Moonlight Recovery

Zulaen Fernandez, clinical director of Moonlight Mountain Recovery, poses for a photo on the front porch of the facility.

For almost all of his 20-year marriage, an Idaho Falls man had secretly used methamphetamine as a coping mechanism to mask memories of his time spent in Iraq in the late 1990s while serving in the Navy.

Mike Reinbolt’s wife, Annette, always had her suspicions, but gave her husband the benefit of the doubt when it came to his explanations for leaving the home in the middle of the night or for various drug paraphernalia she found around the house.

Mike Reinbolt

Mike Reinbolt

It wasn’t until Mike was arrested last August and charged with felony meth possession and driving under the influence that Annette moved all of Mike’s belongings into their garage and gave her husband an ultimatum — go to rehab or find another place to live.

“I thought it was the end of the world,” Mike said about his wife’s ultimatum. “I didn’t have much to look forward to anymore because I was pretty much using constantly. It started off slow and just worked its way into more of a regular habit. I didn’t really know why I was using other than I knew it helped me deal with bad memories.”

If it weren’t for Moonlight Mountain Recovery, located atop the Pocatello Creek canyon east of Pocatello in Bannock County, Mike says he would have lost something he needed the most in his life — his family, including Annette and his three teenage children.

A facility that accepted its first residents in May 2018, Moonlight Mountain Recovery is a voluntary, in-patient drug and alcohol treatment center that incorporates the latest research-based treatment modalities with individualized levels of care so that those who struggle against addiction can regain their freedom and independence long after they’ve stopped using, says Dustin Morden, Moonlight Mountain Recovery director and co-founder.

Located in a five-bedroom home in a residential neighborhood, the facility houses a maximum of eight residents for periods ranging from 30 to 90 days.

“We get people calling us from all walks of life — people with jobs and those who are unemployed, wealthy white-collar workers to those who don’t have any money or insurance, and everything in between,” Morden said. “We hear from 18-year-old kids dealing with heroin and meth addictions to 80-year-old adults addicted to painkillers. Our goal is to treat anyone and everyone as best we can and we have some awesome success stories.”

Since opening, Morden, who started the center with his brother Wade, who lives in Heber City, Utah, says Moonlight Mountain Recovery has graduated more than 100 people from its program, and the center fields about 75 calls a month from people looking for services. What has made the center so successful, Morden says, is a customized approach for each individual as opposed to generic one-size-fits-all methods of treatment.

“We have created and finessed over time an amazing recovery program and we’ve tried our hardest not to make it cookie-cutter,” Morden said. “We try to customize the program to each individual because each person comes in here with a different background, culture and religious belief.”

Much of that individualized approach involves using what Moonlight Mountain Recovery Clinical Director Zulaen Fernandez calls dual diagnosis treatment. Also referred to as co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis is a term for when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously.

“A majority of our clients come in with a substance addiction and a mental health issue, maybe anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder,” Fernandez said. “We really try to focus on addressing both at the same time because they really affect one another. Many of our clients may be self-medicating because they are dealing with mental health issues and they aren’t always aware of that.”

Mike’s meth addiction is a prime example. In addition to dealing with a substance abuse issue, Mike struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, though he was never diagnosed nor aware of such, he said.

Through meeting with a counselor at the facility, however, Mike was able to identify the underlying mental health issue that contributed to his use, and in doing so, uncovered ways in which to handle those emotions in a more healthy manner.

One treatment method instrumental in dealing with trauma related mental health disorders that Moonlight Mountain Recovery incorporates is something called ART, or Accelerated Resolution Therapy.

ART works directly to reprogram the way in which distressing memories and images are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong physical and emotional reactions.

Mike said he did participate in some ART sessions, though the program was in its infancy stage of implementation when he first arrived. For Mike, the difference-maker was not necessarily the myriad treatment offerings, it was actually direct interactions with Morden and other staff at the facility.

“The Mordens actually treated him like a decent human being and that went a long way for (Mike),” Annette said. “They treated him with the respect he needed.”

Mike added, “Dustin would take us out riding in a razor that he has, take us out fly fishing and would just treat me as a normal person, not a drug addict. They would let us roam about the house instead of in small rooms and let me go out to dinner and a movie with my family every Sunday night.”

Mike Reinbolt and Dustin Morden

Dustin Morden, driver, gives a thumbs up with Mike Reinbolt sitting in the passenger seat of an ATV.

Because of its secluded location outside of city limits, another form of unique treatment available at Moonlight Mountain recovery is one-on-one equine therapy. Morden says a licensed equine, or horse, therapist comes to the center every weekend to treat residents, utilizing several different techniques, most of which don’t even involve riding the horse.

“For instance, she will bring a horse into the corral that is very hungry and place a bucket of oats on the other side of the corral,” Morden said. “Our residents are told to stand opposite of the oats and without physically touching the horse they are tasked with coercing the horse to come to them and not toward the thing it really wants or desires.”

Morden continued, “She will take that experience and relate it to that person’s life and their addiction. Addiction eventually becomes a disease and the disease literally takes control of their decision making every day. Important things in their lives — jobs, kids, families — all go to the wayside for the addiction. With this specific therapy, they learn that they can master self-control even if their mind and body is telling them they can’t.”

Moonlight Mountain Recovery has been so successful, that the Morden’s recently opened a sister facility in Nampa called Treasure Valley Recovery, which will utilize the same treatment modalities and approach.

And moving forward, Morden said the goal of Moonlight Mountain Recovery is to help even more people by finding a way to work with state funds such as Medicaid and Business Psychology Associates, or BPA, in the near future. As of now, Moonlight Mountain Recovery only accepts those with the financial means to pay for treatment or those with private insurance, though Morden said the center does implement flexible payment plans for those with limited income.

After spending two-decades-plus at the mercy of a substance, without ever realizing why he was using meth in the first place, Mike said Moonlight Mountain Recovery is the only reason he has maintained sobriety since the day of his arrest, Aug. 23, 2018. Not only clean, sober and living life with his family, Mike said Moonlight Mountain Recovery also helped him give up smoking cigarettes and drinking caffeine, two substances that are among the most addictive on the planet.

“I wouldn’t be married and I’d probably be in prison to tell you the truth,” Mike said about where he would be had he not went to rehab. “Without Moonlight Recovery, I don’t know where I’d be. They truly saved my life.”

Reporter Shelbie Harris can be reached at 208-239-3525. Follow him on Twitter: @shelbietharris.