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Recovery program offers hope and home

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● Published by Keyra Kristoffersen

Damian Trujillo and Kenny O’Rourke founded Inspiro, a Sandy recovery and treatment center. (Damian Trujillo)

When the police chased him down in a stolen car that night so many years ago, Damian Trujillo had no idea his life would turn around so entirely. Instead of dying that night, he was led on a path through prison to treatment at the Haven, a Salt Lake-based recovery and sober-living facility, his first time ever in that sort of environment in 2008.

“I promised myself one day I would come back to this facility or a facility like this and work here and do what these counsellors are doing, helping people,” said Trujillo.

Trujillo began doing hard drugs and getting arrested at 13 years old, and was in and out of prison at 19. All of that came to a head with a bar fight and high-speed chase with police that included Rosie Rivera, who was elected Salt Lake County sheriff in August of 2017.

“I suffered quite a bit because of my addiction,” said Trujillo. “When they stopped me, I tried to get them to shoot me.”

Upon graduating from the program at the Haven, Trujillo got involved in recovery programs around Salt Lake where, he said, they have a pretty strong program with a lot of different people and types of groups. After becoming a licensed substance abuse counselor, he went back to the Haven and worked there as a counselor. It was while he worked there that he met another recovering addict with a sadly similar story of substance abuse named Kenny O’Rourke, who shared Trujillo’s dream of opening a treatment program of his own. 

Trujillo said that even the best treatment centers only average about 10 percent sobriety rates among those seeking help, and felt that those odds were inadequate and unacceptable. He and O’Rourke became business partners and interventionists, starting Inspiro in Sandy in 2016.

“We’re here helping people get into treatment, helping people get into detox, helping people get into sober living,” said Trujillo. 

They currently get about 20 to 30 calls a day from people seeking help and have around 20 in their program. Until they have a fully functioning treatment center of their own, they pull people off the street, out of homeless shelters and crack hotels and give them a place to stay at either of their houses or a hotel until they can be taken to a treatment facility. Trujillo believes they have built trust in the community that is helping others.

“We wanted to be part of their lives through the whole stay. We want to build a community around this place,” said Trujillo.

He credits his recovery with the encouraging and understanding people around him.

“They protected me and kept me safe, and so we want to create that environment here,” said Trujillo. 

O’Rourke and Trujillo are hoping to be able to expand into an in-patient facility and offer patient detox. They have spent a lot of time lobbying and working on a prison reform committee, even sitting on the prison relocation committee to help bring their perspective to planners and local government. At the annual Utah Sheriff Convention in St. George, they were also able to provide perspective and opinions on effective ideas.

In November, Trujillo celebrated nine years of clean and sober living and O’Rourke celebrated three years with more than 150 of their friends and colleagues at a Gratitude Day where they gathered together, ate food and shared their stories. 

“Kenny has drastically changed his life around. He helps out a ton of people. He answers his phone any time it rings,” said Trujillo. “He’ll go above and beyond what his call of duty is.”

Inspiro also employs a team of 12 to 13 recovering addicts as staff and interns to further continue their path to living healthy lives. 

“We really want to create a safe environment for people that want to be sober and don’t want to be mixed up with alcohol and drugs,” said Trujillo.

That includes hosting events like UFC (ultimate fighting championship)  Night and perhaps gatherings for the upcoming holidays to ensure people have a welcoming place this winter.

For help or more information about Inspiro’s mission, visit http://www.inspirorecovery.com/ 

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