Our staff is specially trained to use the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) screening tool. The ASAM criteria is the most widely used and comprehensive set of guidelines for placement, continued stay and transfer/discharge of clients with substance use disorder and co-occurring conditions, and all staff at The Way Back have specialized training in conducting these screenings, as well as utilizing the evidenced based practice of Motivational Interviewing and Relapse Prevention.

 In addition to all of The Way Back’s counseling staff being registered with the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP), we have licensed Marriage and Family Therapists on staff who provide Cognitive and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy. These therapists train the counseling staff to use a strength-based approach to treat clients. The Way Back’s Medical Director oversees the medical component of treatment to ensure that all clients address physical or medical concerns while in a structured and safe environment

Chris started working in the substance use treatment back in 1995 as a volunteer group leader. After completing San Diego City College ‘Alcohol and other Studies’ program he started working as a substance use counselor in 2000. He has worked in all levels of care from outpatient, residential; both for-profit and non-profit programs.. He took over as executive director of The Way Back in May of 2019. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and received his master’s degree in counseling in 2012; he is a licensed marriage and family therapist. “My personal mission for The Way Back is to keep the flavor of Social Model treatment alive while implementing the evidenced-based medical model approach to substance use disorder as outlined in the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery service.” Chris reports that his philosophy is to treat all people with loving kindness. “This is my heart’s work; I love what I do and I love seeing lives transform when people find their way back to their authentic selves.”
 

Board Certified Family Physician and Addiction Specialist with clinical and administrative/directorship experience.

I am passionate about providing an evidence-based and holistic approach to chronic care, preventative medicine, family planning, sexual health, mental health, sports medicine and urgent care issues. While I thrive in one-on-one patient interactions and build rapid, honest rapport, I have also found joy in working on the administrative side of medicine. The ability to lead teams, teach, problem solve and aim to reinvent systems to improve quality of services- are all challenges that I enjoy. Additionally, I am a Board-Certified Addiction Specialist with years of experience in detox/withdrawal management, Medication Assisted Treatment and working in the residential and clinical setting.

Brian Bauers started working in the field of addiction treatment in 2014, working in residential treatment as an intern for Choices in Recovery, and Alpha Project’s Casa Rafael. Brian was hired on at The Way Back as a Substance use disorder counselor and promoted to Director of Operations in April of 2019. Brian’s extensive knowledge of the Drug Medi-Cal organized delivery system has helped The Way Back Inc. marry the old social model framework with the new managed care model of the future, while increasing successful treatment outcomes for the clients The Way Back Inc. serves. “While my focus may be on compliance, and the operations of our facility, my goal is to create an atmosphere of recovery inclusive of all cultural, ethnic, social, and sexual identities. I believe that anyone has the ability and the right to recover from their substance use, and mental health disorders”.

Anthony graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and completed his Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at The California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP), Alliant International University in 2012. Anthony has extensive experience working with the forensic population, as well as individuals with co-occurring (mental health and substance use) disorders. “I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with, learn from, and be mentored by amazing people throughout my career, as well as having the fortune to mentor incredible therapist and counselors. I have also had the privilege to be a part of numerous people’s journey in life toward a better future; assisting them in coping with their mental health and learning how to remain clean and sober.” Anthony incorporates a Narrative Therapy approach, with the mission of helping, “…people re-write, re-author their story in order to gain the power and understanding to write the next chapter in their life”.

Richard started working in the field of substance abuse treatment in 2014. He is an alumnus of The Way Back and was hired shortly after graduation to be maintenance and weekend staff. His desire to work more closely with clients prompted a promotion to evening SUD counselor. In 2019 he was promoted to Program Manager. “I have been clean and sober since 2014 and I’m attending San Diego City College majoring in Alcohol and other Drug Studies to further my knowledge about addiction and recovery.” He states, “I enjoy helping other men on their road to recovery.”

Ralph Ramirez began his internship in the field of addiction treatment in 2018 where he was quickly hired on staff as a Substance Use Disorder Counselor for Tradition One, a residential treatment facility. Ralph’s strong work ethic and unyielding passion for helping others throughout their recovery process was quickly recognized and was then offered a position here at The Way Back. Ralph was hired on at The Way Back as the Lead Substance Use Disorder Counselor and stated, “it a priority to put clients first so that they not only manage their addiction but thrive throughout their recovery.”  Ralph brings a fresh new feel to the clients that stem from his youth as well as incorporating real life experiences that he brings in from growing up in the tough streets of Compton, CA. where drugs and alcohol still run rampant today. “I truly believe in more than just second chances. There is and will always be successes in failures in everyday life. One of my strongest lessons I bring to others going through tough situations in life, especially drug/alcohol addiction, is that we are not defined by our mistakes or failures but by our perseverance to push forward through all the pain and adversity that life throws our way.”

Austen started working in the field of addiction treatment in 2018. Austen battled addiction for over 15 years, being institutionalized in an out of rehabs; Austen is no stranger to the devastating consequences of drug and alcohol addiction. He had to experience and learn how to overcome this disease by getting the help he needed, accepting the help of others has been instrumental in his recovery. Being clean, sober, and healthy since 2016, Austen has the heart and desire to passionately help those struggling what he once was chained down by. As a counselor, Austen brings a refreshing sense of hope and knowledge through experience, strength, and hope to those who feel hopeless. Encouraging them that through resilience, there is a way back to living life with joy, addiction free.