Recent News

SMRS Staff Highlight: Kevin Butler

"I spent over 40 years addicted to alcohol and other drugs. By the age of 50, I had reached my bottom. I ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. I would have died within a year if I didn’t stop drinking or be in desperate need of a liver transplant. At that moment is where my journey of recovery began. I prayed to my Higher Power, whom for years I did not have a relationship with, asking for forgiveness, healing, and directions. After a few weeks in the hospital, my road to recovery became clear. A dear friend of mine heard I was sick and asked me to go to a meeting with him at his church, and I agreed. I walked in that meeting room, and there, I had a spiritual awakening. There I found forgiveness, healing, direction, and most important to me, love. I spent the next few years healing and learning the 12-Steps and the 8 principles of Celebrate Recovery.

After being a refinery technician of almost 30 years, I decided I wanted to give back and become a counselor, so at the age of 55, I went back to school. During my internship, I was assigned to Royal Palms. Just like the meeting room experience, when I walked into Royal Palms, I knew that it was the place for me. I love what I do, and I always remember something my sponsor once quoted to me: 'Make your message and not yourself the most prominent thing. Set your heart on what your higher power has given you to do, and don’t be so foolish as to let your own difficulties or your own abilities stand in the way.' My experience with staff at Royal Palms is like working with family, and it is always rewarding to me to see the change in the residents’ lives. Also, I can say that my life has changed for the better. I have recovered from liver cirrhosis and am living a life far more rewarding then I can ever imagine."

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If you know anyone that needs help with mental health issues, substance use, abuse, or addiction, please do not hesitate to call us!

SMRS Staff Highlight: Niah Ramos

“At the age of 15, I entered a treatment center for the very first time…this is where my journey began. For the next 25+ years, my pattern was bouncing in and out of treatment centers, prisons, and back to the street life. I finally became desperate enough and completely surrendered to my disease of addiction. One step at a time, I got clean and decided to give myself a chance. I came in with 28 felony convictions, was on public assistance, volunteered to make ends meet where I could work for a few extra dollars, and worked in a minimum wage paying job in retail. I kept asking myself, ‘is this all there is for me in this new way of life?' I kept moving forward with faith and integrity, one foot in front of the other, no matter what.

I was offered a job at SMRS and my whole world changed. I call that my ‘Hope Shot.’ I began attending school and found out not only was I smart, but I was capable! Within three months with SMRS, I was promoted to the intake department. It took someone else believing in me to inspire that change for me to believe in myself. I am now self-supporting and off of public assistance and can provide for myself. I love what I do because I bring inspiration to SMRS clients on a daily basis. I get to give them that ‘Hope Shot’ that I was given.

At SMRS, it's a process of constant improvement, and people at work look up to me and ask me for advice. I get to show them the change in me, of someone who was once a hopeless addict. My coworkers are like family. Every single person I work with is appreciated. We support and help each other. When I see the light come on in a resident's eyes and they make a point to thank me ... I know that I'm doing a good job too.

My advice to everyone is: Don't give up on yourself no matter what. Trust the process, you never know what's in store for you. Please don't leave one second before the miracle occurs!”


Join the celebration for National Recovery Month!
SMRS Staff Highlight: Michelle Chavez

Congratulations to Michelle Chavez for celebrating her 1-year anniversary with Social Model Recovery Systems and for becoming a Certified SUD Counselor in the month of August. Your Stepping Stones Family is very proud of you and grateful to have you on our team! Well done!


Inspiring Wellness

For 34 years, Social Model Recovery Systems has offered hope and healing. Today, we are in-network with 10 private insurance companies and take great pride in our ability to help families and individuals who come through our doors.

If you or someone you know can benefit from any of our programs and services, please don't hesitate to call us for a no-cost screening.

Toll-Free: 877.507.6242

SMRS Staff Highlight: Anna Lee

"I started on my path to recovery in July of 2005 and can proudly say that I have 15 years clean. I had received treatment before, but it was through the motivation of a “get out of jail free card” and did not take it seriously. When I entered Social Model Recovery Systems, Mid Valley Outpatient Program through Drug Court in 2005, I had no intention of staying clean once my court obligations were complete. I could not imagine living a life of recovery because I did not think that I would be able to face the tragedies and traumas experienced in my life up to that point. I was gang raped at the age of 16 years old and kidnapped and raped for several days in my early 20’s. The use of substances numbed away what I believed to be an unjust and cruel world. My anger and resentments consumed every ounce of my being and I stayed lost in a drug induced haze. I lived out of my car, rarely spoke with my family, was unemployable, and had dropped out of my sophomore year in college. I was broken, could see no hope in this abyss, and did not care about anyone or anything.

Through Mid Valley Outpatient and Drug Court, I actually had a Counselor, Probation Officer, and Judge who believed that I was more than what I was on my court documents and arrest records. I attended 12 Step meetings, found a sponsor, and worked the 12 Steps. I received individual therapy from an outside agency in conjunction with the treatment I was receiving at Mid Valley. I learned that I could cope without the use of substances and immersed myself in the healing process toward recovery, not only from substances, but from depression and PTSD. I finally found hope, forgiveness, and acceptance. Since graduating Drug Court in 2006, my life has drastically changed, and I am living a life I never imagined was possible.

I entered school to become a certified substance abuse counselor in 2007 at Rio Hondo College. I earned my A.S. degree in Drug Studies and continued for a B.S. in Human Services at Cal State Fullerton. I graduated with my Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Southern California (USC) and currently I am 1 semester away from completing my Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) from USC. My research and topic of interest is Substance Use Disorders (SUD) in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and the social norm of “saving face.” There is a great deal of shame that many AAPI experience due to having an addiction to drugs. Because of this stigma, many AAPI do not seek help and often try to hide the problem until it can no longer be swept under the rug. Too often in AAPI communities, silence and shame keep those who are addicted, and their families isolated, hopeless, and afraid. Other significant barriers are the limited access to culturally mindful services, language, lack of social support, and lack of knowledge about Substance Use Disorders. My lived experiences are the motivation and inspiration for the passion I have for this topic and I believe that my purpose is to find solutions to address this intractable problem. I am currently developing a technology-based innovative approach to improve cultural and linguistic capacity of treatment for AAPI while reducing the stigma of seeking help for drug addiction.

I worked at Social Model Recovery Systems from 2011 to 2013 as a Relief Counselor, left to further my education, and then returned as a Master’s level intern in 2014. I was hired again in 2015 at the completion of my field placement and graduation with my MSW. I worked in both clinical and macro practice roles, which has provided me with a well-rounded perspective of the organization, as well as the field of SUD treatment. I hope to be someone who can develop and implement systems level changes that continues to improve the quality of care for individuals and families impacted by substance use and mental health conditions.

Today, I’m not ashamed of my experiences, I’m able to be vulnerable in front of others, have the courage to share my story, and dedicate myself to helping others. Life is truly amazing, and I wake up each morning feeling blessed. It has not all been easy to come to where I am now, but well worth the effort, stubborn determination, and resilience to not let my disease defeat me. My recovery has been a journey of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing that I continue to practice daily. I am truly grateful to Social Model Recovery Systems for being a light in my life and helping me to make all this possible.

I share my story in hopes that it provides some comfort, hope, and courage for others suffering from addiction to start their recovery journey. Your past does not have to define your future. There is freedom and hope that anything is possible if you are willing to give yourself a chance."