Treasure within: Scavenger hunt, celebration meant to help those battling addiction

Matt Butler, whose debut solo album, "Reckless Son," journaled his battle with addiction and path to recovery, will perform Saturday.

If you go

› What: Pirate Springs Recovery Celebration.› When: 4-9 p.m. Saturday.› Where: Camp Jordan, East Ridge.› Admission: Free.› Phone: 423-476-4860.› Website:› Note: Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.

As a former addict, 30 years clean, Paul Hook understands how the will to stay clean and sober may forever be tempered by a desire for adventure, for cutting loose.

"We are a little bit edgy," he says of recovering addicts. "We like to do nutty stuff. We like to feel that sense of freedom even though we've toned down and act like normal people do."

So when Hook, president and CEO of the Cleveland, Tenn.-based Pirate Springs recovery agency, was asked by the local health department for an idea to raise local awareness of National Recovery Month, he answered with an enthusiastic yes (and perhaps an internal "aye, aye"), and a scavenger hunt was born.

"My last name is Hook," he says. "I'm Capt. Hook. The nonprofit is Pirate Springs. I had been planning a treasure hunt as a fundraiser since we organized a couple of years ago."

Now in its final week, the scavenger hunt will culminate Saturday evening with a day of activities and entertainment at Camp Jordan in East Ridge. The treasure map can be downloaded at or picked up at any of the 20 listed businesses and agencies in Hamilton and Bradley counties. Treasure hunters visit the locations and get the map stamped for credit to win prizes at Saturday's celebration.

photo Bob Perkell
photo Paul Hook

Each stamp on the map is redeemed for a ticket to put in the treasure chest for drawings. Prizes range from a $500 laptop to $50 dinner certificates. Other events this month, which are good for bonus stamps, include a Tuesday night screening of the movie "Generation Found," about Houston's revolutionary fight against youth addiction, and a Saturday morning Yoga for Recovery session, with proceeds going to a foundation that teaches Ashtanga yoga classes in treatment centers.

Saturday night's celebration will feature Bob Perkell (CNN, Showtime, "Last Comic Standing") who bills himself as a recovery comedian, and musician Matt Butler, whose debut solo album, "Reckless Son," journaled his battle with addiction and path to recovery. Other activities include music by local band Mountain Creek House Fire, game booths, food and face painting.

Amid the festivities, the vital work of Pirate Springs and other recovery agencies also will be taking place. There will be an exhibit area for care providers, speakers sharing their recovery experiences and counseling with peer support specialists.

"We'll have the capacity to take people on-site and transport them to rehab," Hook says. "We're going to be telling hard, touching stories. We're telling people there that 'We know you are suffering. We're not there to legislate and incarcerate. Step forward now and take our hand. We're here to help.'"

According to a Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, nearly 21 million Americans, more than the number of people who have all cancers combined, suffer from substance abuse disorders.

Extrapolate from those numbers to family and friends affected, Hook says, and a picture of a society in crisis emerges.

Before he established his nonprofit Pirate Springs, Hook had organized a business, Clean Time, that provides transitional employment for clients in recovery. The work ranges from mobile auto detailing to pressure washing to construction cleanup. Clients earn an income to help them continue in recovery.

"When people come out of rehab or out of jail into a halfway house, the clock is ticking," he says. "They need to pay rent, probation fines, fees to the courts, they might have child support. If you can't find work, two or three weeks in, you give up."

The frustration, the immobility, the feeling of hopelessness, that often means a return to addiction, he says.

But he believes attitudes are beginning to change about the nature of addiction.

"People are realizing more and more that this is a disease. These are not bad people who made bad decisions. These are sick people who made bad choices and got stuck."

Pirate Springs' motto, he explains, is "finding the treasure buried within you, that golden thing inside that gives you hope and a reason to be around. That is the key to recovery."

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.

Treasure map locations

Hamilton County› Massage Envy, 2100 Hamilton Place Blvd. Suite 208, Chattanooga› Massage Envy, 5591 Highway 153 Suite 132, Hixson› Economy Honda, 2135 Chapman Road, Chattanooga› Focus Treatment Center, 7429 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga› Mental Health Cooperative, 801 N. Holtzclaw Ave., No. 101, Chattanooga› YMCA, 7430 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga› YMCA, 4138 Hixson Pike, Chattanooga› YMCA, 301 W. Sixth St., Chattanooga› Bradford Health, 6160 Shallowford Road, No. 103, Chattanooga› Pro X MotorSports, 6101 Mountain View Road, Ooltewah› Frost Knife Store, 6861 Mountain View Road, Ooltewah› Baskin-Robbins, 6690 East Brainerd Rd Chattanooga› Hamilton County Health Department, 921 E. Third St., ChattanoogaBradley County› Chef Carl’s Roadhouse, 3375 Waterlevel Highway, Cleveland› Quizno’s, 2151 Keith St., Cleveland› Baskin-Robbins, 3455 Keith St., Cleveland› Ed’s Cycles 909 Keith St., Cleveland› Mental Health Cooperative, 2544 Dalton Pike SE, Cleveland› Bradley County Health Department, 201 Dooley St., Cleveland› YMCA, 220 Urbane Road NE, Cleveland