Jim Gregoire, the Trapper Fitness Center manager, knows how difficult the road to living a clean and sober life can be. A new clinic, beginning in mid-November at the fitness center, is designed to help those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. The clinic will focus on using fitness as a way to avoid relapsing.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Jim Gregoire, the Trapper Fitness Center manager, knows how difficult the road to living a clean and sober life can be. A new clinic, beginning in mid-November at the fitness center, is designed to help those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. The clinic will focus on using fitness as a way to avoid relapsing.

Nothing to lose, everything to gain

Trapper Fitness Center program targets drug and alcohol addictions

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If you go

What: The Sober and Clean Clinic

When: 4 to 5 p.m. Nov. 17 and Dec. 1

Where: Trapper Fitness Center, 261 Commerce St.

Cost: Free

Call: 824-6932.

• The program is being offered in conjunction with Colorado Northwestern Community College. It is a clinic to aid in the recovery of alcoholism and drug addiction.

— Aug. 13, 1995.

It was, as alcoholics generally call it, a moment of clarity for Jim Gregoire.

Details of that life-altering day don't escape him.

It was after midnight. He was drunk and got into his truck. He planned to make a 50-mile drive from Laramie to Cheyenne, Wyo., where he hoped to find treatment at a veterans hospital.

He didn't finish the drive.

On a dark and lonely Wyoming back road, the truck rolled a few times. The engine was found 100 feet from the wreckage.

Gregoire was trapped inside the truck.

Sitting amid a heap of twisted metal and broken glass, he took the first step toward finding the relief he was looking for from a losing battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

He'd never before cared whether he lived or died. That changed in the truck, too.

"It hit me," said Gregoire, a Milner resident. "I realized sitting there that was B.S. I wanted to live, but not the way I was living.

"I finally realized I wasn't going to do this anymore. I actually started to get happy. I knew it was over. : I knew my life was about to change."

Flash forward 13 years.

Now 60, Gregoire wants to help others who are handcuffed by a life of dependency.

As the manager of Trapper Fitness Center in Craig, Gregoire is offering a new clinic, titled "The Sober and Clean Clinic," which is designed to aid in the recovery of alcoholism and drug addiction.

He cautions anyone who believes the clinic will be a cure-all in getting rid of addictions.

"This is a small tool," he said, "but in this battle, all tools ought to be used."

The clinic will take a holistic approach to sobriety and focus on lifestyle coaching. More specifically, Gregoire said his program would tutor people about how to use fitness and constructive leisure activities to avoid relapsing.

Using a basic formula, Gregoire estimates that most people have about 72 hours of leisure time a week. After making the decision to stay sober, alcoholics and addicts are faced with the difficult question, "what do I do now?" he said.

"They know they can't go back to what they did," he said.

That time can be filled productively with healthy outlets such as fitness, and also activities such as art, music, sports or numerous other choices, he said. Finding new outlets is part of another aspect of Gregoire's clinic - teaching participants how they can "change playmates, playgrounds and playthings."

Gregoire, who has bachelor's and master's degrees in recreation exercise science from the University of Wyoming, based his thesis off research into the relationship physical fitness can play in substance-abuse recovery.

"There have been many studies over the years that (have found) exercise really helps recovering people," Gregoire said. He added, "If I was king, I would make every recovering alcoholic and addict either jog, power walk or run."

As Gregoire pointed out, addicts and alcoholics need every advantage possible in beating what are inevitably long odds. That is, he said, the chances of staying sober.

He said only a small percentage of people coming out of rehab remain clean and sober for 5 years or more. Filling leisure time with positive outlets can stimulate the brain in similar yet less harmful ways as drugs and alcohol.

"This is not hocus pocus," he said. "This is the science of recovery. : There is valid research out there since 1968 about this."

Gregoire has coordinated similar clinics in rehab centers and hospitals in Wyoming. The latest offering is in conjunction with Colorado Northwestern Community College.

The clinic will last about an hour, and the fitness center will be open to clinic participants only for the session.

Anonymity will be protected, he said.

From using cocaine to suffering from alcoholism, Gregoire has been down the hard road addicts must travel to get clean, he said. He used fitness as a way to get better, and so can others.

Gregoire summed up the clinic best when he described the opportunity it provides as "nothing to lose and everything to gain."

"You can change your life now," he said.

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