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New mental-health clinic built on personal experience

The Daily Inter Lake - 3/6/2019

March 06-- Mar. 6--Print Article

Chad Kingery had to pause for a moment before reading a quote that not only is representative of him and his wife Katheryn's mission for their new chemical dependency and mental-health clinic, but also reminds him of a time when he suffered from addiction himself.

"Addiction isn't about drugs or alcohol. It's the absence of self. The absence is described as a hole in your soul," Chad said, with a slight break in his voice.

He continued, describing the nature of struggling with drugs and alcohol with an air of familiarity, as an illness that "robs you of any sort of self-respect and self-esteem."

Chad can recall years ago when a doctor told him he would fail to get sober if he didn't completely change his lifestyle. And at the time, he had been in and out of jail and had racked up multiple felonies -- a series of events that convinced him to take his doctor's advice seriously.

He began integrating sobriety into his everyday life by pouring himself into becoming a dually licensed mental-health and addiction clinician, and what began as a means to change his lifestyle quickly turned into a life passion for helping others rediscover their sense of self.

His career eventually landed him in Flathead County, where he has spent the last seven years practicing that passion. There is an overwhelming need for addiction counseling and mental-health resources, he noted.

In December, Chad and his then-fiancee Katheryn took a step toward addressing that need one by launching Alpenglow Clinic, LLC, a state-licensed, Kalispell-based chemical dependency and mental-health clinic created with the vision to treat addiction and mental wellness as being congruent with one another.

"Many chemical dependency clinics just treat the use and the addiction and don't address some of the mental illnesses that are a direct influence on the use," Chad said. "The two go hand-in-hand, so we strive to treat the root of the addiction as well."

He described the multiple-services approach as a breakout from the traditional "cookie cutter" chemical dependency clinics.

"We have a holistic approach here, which allows us to look at the clients on all levels," Katheryn said. "We look at their social, mental, spiritual and other needs that need to be addressed in order to treat addiction."

Alpenglow currently serves around 60 clients and has one part-time and four full-time employees. They serve a variety of clients ranging from those on probation and parole to others striving to meet Child Protective Service requirements.

For the Kingerys, who married in February, launching the clinic has been a nine-month labor of love. It has come at the expense of a little bit of their sanity, including 15-hour days and almost all of their savings. Chad provided the expertise and Katheryn provided the know-how for building the business and designing the space into one that feels more like a home than an office.

The inviting atmosphere is something that reflects another mission for the clinic, which is to treat clientele more like family than customers.

"In my experience, it's hard to find a clinic where the people that run the place treat you as your equal," said Tricia Potter, an Alpenglow client of two months. "You come in where you are and how you are and they'll meet you where you're at."

Alpenglow's small but growing team reflects the Kingerys' push to offer multiple services under the same roof. Similar to Chad, Gary Kent is both a licensed emotional counselor and an addiction counselor, and Victor Hanson is a longtime addiction counselor. The two came out of retirement to help refine Alpenglow and support the clinic's mission.

"There is a community disconnect between chemical dependency and mental health," Kent said. "Chad has a wonderful vision that addresses both."

Hanson agreed, and also highlighted the amount of time, effort and finances it takes to run a clinic, stating it takes "hundreds of hours of personal commitment to make it happen."

Although the clinic had its soft opening in December, the Kingerys are full steam ahead for their goals for Alpenglow.

Among other tasks, they hope to eventually provide more services in the same building, such as anger-management resources and employee services from CASA workers. They would like to offer various programs in elementary, middle school and high schools throughout the county in order to address addiction and mental-health issues at a younger age. They aim to work closer with other available resources in the county in order to streamline services. And they want to continue educating the community on addiction and all that goes along with it.

"Everything starts at the education ground level," Chad said. "Addiction is an equal-opportunity destroyer. It does not confine itself to any socio-economic status or race or gender. Anybody is susceptible and the more they understand, the more prepared they can be."

On March 13, Alpenglow will have its grand opening at its facility, 285 Second Ave. WN in Kalispell. The event is open to the public and will offer snacks and beverages. Clinic staff will be available to provide more information about the services available. For more information, call 406-890-2570.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com

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