Tackling addiction

Published 12:26 am Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spectrum Outreach plans recovery housing for addicts


The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services on Nov. 10 announced a $10 million investment for expanding housing options for recovering addicts.

With Lawrence County in the throes of an addiction epidemic, Spectrum Outreach Services in Ironton plans to capitalize on the state’s investment.

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“Our plan is to acquire a facility and convert a section of it into a business hub and the rest into sober living units,” Andie Leffingwell, development specialist with Spectrum Outreach, said. “We’ve been working since February on getting a place for addicts to live sober because in most cases, 28 days is just not long enough.”

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services estimated the investment would boost the number of beds in Ohio by 660, and director Tracey Plouck said communities that lack recovery housing were given priority.

“What this facility will do is take away addicts’ weaknesses,” Bob Vinson, owner and executive director of Spectrum Outreach, said. “It will not only divert a weakness for substances, but also allow recovering addicts to get outstanding debt such as court costs or child support paid so there’s nothing hanging over their heads that might cause them to revert back to their old ways. That could take as long as two or three years for some people. It allows them to develop skills, get jobs, be part of a support group, reunite with their families and be productive members of the community.”

The facility would, Vinson said, monitor residents instead of placing them on lockdown, and promote abstinence, not medication assisted recovery.

“Once people are clean, everything is not fine,” Vinson said. “We have to instruct them on how to be a constructive citizen. We have to help them learn how to pay bills and grocery shop for their kids; many addicts have never done those things before.”

Aside from relinquishing residents’ addiction to drugs and alcohol and assisting in their acquiring of basic life skills, Vinson said long-term support, job skills, education and drug testing are equally as important.

“For 90-day programs the success rate is 10 percent,” Vinson said. “The only way to successfully help people recover is long-term support. Twenty years ago everyone was worried because people weren’t going to have basic life skills in the future. Now, the main worry is people aren’t going to have basic sober skills. Recovery housing is a way for addicts to get their lives back after treatment.”

Another facet to Spectrum’s long-term recovery plan is using the planned on-site business hub to employ recovering addicts.

“The business hub is the most positive aspect of the recovery housing plan,” Leffingwell said. “We will promote the businesses located in the hub and in exchange they will hire one or two of the recovering addicts to work there.”

An on-site restaurant will also allow for addicts to integrate with members of the community and law enforcement.

“Addicts being integrated with non-addicts keeps them from feeling less worthy,” Leffingwell said. “Self-worth is a big factor and so much of failure is the simplest things.”

With a high drug-related crime rate, court dockets full of drug offenders and overcrowded jails, Vinson said recovery housing could curb a lot of the problems.

“I don’t see anything else currently working,” he said. “We have to help people and we have to go through the recovery process with them.”

Groups to assist recovering addicts develop basic computer skills and provide transportation have expressed interest in partnering with Spectrum’s sober living endeavor. Case managers will be assigned to residents.

“We have found out through this process that everyone seems open to doing whatever can help,” Vinson said. “By doing this we are giving people long-term treatment and the ability to deal with addiction every day.”