From support groups to plays, a new website sets out to amass an all-inclusive list of addiction-related events.
When Doug Rudolph was fighting his way out of alcoholism nine years ago, he looked for a list of all the available programs, meetings and support systems in the Twin Cities. But with most recovery organizations focusing on publicizing only their own activities, he couldn't find an all-inclusive source.
So he created one. A month ago he launched InRecovery, a one-stop Web information site for people battling addictions.
"I borrowed 'one-stop shopping' as my ad slogan," he said with a laugh.
But he's not joking about the site's mission. Some people teasingly call Minnesota "the land of 10,000 treatment centers," but that doesn't mean that it's always easy to find what one needs.
"There are a lot of events and lot of meetings, but the information is disjointed," Rudolph said. "Everything is associated with individual places. If someone says, 'I want to go to an event on Friday night,' there hasn't been any way to find out what's available. That's what I want to do."
His website is inrecovery.co (note the domain designation; using .com leads to a website dealing with computer data recovery). To create it, he started "searching the Twin Cities like crazy," he said. "I sent a lot of e-mails and I spent a lot of time online doing research and making connections. We list everything recovery-related: lectures, workshops, even plays. We have the most extensive list that exists in a single resource."
There are advocacy groups that serve as resource centers, but their connections "consist mostly of links that take you somewhere you can find the information," Rudolph said. "I don't want links. I want information."
In addition to the calendars that can be searched by date, type of event or the focus of the program, the website includes an e-magazine that offers recovery-related news, an advice column on legal matters and reader-submitted articles.
He envisions the typical user as an older teen or younger adult. "To appeal to them, we designed it with a gritty look. That, and because most of the recovery center websites feature things like ducks in tranquil ponds," he said. "I understand that they're trying to send a subliminal message of peace, but I wanted to get away from that. It seems disconnected from what [addicts] are going through."
Use of the site is free.
"This is not going to be a lucrative endeavor," he said. "That's not why I'm doing it. I want to expand this into a forum for people in the recovery network. I have a real passion for that."
Keeping on task
Determination is something Rudolph, 31, has in abundance. He's a second-year law student -- in Michigan -- and commutes weekly from his home in Minneapolis in a Honda that just passed 300,000 miles. In September, his life will become even more fragmented when his partner -- Natalie Schultz, who also serves as the website's managing editor -- leaves for Yale to start work on a doctorate in science.
"I'll be spending some time there, too, but we're not selling our condominium in Minneapolis," he said.
Rudolph always has been an overachiever, but not necessarily in a positive way. "A counselor told me that he had never seen someone progress into alcoholism faster than I did," he said. "To show you how twisted I was, I wore that as a badge of honor."
He started drinking when he was 14. He attended Maple Grove High School, "although I don't know if 'attended' is the right word," he said. "I didn't come close to graduating. You needed something like 45 credits to graduate, and I had 11."
He kicked the booze at age 22, then spent a year straightening out his life, including getting a GED before enrolling at Augsburg College. That's when he decided to go to law school. All the lawyer jokes aside, he sees them as heroes.
"When I sobered up, I had some real problems, including a couple of DUIs and a hit-and-run I didn't even remember," he said. "I had spent time in jail. I saw my lawyer as a white knight. You feel utter hopelessness at a time like that, and the lawyers help you get a second chance. I want to be able to go to bat for someone who needs it."
Carol Falkowski, Drug Abuse Strategy Officer for the state's Department of Human Services, hadn't heard about Rudolph's website, but was impressed by its goal. "As long as he's hooking up with the magnet programs for people in recovery, I think it sounds terrific," she said.
Although focused on helping others, Rudolph admits that he will benefit from working on the website.
"It helps me organize my thoughts and makes me more self-aware," he said, two things he credits for maintaining his sobriety. "Working on this helps me while I'm helping other people, which is the circle of life in recovery."
Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392