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October 24, 2021

9/28/2021 1:31:00 PM
Recovery Houses helping with sobriety

By Bruce Paull
Iowa County has had a Recovery Pathways Program since May of (2018). This is a part of SWCAP (Southwestern Community Action Program). Kimberly A. Hill has been the Program Director from the beginning. Kimberly and staff, Kiah Hoesly/Kyle Wicks/Sara Blask, are focused on ensuring that the residents in the counties of Green, Grant, Lafayette, Richland, and Iowa have access to support services while living at the Opportunity House. The support services include job skills training, recovery meetings, counseling, peer support, (IOP) Intensive Outpatient Treatment, and if needed, medication-assisted treatment. For people that are trying to cope with addiction and want treatment, the learning to cope with daily living tasks of employment, housing and improving social relationships is very challenging. Kiah Hoesly, the Program Assistant for the Opportunity House works closely with the program participants living in the house.
The original plan was to open two houses in Dodgeville and two in Richland Center. The Opportunity Houses are different from "halfway houses" in that they will not limit a residents stay. It is not a transitional house but rather desired for it to be their home until stable.
In the community of Dodgeville, a recovery house known as the Opportunity House for women opened in 2019. A second Opportunity House for men opened in June of 2020. The woman's house has served 32 woman. The men's house has served 13 men since opening. Both houses are part of a strategy to provide addiction recovery with housing. Many times recovery is impossible unless the living conditions change. This includes the ability to change friends and not being isolated from help. When living in the homes, it is required to attend several meetings per week while they volunteer or work at least part-time. It is also required that you must remain free of substance. Both houses have a Certified Peer Support Specialist. The peer support person is one of the people that the resident works with. A peer support person is someone that has gone through the system and helps others to understand the system. The peer support people are viewing training as an ongoing part of life. Some of this comes from just being reminded of past experiences. Many times the participants just need to keep a schedule, because when they started using, learning stopped, and many times that includes responsibility.
One of the observations of the difference between the men and women in recovery is that women tend to leave sooner than men. The reality is that women have deep feelings of shame and guilt and struggle to separate the two. Women tend to be caregivers for children, parents, grandchildren and others that need help. This all makes it difficult to recognize their own needs. Women are more likely to experience obstacles because of care giving and the gender expectations.
The Recovery Pathway/Opportunity House is part of Wisconsin Association of Sober Housing and the National Alliance of Recovery Housing. Many of these conversations focus on getting some funding for the first 30 to 60 days so participants can focus on recovery. The cost to stay in the Opportunity House is $300 per month.
The Recovery Pathways program is to support through the Opportunity House, and other wraparound services. The goal is successful reintegration into the community for those that have gotten sober and want to remain sober. The Recovery Pathway Program and the UW Population Health Institute has been developing an Opportunity House manual and is an important part of the sustainability of the program. This will give written direction on how the program is facilitated, staffed, and coordinated. Kimberly has developed this program from many hours of training with other coalitions in the five counties and others in Wisconsin. The next closest facility similar to this is over an hour away which makes that an obstacle for recovery.
Nearly two-thirds of residents living in Wisconsin have friends or family members who have struggled with drug problems. The Hidden Valley Community Church in Dodgeville has made the Opportunity Houses the giving focus for the month of September. More information can be received from Kimberly Hill at 608-658-2275 or email k.hill@swcap.org
Let me hold the door for you. I may have never walked a mile in your shoes, but I can see that your soles are worn and your strength is torn under the weight of a story I have never lived before. So let me hold the door for you. After all you've walked through, it is the least I can do!
Morgan Harper Nichols





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