JD: Louie’s House is now a working program, meaning that within the first 30 to 90 days our guys are required to find employment. The purpose of this is so that they can start paying for their own personal items - things such as cigarettes, toiletries, and so on - and also to integrate them into paying for a portion of their treatment, which allows for our patients to be personally invested. With a working program, slightly less structure than the old school Louie’s House is necessary since residents must work out in the community fairly early on in their sobriety. Jobs, however, must be approved and should work with our group counseling and 12-step recovery meeting schedule. Moreover, the job must be conducive to the resident’s overall sobriety – it must be a safe environment. Patients at Louie’s House still engage in group therapy, one-on-one counseling, peer-led groups and accountability. I am the Program Manager and the Counselor, but we also have a House Manager to hold the residents accountable on nights and weekends when I am off property. On a side note, Louie’s House has received a huge upgrade and is now located in the old 5,500 square foot Mooney Family home located near Willingway, which Dr. John and Dot had custom built in 1981.
TC: How is Louie’s different from other working programs?
JD: There is definitely a higher level of clinical care at Louie’s than your average working program. Generally, you see counselor-led process groups once a week, or even every other week. A lot of other working programs will have a counselor
available, but one-on-one sessions are not held regularly. Louie’s House, however, has two counselor-led process groups
a week, along with mandatory individual counseling sessions. We also have a significant number of peer-led groups within the house, so clinically it is more intense than most working programs.
TC: What does the ideal Louie’s House client look like?
JD: Louie’s House tends to have a lot of success with male alcoholics and addicts that have criminal histories and current legal issues, a history of multiple treatments and relapses, attitude problems and significant issues with authority figures. Our guys must be able to function in the community, so they cannot pose a danger to themselves or others and anger management problems must be minor. We work with those cases where the individual does not have a great chance for recovery - the odds are against them. Oftentimes, not even their families would bet on them and in many instances they’ve been deemed hopeless. Our clients are alcoholics and addicts that need to work in order to develop life skills.
TC: How is a working program therapeutically beneficial?
JD: Part of going through extended treatment is learning how to live life sober – accountability, facing life on its own terms, the practical application of a 12-step program on a daily basis. The other piece is acquiring life skills – how to budget money, maintaining employment, and what it means to be a responsible member of the community. Many of these life skills can be learned through working. When we come to treatment, many of us are used to calling out of work or not showing up. In our program that is simply not allowed – you
must practice a good work ethic. Although Louie’s is a working program, employment is considered a privilege that can be taken away at any point as a major consequence.
Additional therapeutic benefits include a sense of responsibility – the residents buy into their treatment. They will see the need for a job because if they would like to purchase items or pay their bills, they must be gainfully employed. It also teaches our residents to take what they learn in the house and use it in the community and to also develop relationships outside of the house with supportive co-workers. When our guys are hired and begin purchasing personal items, contributing towards their treatment, or starting the process of paying off old debts, it allows them to build self-esteem. This is huge for our guys, who often come in the doors loathing themselves.
TC: What is Broad 90 and how is it different from other male extended treatment programs in Willingway’s continuum of care?
JD: Broad 90 is a 90-day program for men suffering from alcoholism or addiction and is more intensive than Willingway’s other extended treatment options. It is very clinically driven - patients go to Willingway Outpatient four evenings a week, through which they participate in weekly counseling sessions. Additionally, they attend groups within the house during the week. The program is no more than 90 days and has been described as a “booster shot” for recovery, focusing on self-awareness, relapse prevention, alcohol and drug/family relationship histories, and 12-step recovery. Patients do not seek employment while under our care in this program since it is so short, but they are able to do volunteer work within the Statesboro community. There is also the option of moving to one of our male ¾ houses upon completion of the program, if the graduate needs a little extra time in a structured, safe environment. Broad 90 residents get the same care that Willingway’s Inpatient Program offers, but in a home-like environment. When a patient graduates they should have a foundation of knowledge about the disease of alcoholism and addiction and some practice of a 12-step recovery program in their daily lives.
TC: What does the ideal Broad 90 client look like?
JD: Men that are appropriate for Broad 90 are generally alcoholics/addicts that are highly motivated and have a deep desire to get and stay sober, have the ability to function in the community and already have a multitude of life skills. These are men that have not gone so far down the scale that they need a year or two of treatment in a highly structured environment, individuals that just need a little more time than what inpatient treatment offers.
Residents of Broad 90 typically have a very supportive home environment. In other words, if someone has a supportive family and network of friends, they usually do not have as intense long-term needs as someone who might have extremely toxic relationships, no support system and lots of damage in their life resulting from their drinking and drug usage. The men in Broad 90 tend to have a positive environment to which they may return.
TC: What do you love the most about running Louie’s House and Broad 90?
JD: My favorite part is the patients that should be dead a thousand times over - the really defiant ones, the hopeless cases. They come in and they cause problems, they drive me and their peers crazy, and then, suddenly, they change. It is such a fight and such a process, and a true challenge - the challenge of helping them through that initial period where they want to leave most of the time, and you talk them off the ledge, and you talk them out of hating themselves, you push them to succeed and to gain self-esteem, you get real and vulnerable with them and develop an authentic relationship. When they start to do all the stuff that is being suggested to them, and they begin to internalize everything, I suppose that’s when I feel as though I’m making some kind of a difference. But it’s not just me making the difference, it’s every little piece, it’s them putting the work in, the community, 12-step recovery, their peers, the graduates. I get to be a part of something bigger than myself. I get to be a part of someone else’s process, the same process that I went through, and I know how much that means.
TC: What’s the hardest part?
JD: The ones that die. That’s the worst part. And it’s a reality – a hard, difficult reality. I’ve seen at least 100 people I was close with, all under the age of 40, die from addiction. That’s not including the people with whom I was merely acquainted. It’s heartbreaking.
TC: Would you care to share with us how going through an extended treatment working program strengthened your recovery?
JD: I was actually mandated through the court system to go to treatment at Willingway – it was this or jail. I had no intention of staying sober –
at all. But I did not want to be incarcerated, so I came to Willingway and something incredible happened - I found a little bit of hope. From there they recommended that I enter a working program in Brunswick, GA called Doc’s Place, but, yet again, the true reason I agreed to go was because I did not want to go to jail. I arrived on their doorstep saying, “Ninety days and I’m outta here!” In those 90 days I got so miserable without drugs and alcohol that I finally began accepting the help that was being offered to me. My plan was to give the program my all so that in 6 months I could say, “Look - I tried and it didn’t work. Thanks for nothing, I’m gone.” I truly believed that it could never work for someone like me.
Fast forward 18 months and I am sober, a Doc’s graduate, and working there as the Assistant Program Director - and later on as the Program Director, which I did for 6 ½ years. Prior to coming to treatment, I had been paying my own way for a long time. I always had a job and I didn’t think that I needed anyone to tell me what to do because I had been surviving for years. In fact, I was homeless for 6 years in Atlanta with no help, nor did I ever ask for help. My family didn’t even know I was homeless, I was so good at hiding everything. So being stuck in one place for a period of time, that 18 months, not a day less, I needed that. I needed to be stuck somewhere, hearing the same things, doing the same things, developing routines and actually practicing a recovery program while working, while being responsible. I believe that it is absolutely beneficial for the appropriate person, but if I had gone through a long term program where the residents do not work and mainly engage in counseling, I never would have made it. Counselors were not able to make an impact on me or my life at that time because I was such a sketchy person. I would say whatever you wanted to hear. I needed to work and actually get that living-life-sober experience. I had to practice it out there in the work field and in the community.
Many thanks to Jonathon for taking the time to sit down with
The Chandelier and answer our myriad of questions. We look forward to watching your programs grow and evolve.