REALM planning graduation ceremony at The Commons

A residential treatment program for male offenders with substance abuse disorder is preparing to graduate a new class late this month.

“REALM has been extremely successful in our community,” said Recovery Specialist Rachel Rohm of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress.

The graduation will be held from noon until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 30 in the first floor Cal Brand meeting room at Columbus City Hall.

There were some reasons for the skepticism about a male equivalent to the highly successful “Women Recovering With a Purpose” (WRAP) program. When socializing with their peers, several men believe they are showing strength by refusing to admit they have a drug or alcohol problem, Rohm said.

“At first, they just want to say ‘Hey, I’ve chosen my life style. I’m a tough guy, and I can do this on my own,’ ” Rohm said. “But it doesn’t take very long to see this isn’t going to be the case.”

Only men who are nonviolent offenders can be accepted into REALM as part of their sentence from a judge. Other requirements include having available space; that the individual is at moderate to high risk to go back to substance abuse; and that no other Community Corrections program can meet their needs.

Keeping participants away from negative influences is considered essential to the success of the program, advocates said. REALM is designed to give those recovering from addiction the support and the ability to overcome barriers that, when faced alone with no direction, can seem impossible, Rohm said.

County officials emphasize that REALM and WRAP are Community Corrections programs, with participants housed during the first half of the program within the Bartholomew County Community Corrections Center. While that facility is located on the south side of the jail building, it is considered separate from the jail.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants in the REALM and WRAP programs usually make progress at their own individual pace. Graduates at the Nov. 30 graduation may have just recently completed the program, or finished it months ago, a program spokesman said.

While participants are given time in REALM to create space between themselves and their chemical dependency, they are able to work on underlying factors such as past trauma, family issues or mental health challenges that may have prevented them from seeking an earlier recovery, Rohm said.

“I have found that the gentlemen who are involved in the REALM program have a very strong sense of community,” Rohm said. “They want to get reconnected with their families.”

ASAP works with the REALM participants closely, often providing those individuals with opportunities for employment, she said.

Those who plan to attend the graduation are asked to RSVP by email at [email protected] – or by phone at 812-565-5904 no later than Friday.