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Drug rehab center to open men’s home

Questions, concerns to be addressed at council meeting

CHESAPEAKE — Representatives from a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation center will address the Chesapeake Village Council tonight to provide information on a men’s home scheduled to open later this year.

Riverside Recovery Services, located on Second Avenue, has been open since Oct. 1 and has provided outpatient drug and alcohol counseling to more than 150 clients. The group recently purchased a home on Riverside Drive, which it will use as a men’s home starting in August.

Amy Smart, the group’s executive director, said they have a staff of 12, including eight counselors and a case manager, and their services go beyond help for addiction.

“We do a little bit of everything,” she said. “Our focus is not just addiction recovery, but the person as a whole.”

She said mental health counseling and job placement are offered, as well as help with housing services and they run a food pantry and clothing closet.

She said the majority of their clients are on Medicaid, but they are expanding to insurance and private payers.

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate,” she said. “It’s not just people on Medicaid.”

Smart is herself a recovery success story. A former addict, she served a five-year sentence in the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville for drug-related convictions. While incarcerated, she participated in therapy and, upon her release in 2011, wanted to make a difference. She moved to Lawrence County three years ago.

“Part of this position is to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

She said all of the staff at Riverside, who are each licensed through the state, has dealt with addiction in their life experience, whether through a personal background or a friend or family member.

“It’s hard not to be touched by addiction today,” she said. “It’s everywhere.”

Smart will be among those attending tonight’s council meeting, where she said she will answer questions from those who have expressed concerns about the men’s home opening.

She said she wants to clear up misconceptions people may have about the facility.

“We’re not here to cause problems. We’re here to help,” she said.

She said the majority of their clients live in the Chesapeake area and that they have brought positive developments into their lives.

“People are getting their kids back and going back to work,” she said.

She said that the house would be staffed 24/7 and that probation officers would do off-duty checks and walkthroughs and there would be extra patrols in the area.

She said there would be no violent offenders or sex offenders housed at the home and that there would be a zero tolerance policy for violence or drugs.

“The first call we would make would be to a probation officer,” she said. “The majority of clients will be court ordered, but, even for those who are not, we would call the law if there was an issue.”

She said those staying at the home would be allowed the medication Vivitrol, which is used to prevent relapses into dependence, or they could abstain, but opioids and synthetic opioids like Suboxone and methadone would not be allowed.

“This would not be a medication assisted treatment program,” she said.

To those who fear it would bring drugs into to the community, she replies, “drugs are already here,” pointing to the number of arrests in the area for possession, trafficking, OVIs and DUIs.

“The problem is already here,” she said. “We’re trying to do something about, to prevent it and be part of the solution.”

The council meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight at Chesapeake Village Hall.