Jon Clarke, Oak Tree Recovery House
In this podcast, Jon Clarke of Oak Tree Recovery House in Asheville discusses recovery homes. The mix of structure and independent living can make a recovery home a valuable tool to make that important first step out of addiction treatment a successful one.
Gina Thorne: Hello everyone, this is Gina Thorne with Lakeview Health, thank you again for joining us for our Lakeview podcast series. I’m joined today by Jon Clarke, founder of Oak Tree Recovery House in Ashville, North Carolina. Welcome, Jon.
Jon: Thank you so much, Gina.
Gina: We’re excited to have you here today to learn a little bit more about what Oak Tree is about. I understand you’re a clinician, you’re a person in recovery and of course you’re a business owner. Can you tell us a little bit about how Oak Tree Recovery House got started?
Jon: Yeah, Oak Tree has been around for about two and half years. It’s been kind of a new venture for me. Most of my career I worked on the inpatient side. Basically the reason why I switched over to recovery residences is because it gave me the opportunity to be more hands on, be a part of people’s daily lives and build stronger relationships and I feel that’s been a big part of an avenue of therapy, is the strength of the relationship and also they’re there for a while. Most of my guys stick around for 6 or 8 months. So, it a fairly new venture for me, in terms of being a business owner. I’m brand new at that, you know, and it’s been a learning curve and I have lots of coaches.
Gina: You surround yourself around some pretty smart people to kind of help you through some of the process too, I’m sure.
Jon: Yeah, most definitely, I have a lot of support.
Gina: Good, so Oak Tree is a male-focused aftercare program, correct? And why did you decide to focus on men vs. women?
Jon: You know, I think more than anything, is I wanted to learn the recovery residence, the business side, how it looked clinically, how it felt. The best way I could train people that would come behind me is to learn it from the ground up and I knew that if I didn’t choose the men population, I wouldn’t be able to be there. I lived on property for the first year. So I wanted to know what every aspect looked like. What it was like getting up, what it was like in the evenings, transportation, food issues, doing yard work–whatever it involved, I wanted to know the very intricacies of what is was like to run it. That’s worked out very well because I’ve been able to, you know, kind of guide the guys that work for me now on how that looks and how that feels and when they get frustrated, I can say ‘that’s exactly what happened to me.‘ So it’s worked out real well and now that I understand it better, I have had thoughts of opening a women’s house, as well.
Gina: A little different than a men’s house, I’m sure.
Jon: Yeah, a little bit different, a few new challenges.
Gina: Well, I think it’s neat because what makes it separate from other programs that I heard of is that you’ve taken the time to invest in being part of the community and being there so you can say I’ve been there, done that , which is really kind of cool, that’s very unique about your program.
Jon: The guys would say that to me. Unfortunately, the way addiction works and recovery is it doesn’t always happen the first time. And I’ll have guys that have been to several different recovery residences and halfway houses, whatever you want to call them, that will say, “Jon, the reason we like it here is because the owner’s around. We’ve never been to any place where the owners are in every meeting, there every day.” So it does, it makes a difference.
Gina: Well, you already hit on my next question, but can you tell me a little bit more about what distinguishes Oak Tree from other recovery residences?
Jon: You know, a big part about it, I think, is my clinical background. There’s a lot of people that open halfway houses, recovery houses that don’t have that. It’s more like: ‘There’s your bed, make sure you go to your meetings, get a sponsor and I’ll see you next week to collect your rent.’ Mine isn’t like that. We have groups every day. There are 12-step meetings on property. In terms of initially when they get there, it’s real structured in terms of curfews and drug testing, communication. We usually wait few weeks before someone gets a job, there’s no dating for the first 30 days. Those types of things that just get people grounded in recovery, and then it’s just a process as we begin to gain jobs, cars and girlfriends. So most houses aren’t set up that way, where you still have a little bit of emphasis of more support in the beginning and you kind of gradually you work your way into independent living. So I am able to see that both through my own personal recovery as well as just clinical experience. This is not ‘let’s see if I can just fix my problem real quick’ and it’s a gradual process.
Gina: With some great structure to it, which is really important.
Gina: So, you obviously have a great passion for recovery and you indicated on the Oak Tree website that your recovery is your number one priority. Do you encourage philosophy for all residents in the program?
Jon: Most definitely and I think that for anyone that might be listening is that that doesn’t mean that the number one, I wake up every morning, that whatever happens stay away from drugs and alcohol. Recovery has become a lifestyle for me, and that’s what I try to introduce to the guys that are there. You know, they talk about it being a spiritual program and to me that is the number one priority. I say spiritual, basically that’s a journey towards humility, towards doing the right thing by others. You know, people overthink that and that’s what the number one priority is and I do instill in my guys is to work on your character, work on your integrity. You know people think that spirituality that they got to run out and catch it and the best way I can describe it is, to be spiritual is the same as having health. You cannot not have health. You either have good health or poor health. Spirituality is the same thing–everybody’s got it, it’s just are you taking a message out to the world that is positive and helpful to others or are you self-centered and hurtful? And that’s as simple as it makes it and I really emphasize to the guys to see that. That’s what recovery looks like. It’s just not hurting yourself or others. So very much that what I wake up every morning and try to accomplish.
Gina: Now you can see that and you can see that it really exudes through you. You visited with Lakeview today; you had some time to meet with some of the staff and learn a little bit about our program. What is one thing you can comment on about your experience with us today?
Jon: There’s a bunch of things I could. I mean obviously the number one thing is the staff that I’ve had the opportunity to sit with, the investment that I’ve been able to see, the enthusiasm. You know, just that fact that I’m sitting here, they came to my property in North Carolina, Heather and Derek, and to meet the clinical staff, Roy, he’s the top dog, I believe, and for him to take time talking with nurses, you can see it. What you complimented me on, I can say that back to you guys: You can see the passion and investment, that jumps out at me. Obviously the facility is beautiful. I was talking to Derek– it’s weird to see a facility that not surrounded by mountains and the thoroughness, you guys are so comprehensive in all the different facets that need to be addressed.
Gina: Well, thank you for that we appreciate it, we’re really glad to have had you here. So if someone wanted to access services at Oak Tree how would they get in touch with you?
Jon: That’s the easiest thing that sometimes is the hardest. Literally, it’s just picking up the phone. There’s two numbers for anybody that may be interested, one being what we call the hotline, which I will answer or my right hand man Delvin would answer and that number is 828-275-1319. My personal cell phone number is 704-249-4231 and it would always be helpful to look at the website. It’s pretty inclusive and tells you more about what we do and that is oaktreerecovery.com, again oaktreerecovery.com. There’s no money that’s exchanged hands, there’s no paperwork, the only thing that happens for an admission decision to be made is an interview with me and then we decide whether or not we feel you’re a good match. You know, I very much want to help you as well as that your energy brings an asset to the Oak Tree community as well. You can interview me as well but that’s all it is a phone conversation away. And if the Oak Tree doesn’t work out, I know a lot of people and I’ll try to help you find a place that will work for you.
Gina: That’s great, that’s great. That good business, that’s really good business. Well thank you Jon for taking the time visit with us at Lakeview today and also for talking with us about Oak Tree. For those of you interested about learning more about Lakeview Health, we encourage you to visit us online at lakeviewhealth.com and of course if you have someone that’s struggling with substance abuse and needs treatment right away, they can give us a call at 866-460-8416, again 866-462-8416. Thank you.
Jon: Thank you.