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Low-cost addiction assessment clinic opening June 1 in Jeffco

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By AJ Vicens

Rand Kannenberg knows what it takes to beat addiction.

The 49-year-old has spent more than half his life working full time in addiction counseling. He's authored two books on the subject and has lectured in every state in the country. His work has taken him beyond the U.S. borders, with lectures in Puerto Rico, Italy and South Africa.

Now, as Kannenberg plans to open the low-cost Jeffco Addiction Assessment Clinic on June 1, he says his experience overcoming alcoholism is one of his strongest tools in helping people overcome their addiction demons.

"Therapists aren't always good at practicing what they preach," Kannenberg says with a subtle smile as he sits in his Lakewood office. He looks out one of his windows as he describes the period in his life when alcohol was his respite from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kannenberg was involved in a traumatic situation at a Denver hospital during Thanksgiving weekend of 1993 when the husband of one of his patients attacked him and several other therapists, believing they were mistreating his wife. The man killed a security guard at the hospital, and the shock from the event sent Kannenberg down the steep spiral of alcohol abuse.

His struggle to overcome alcohol abuse gave him a sense of what it means to battle addiction and win.

"I'm probably a better person for (addiction assessment) than I was before," Kannenberg says, adding that he still considers himself to be in recovery.

Kannenberg's new business venture is his walk-in clinic, which he's opening June 1 in Lakewood. The JAAC, as he calls it, is the only clinic in Colorado that offers assessments only for people with addiction problems.

The benefit is that most people spend thousands of dollars trying to figure out if they have a problem and if that problem requires outpatient visits to a therapist or inpatient treatment at a licensed addiction counseling facility.

Kannenberg's assessments will cost $250, and he hopes to see most people within 48 hours.

"We're going to charge less than one-tenth the cost of other places," Kannenberg says. "It'll be a lot less expensive, and it'll be a lot faster."

Kannenberg says that through his years of working in the field, he's learned that about 80 percent of people can beat their addictions with outpatient treatment from a therapist. The rub is that most people end up going to an emergency room and spending thousands of dollars, only to be sent home and referred to an outpatient therapist. He's hoping to save people time and money at a crossroads in their lives.

Kannenberg said that after a long career spent at various hospitals and lecturing around the world, the JAAC is his "final dream job."

He talked about the challenges of his type of work, namely the people who don't think they need treatment and definitely don't want it. However, after more than 25 years, he still enjoys it.

"I like what I do," Kannenberg says, "because people get better. People are never recovered; they're recovering."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.

The Jeffco Addiction Assessment Clinic opens June 1 and is located at 7475 W. Fifth Ave., No. 150D, in Lakewood. The phone number is: 303-233-HELP, and the website is www.jeffcoaddiction.com.