Drug Free group introduces first steps to Recovery House

Authored by Jim Langham on Feb 10, 2014

Drug Free Adams County (formerly Substance Abuse Awareness Council) recently met to begin discussion with law enforcement and social agencies concerning the establishment of a recovery house in Adams County.
The primary speaker at the meeting was Mike Maxson, who has been the executive director of the Serenity House, a cluster of five recovery houses located in northern Indiana.
“We have three houses in Auburn and two in Warsaw,” said Maxson to the group which met at Adams Memorial Hospital in Decatur. “We have been successful with all types of substances, including meth. It’s not that hard, if you know what you are doing. It’s impossible if you don’t know.
“What happens when they get in the house? They get a job, they start to pay taxes, they start to recover and don’t buy stuff anymore. After a year, they go back into society,” noted Maxson. “If they relapse, it is usually for a short time because they really don’t want to do that anymore.”
Maxson said that violators get nothing if they are sent to the Department of Corrections. If they go to a recovery house, they get the opportunity to rebuild their lives and become freed from their problem.
“Drug addiction is an illness,” Maxson said. “The behavior is inexcusable, so they work to get that stopped. They are aware of the church commandments. They know all of that. They don’t understand where all of the negatives come from. They don’t get it. They feel like everyone is out to get them.”
Maxson explained that a recovery house is a two tier system. The first six months they are taken away from the people and influences that got them to consume alcohol or do drugs.
After six months, they move to a second house where they start to work their way back to society.
Concerning women, Maxson noted that most women that get into recovery are between 20 and 24 years of age.
“They often get into this a little later than men. Sometimes they are a little more damaged,” observed Maxson. “We have to teach them from the get-go how to manage their lives.”
Maxson said that clients are charged $125 a week to stay at the house. It gives them an opportunity to work and pay for their keep. Recovery home officials hope that the responsibility of paying to stay will force them to take their treatment and program more seriously.
“We deal with all kinds of substances. We had a person come down from Chicago. Another person came up from Dayton,” Maxson said.
“Recovery rates are good. You’re not going to get everyone to recover, but the board of directors is very visionary,” observed Maxson.
“We keep them busy so they do not have idle time,” continued Maxson. “In a four-year frame, I would guess that they have an 80 percent success rate. Some relapse for a short time. Drug use is an illness; judges or probation workers are contacted if there is an issue.”
Maxson said that normal recovery time usually ranges from nine months to 18 months. He said that after nine months the recovery rate goes up. He noted that it is best to have the house in an urban setting because many of those there won’t have access to transportation to town. Maxson also recommended doing the men’s house first and get it off the ground, then the women.
Social workers attending said that the only option for cases coming in for residential replacement is to send them to Fort Wayne, but that makes things difficult to jump through some of the hoops of being able to check on clients in another county as often as is needed.
Maxson said that the agency partners with the Bowen Center for mental health issues. The situation involving the client determines whether Bowen Center counselors go to the home or clients are taken to the center.
Kelly Sickafoose, executive director of Drug Free Adams County stated that the next major step would be that of educating the community on the need for a recovery house in Adams County.

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