When it comes to dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, the ongoing support of friends and family is every bit as important as identifying the problem and signing up for treatment. That\u2019s the sentiment of James Patterson, executive director of The Right Step Conroe \u2013 an intensive outpatient treatment facility that is part of the nationally accredited, 20-location The Right Step \u201clive life sober\u201d network. \u201cThere are a lot of supervised programs that offer medical, psychological and emotional support,\u201d Patterson said. \u201cBut outpatient treatment is where the rubber meets the road. At some point, an addict needs to learn how to live in the real world.\u201d And that can be a problem for individuals with a history of drug, alcohol or other addictive behaviors. Family and peer support are key components to helping individuals break the cycle of addiction. Patterson, a recovered alcoholic, was a well-paid oilfield tool specialist until the industry declined in 1983. Faced with economic cutbacks, he went back to school to learn about addiction treatment. \u201cThe pay wasn\u2019t nearly as grand,\u201d he acknowledged, \u201cbut the satisfaction of knowing you\u2019re doing something productive for the community and helping someone is so much greater.\u201d Patterson, in conjunction with The Right Step, facilitates group and individual treatment programs; participates in interventions; provides personal counseling; and serves the corporate business community on drug- and alcohol-related issues in the workplace. He opened the facility in Conroe, Texas two years ago. \u201cOur goal is to be a one-stop shop for addiction resources in Montgomery County,\u201d he said. \u201cIf we can\u2019t provide the help needed, we can refer you to a resource that can.\u201d The biggest misconception about substance abuse and addiction is that many people believe it is a personality flaw. Patterson said research clearly shows addicts have a bio-genetic predisposition to the problem. \u201cIt can certainly be affected by psychological or sociological issues,\u201d he said. \u201cBut genes and heredity play a very real factor in the likelihood an individual will be subject to addictive behaviors.\u201d While The Right Step program has some similarities with the Twelve step program from Alcoholics Anonymous, he said the treatment programs of The Right Step incorporate a broader spectrum of activities and resources, including educational programs, recovery strategies, and the involvement of families and friends \u2013 as well as ongoing support programs for graduates and alumni. Texas, unfortunately, has a poor track record among addiction treatment professionals, Patterson said \u2013 ranking 49th in the U.S., ahead of only Mississippi. \u201cThe attitude in Texas regarding chemical dependency is lock them up rather than offer treatment or counseling,\u201d Patterson said.\u201cFortunately, Montgomery County is ahead of the curve in terms of offering treatment options and alternatives to jail.\u201d That doesn\u2019t mean the area is without problems, however. Teen alcohol abuse is higher than normal in Montgomery County as is the amount of abuse of methamphetamines \u2013particularly in East County, Patterson said. While much of The Right Step\u2019s work is conducted in conjunction with paid insurance support, Patterson\u2019s long-term goal is to establish the Montgomery County Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse as a nonprofit resource for the community \u2013 for addicts, their families, employers and the court system. \u201cUntreated, addiction can destroy lives,\u201d Patterson said. \u201cAs a community, we need to prevent that from happening.\u201d For more information about The Right Step, visit www.rightstep.com or call .