Utah Stories: Recovering from Substance Abuse in Isolation

Utah Stories covered Wasatch Crest in a story on how the pandemic has affected addiction recovery. Find an excerpt from the article by journalist Cathy McKitrick below.

“Recovering outside

Wasatch Crest Treatment, founded by Jim Huffman in late 2016, has two assets working in its favor: a stunning natural setting and a host of outdoor activities that aid in the recovery process.

Situated on a sprawling seven-acre estate in Heber Valley, the mountainside retreat offers trail runs, topnotch skiing and snowboarding at nearby resorts ― and even pickleball.

‘Our outdoor recreational piece is huge … one of the things our clients love the most,’ Huffman said. ‘So we’re continuing to do those things that are safe and have distance.’

Huffman himself has been in recovery for almost 14 years, and said he remembers how difficult it was initially to seek help for his addiction.

‘I was so ashamed, and I didn’t want anybody to know I was having a problem,’ Huffman said.

In his younger days, Huffman ran the Wasatch 100, a 100-mile endurance trek stretching from Utah’s East Mountain Wilderness Park to Soldier Hollow.

Rich McDonald, his longtime running buddy, approached Huffman in 2016 about purchasing the treatment center from its then-struggling owners.

Huffman took the leap, and McDonald became Wasatch Crest’s first employee. A trained clinical mental health counselor, McDonald now serves as the center’s clinical director.

In a November 2020 blog, McDonald wrote that addiction is a disease, not a moral issue. He also urged people in recovery to share their stories.

‘It is often the shame and stigma of addiction that keeps people who need help from seeking it,” McDonald wrote. “As we stop the misinformation and shine light on the millions of people living healthy sober lives, we provide hope for the future.'”

Read the full article.

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