Providing Oasis for recovering addicts

By Haeyoun Park
Anaheim Bulletin Newspaper
September 16, 1999

Recovering alcoholic Jim Antonowitsch (Owner of Oasis Treatment Center) may never recover from the pain he suffers from losing his only son, Mark, in a fatal car accident last October.

An ironic tragedy hit Antonowitsch and his wife Kathleen when Marks motorcycle collided with a car, whose driver tested positive for cocaine consumption on the day of the accident.

“My wife and I have been treating drug and alcohol users for 10 years and then to have a drug addict kill our own son is even more painful” Antonowitsch said.

In the last 10 years, Antonowitsch as helped more than 5,000 alcoholics and drug addicts fight their disease at the Oasis Treatment Center, 222 West Ball Road.

After months of battling in court, Antonowitsch says his family has not yet received justice from his sons death. Antonowitsch and his wife want the other driver to be treated in a rehabilitation center for drug use.

“Unless he gets treatment, there is no way he will stop,” Antonowitsch says “There’s only one way out of this disease and its through a program.”

Alcohol and drug addiction hits thousands of people of all ages and socioeconomic class. It’s not just for the low life like many people think, says Antonowitsch, who runs the center with his wife.

Antonowitsch says he was a millionaire landscape contractor when he began drinking himself “nearly to death” about four decades ago. He is now 17 years sober.

Despite his painful loss, Antonowitsch is determined to continue his 90-day treatment program, which he says has an 85% success rate.

“I’ve had people who’d had 10 to 15 treatments and this is their last treatment” Antonowitsch said. “A combination of spirituality and love is better than any education.

“Their emphasis here is on the whole person and you can feel a lot of love,” said a former investment banker who asked only to be identified as Chris. Chris has been at the center for 2.5 weeks.

The Oasis Center is run entirely by former addicts and alcoholics, who understand what the new patients are going through.

“I know the addiction because of my own addiction.” Antonowitsch said.

The first 30 days of treatment is an in-patient care program that includes therapy sessions, individual counseling and recreation. Patients are then encouraged to return to work or find a job during the second phase. When residents reach the final phase they move to one of the five sober-living houses spread across the city and become more independent.

Patients are welcome to stay up to a year and often visit after they graduate from the entire program.

“My belief is that you gradually enter them back into society.” Antonowitsch said.