Unique addiction treatment house manager program holds great promise

The Republic’s Mark Webber reported last week on a development that has the potential to be a game-changer for people recovering from addiction in our area, state, and really across the nation.

“What could be the country’s first educational apprenticeship program for house managers at addiction recovery houses will be established in Columbus,” Webber wrote. The news was announced by the Southeast Indiana Workforce Investment Board, which offers career training and employment services for residents in Bartholomew, Decatur, Dearborn, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Ohio, Ripley & Switzerland counties.

Thanks to a $500,000 federal grant, this apprenticeship program will allow participants “who successfully complete one year of training to achieve certification as a Recovery Residence House Manager,” Webber reported.

There is a clear need for these professionals, and this local program funded through the American Rescue Plan will involve community stakeholders including the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP), Work One and Ivy Tech Community College, ASAP director Sherri Jewett said.

The Republic has long advocated for services to help people who seek help in breaking the grip of addiction. Anecdotally, we also have heard from several people who have shared their stories of overcoming addiction and now feel a profound desire to give back and help others do the same.

This program addresses both of those needs. It’s a wise use of public money to invest in people who are committed to doing the hard work required to overcome addiction. It’s also a novel program that could serve as a model to be replicated elsewhere, Webber reported.

“The workforce investment board will partner with Mental Health America of Indiana for the initiative to improve the regional substance abuse recovery system by building a peer recovery network,” he wrote. “Organizers say the peer recovery system is a good career fit for those in recovery who want to help others through their recovery journey.

House managers are critically important because they are responsible for building a culture of recovery, as well as ensuring that participants get the support needed to maintain their sobriety, Jewett said. And those who have successfully recovered from addiction are ideal candidates for this training.

In short, they know the drill, having been through it. The responsibilities of a house manager include administering drug screens, assigning housekeeping chores, making sure those in recovery make their court dates and more.

“When asked what she considered the ideal candidate, (Jewitt) said it should be someone in recovery long enough to understand some of the pitfalls and danger areas,” Webber wrote. “The house manager should also be able to recognize some behaviors that may indicate a person is beginning to struggle, and understand how to address those behaviors.

“It’s really someone who is in tune with the residents,” she said.

Stakeholders in our community have taken an all-hands approach to confronting our addiction epidemic. This program offers an ambitious and inventive new way of helping those who want to overcome addiction, as well as those who have done so.