campus and learn a little bit more about our services. Welcome, Mark.

Mark Oerther: Thanks for having me.

Gina: So, we’re interested in hearing a little bit more about Red Oak Recovery, but when I did some research on you, I learned that you have a pretty strong and extensive background in therapeutic wilderness programs. You worked really close with mental health and addiction. How did you get into this field?

Mark: I got sober when I was 21, and was really drawn to the therapeutic industry. I started when I was 25, actually with a backpack, working these groups–16, 18, 21 days at a time–where we would take adolescents out on the trail and I really noticed change take place. So we would take these 1, 18, 21 day trips in the wilderness and I would notice the element of change happen. So you would take an adolescent, you take a young adult, anyone, remove them from distractions, and all of a sudden, get the real student, the real client, the real person. Gina: And they’re based in their natural environment, so you can’t mess with Mother Nature, can you? Can’t get a better teacher.

Mark: Exactly.

Gina: That’s what I’ve heard a lot about with wilderness programs. So, how did you get into working with Red Oak Recovery?

Mark: So, I met Jack Klein, one of our partners, about 15 years ago and we started talking about ‘hey, one day, wouldn’t it be great if we….’ So, over the years we noticed some of the things that may have been missing within client treatment and client care, and so some of the things we wanted to add in, like extra group time, extra individual sessions. Because typical is one hour a week; we’re looking at two to three individual hours a week, 16 hours of group care, whether it’s art therapy or Gestalt therapy or whatever the case may be, plus adding an adventure component. One of the big things we see is when young adults–young men or young women–come in and they’re young and they’re getting sober and, like, how to have fun again. Part of that is teaching them how to have fun in recovery.

Gina: Yeah, that sober fun is so critical for folks because they’ve never done it. In many cases, it’s completely absent from their mind.

Mark: Completely foreign.

Gina: Right, right. So, you talked a little bit about what sets Red Oak apart from other programs, and one of the things I noticed on your website is you have a nutrition therapy program. What can you tell me about that?

Mark: So, we hired an executive chef. Her name is Sharon and what’s she’s brought is the organic farming, plus the nutritional aspect of it. When people come in, they’re depleted. They don’t know how to cook for themselves. They don’t know how to take care of themselves. So part of it is we’re going from farm to plate, as far as what we’re serving. So, not only cooking healthy but teaching them how to cook for themselves and we have a garden, we have a greenhouse. So we’re really teaching them, literally, from the farm to their plate what food looks like, what it tastes like.

Gina: So a total wellness component.

Mark: You got it.

Gina: That’s fantastic.

Mark: We’ve got the exercise component plus the food component. So it’s really different from what I would call typical

Gina: You’re a men’s and women’s program?

Mark: We are. So we have 18 male beds right now and 8 female beds. And that program–the all-female program is opening August 1.

Gina: OK, very good. Gender-specific is important. So this is your first time visiting us at Lakeview Health and I’m just curious about what are your thoughts and impressions of the program so far?

Mark: Extremely impressive. I mean, I love the expansion and where you guys are heading. A lot of crossover from what we’re seeing and looking at, and I’ve got to meet a good amount of the staff and I’m extremely impressed.

Gina: Well, thank you. We appreciate it. We believe that we’ll have an opportunity to partner pretty regularly with Red Oak Recovery, so we’re glad that you’re in our network. If someone wanted to, if they’re listening today and they needed to access services at Red Oak Recovery, how would they reach out to you?

Mark: They can reach us a couple of different ways. They can reach me on our toll-free number, which is 866-831-9107. Our website, which will give you a lot of information about Red Oak Recovery, is, or you can drop me an email at

Gina: Fantastic. It’s so great that you stopped by and we got to know you a little bit more. For those of you that are interested in learning more about Lakeview Health, we invited you to visit us online at . Thanks again, and we look forward to talking to you soon.

Mark: Thank you very much.