WASILLA — True North Recovery is hosting a Halloween Launch Party Oct. 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. to celebrate their new treatment campus. It will be a chance to meet their team and enjoy live music, a costumed dance and silent auction.
This pioneering, peer led substance abuse program with a multifaceted, brick and mortar location is a tremendous leap from its humble origin. True North founder Karl Soderstrom said it all started with a Facebook page.
“It’s been a wild ride but I think it speaks to the need in our community for addiction treatment and I think it speaks to the support we’re receiving for this peer movement,” Soderstrom said.
While Soderstrom was doing his college internship with MyHouse founder Michelle Overstreet, he created a Facebook page with like minded individuals with the same goal. They created a page for locals in recovery to have peer support network filled with numerous motivational videos and encouraging posts.
He said it was meant to be a safe place for those struggling with addiction to talk about recovery and encourage each other to live in long-term sobriety. It was also created to help shift the conversation about substance abuse.
“We launched this Facebook page with the intention of just making these videos and talking about recovery and trying to change some of the public perception around addiction…We were trying to tell people that it’s okay to say, ‘I was an addict, I got help. I got clean and you can too,’” Soderstrom said.
The group was called Fiend 2 Clean and it just blew up, according to Soderstrom.
Over time, the simple forum platform started evolving into a network of locals like Soderstrom who were turning their lives around and wanted to help others get sober and do the same. He soon realized it was turning into something much bigger.
“That kind of grassroots Facebook page kind of turned into this movement,” Soderstrom said.
Soderstrom said that countless waves of people kept reaching out for help with getting sober and the next steps for long term sobriety. He said they starting building relationships with local treatment centers to help funnel people into recovery.
“We did this for like a year and it was all volunteer based and passion driven work,” Soderstrom said.
Fiend 2 Clean kept establishing connections with treatment centers and local entities like the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and therapeutic court along with other analogous groups around town.
Local treatment centers like Set Free Alaska started to notice how much of an impact they were making in the community and reached out to see if they would be interested in doing peer support for their clients.
This “peer support movement” was a unique and untapped model, according Soderstrom. He said their team of peers was doing something rather revolutionary as far as treatment efforts go across the state.
He said they’ve been “breaking the mold” as the only peer directed organization in the state. He said that everyone on the team is either in active recovery or has family in recovery.
They eventually became a full-fledged nonprofit with an office, and in April 2017 they opened two sober living homes, one for men and the other for women.
Soderstrom said the Alaska Division of Behavioral Health liked what they were doing and offered them financial support to grow their program.
He said they rapidly outgrew their officer space and rebranded as True North Recovery in 2018. They have since moved to downtown Wasilla, near the train station. They will soon operate out of two buildings and the second building will be fully remodeled by the time they hold their launch party.
From group therapy to intensive case management, True North Recovery covers a gauntlet of recovery services. Soderstrom is particularly proud of their same-day services because in this line of work, waiting too long to get help can be a matter of life and death.
“There are no waiting lists,” Soderstrom said.
Soderstrom said that he’s humbled by their massive growth and he’s grateful to organizations like MyHouse and Set Free Alaska for their support in the early days.
“We exist because the community helped build us,” Soderstrom said.
Soderstrom noted that anyone who is currently struggling with addiction or knows someone who is can call them at: 907-313-1333 and they will help them immediately.
True North is located at 591 S. Knik-Goose Bay Road, Wasilla.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com