When one hears of drugs, it is often the crime aspect that comes to mind. But the underpinning to addiction is frequently a pain that some are desperate to assuage at any cost. Unfortunately, the lure of the drug, once it makes contact, can spiral into an even greater pain.

Enter Touchstone Ranch Recovery Center, located a little over a mile south of Selden. Owned and run by Nonie and Frank Reed, the center has been in operation for four years. To build such a place had been Frank’s dream for many years.

“Frank has been zeroed in on this. It is what he has always wanted to do,” Nonie Reed said.

She is forthcoming about their interest in having such a facility available to those seeking help.

“I don’t mind breaking our anonymity,” she said. “Frank and I have been in recovery by the grace of God for 26 years. And the best insurance against using or drinking again is to help others.”

And that is just what Nonie and Frank are determined to do at their center. Nonie, who has a master’s degree in education and is a licensed chemical dependency counselor, claimed Frank is the visionary.

“I’m just the counselor,” she said.

She is the leader of the five counselors who treat the clients staying at the center.

Animals have figured largely in their approach to treatment. And last month, the Reeds added an exotic touch to their menagerie—a nine month old Australian wallaby, the smaller, lesser known cousin of the kangaroo.

“I got her on April 1. I’ve had her for six weeks,” Nonie said. “They told me to keep her on the bottle for two months. She’s just like a baby.”

The nine month old wallaby’s name is Roo, and she is firmly attached to Nonie, who, like a wallaby mother in the wild, is feeling the urge to wean Roo from constant care. Currently, Roo is carried around in a soft denim purse which replicates the pouch, a hallmark trait of marsupials.

“They stay in the mother’s pouch until they are eight months old. I feed her milk three times a day. If she were in the wild, she’d still be in the pouch.”

What makes Roo effective as a therapy animal is her uniqueness.

“Everyone is drawn to her because they haven’t seen one before,” Nonie said. “Anything different is energizing to them.”

Touchstone Recovery is home to horses, dogs and donkeys, which are also used in the treatment process. Clients are trained to take care of the animals as part of the daily chores assigned to them.

“When you are in a tremendous amount of pain, you are really selfish. You are stuck in it all. Part of the grief process is getting out of the pain. And animals are a neat way of getting the clients there,” Nonie explained.

She continued: “I have to teach them how to hold the animals. I try to help them to relax. They have to learn the animals will respond to a client who is tense. The animals read their mood.”

Nonie estimated 90 percent of the clients who come to her ranch initially have to be detoxified. Having to tend to the animals that are kept in roomy pens on the ranch helps them to get through the detoxification process. It also gives the counselors insight into their clients’ emotional states.

“Sometimes the clients get frustrated. Like with equine therapy, they might not be communicating with the horse. And they might blame it on the animal. The animal just isn’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. And watching them together gives us the opportunity to see how they communicate, where it is a problem, and what they need to do to make it different outside of here,” she explained.

Animals are a natural in drug therapy. People feel comfortable with them because the animals are vulnerable and reliant upon them. Roo will make a nice addition to the therapy crew which includes a newborn donkey. Caring for her will help clients create a healthy relationship, which will open doors to other beneficial bonds.

“It’s about relationships. The most important one for them to have is a relationship with God,” Nonie said.

And that is the bedrock upon which the success of every recovery program rests. Much of the time is devoted to group meetings.

“All of the groups are about life skills. But the basis is spiritual principles. That’s the 12 steps. The steps say that you have to believe in a higher power. We have all faiths here. What matters is they have a God of their understanding. What has been their higher power before was the drug. They understand they already had a higher power, but they need to change it to something healthier. Something that will lead them in a good, orderly direction.”

Touchstone Recovery Center is licensed by the state, which means 90 percent of the cost of treatment is covered by insurance. And the center has a scholarship fund through the Touchstone Ranch Christian Foundation available to some who are without insurance.

“If someone is really motivated, we’ll do our best to help them,” Nonie said. “It’s important to know there is hope. There are resources out there. It’s too big to do on your own. You have to have some help.”