'God called me to adjust people'

Former insurance adjuster quits job, take reins of recovery program

Doug Gould hopes to pay forward his newfound sobriety by spearheading a fledgling nonprofit, Christian-based drug and alcohol recovery program.

Foundations for Recovery, located on the fourth floor of Medford's Woolworth Building in downtown Medford, is a place where addicts can seek help. It is also a place where they, and Gould, can "pay it forward", he hopes.

"I owe Medford a lot," Gould said.

Gould, 51, can track the trajectory of his alcohol addiction from teen years spent guzzling beer at backyard keggers to his last drink in October 2011.

In the intervening years Gould worked at church camps and as an insurance claims adjuster. He also ticks off triggers and triumphs of his drinking career — a failed marriage, the death of his parents, a frightening visit to a local emergency room following a relapse after he tried to stop drinking on his own.

"I tried to hide my drinking," Gould said. "I know what pain I caused in my family."

It was after the ER visit that Gould called his friend Steve Hale, who ran a "Bible-based program similar to AA," at his church in Trail, he said.

"I said 'I need help'," Gould said. "He said, 'You need God."

Hale was the original executive director of Foundations for Recovery. Gould followed Hale's one-on-one coaching approach, with a faith-based 12-step program, and one day became six months, six months became a year, and then another six months followed, he said.

Hale's death in March spurred Gould to quit his 14-year job as at Allstate Insurance, and "put his name in" to become the new executive director of Foundations for Recovery, he said.

"God called me to adjust people. He did not call me to adjust claims," Gould said.

Gould has faced questions about his 18 months of sobriety, specifically whether it's long enough for him to know he can lead the organization. He acknowledges the program currently has recovery coaches with significantly more sobriety time than he does.

"To someone who's never battled alcoholism, a year and a half is not much time," Gould said. "But to an alcoholic, one day is huge. Let's go one day at a time."

Coaches are not sponsors or counselors, he said. But they help clients navigate a path to sobriety by meeting with them regularly, teaching through a series of lectures and studies and by providing mentoring.

"Sponsors help with 12 steps," Gould said. "We look at a whole gamut of needs. We help them find homes, enroll in school, fill out financial aid, get an Oregon Health Plan card."

Foundations for Recovery provides transportation for clients to its facility daily through public transportation vouchers, he said.

Gould said 66 people have come into his program so far. Of that group, 42 percent are "clean and sober," he said.

"We want to give back to the community," Gould said.

While the program is Christian-based, Gould said all religions are welcome — or even those who are not faithful, he said.

"We look at the hurts, hang-ups and habits that cause the person to use," Gould said. "But the bottom line is you like the effects (drugs or alcohol) produces. Now let's get to the behaviors on how you can get sober. As a man of faith, I say nothing happens without a reason."

Gould said he simply wants to help addicts, one soul at a time.

"We have a big epidemic in Jackson County," Gould said. "We take all comers."

To learn more about the program, see www.lovefoundations.com or call 541-245-4673.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.


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