Announcing Our New Facility at Eaton!

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Sojourner is proud to announce a new women’s residential facility in Eaton, Ohio!

Check out the following video featuring our new facility.

Successful Open House Event

On October 20th, Sojourner held a widely-attended open house for the new facility.  The center will open for services this December.

The new facility boasts a 24/7 staff. It can host up to 16 women at a time.

New Facility to Help Curb Epidemic

2016 has been a peak year for the heroin epidemic. Cincinnati has definitely been one of the hardest hit cities in the U.S.

We are excited to open this new facility. Each facility that we open helps to lower substance abuse rates, both locally and nationwide.

The new treatment center in Eaton will play a key role in fighting the epidemic.

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Sojourner and Transitional Living Merge

 

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Sojourner Recovery Services is excited and proud to announce we are merging with Transitional Living, Inc., Butler County’s premier community mental health provider. Both nonprofit organizations have over 30 years of experience, so the merged organization will truly be a behavioral health powerhouse in Butler County.

While this merger has many benefits, it most importantly allows Sojourner and Transitional Living to better serve the people of the Butler County region. Today, many people who suffer from addiction also suffer from mental illness (as previously mentioned in this post). Thus, through Sojourner and Transitional Living joining forces, we will have the ability to provide more comprehensive services to this overlapping population, giving them all the tools essential for their recovery.

The newly merged organization will be structured as a parent company with two separate subsidiaries. This form maintains Sojourner and Transitional Living as two individual organizations who will maintain their expertise and brand identity. The newly formed parent company, Community Health Alliance, will take on back-office and community outreach duties for both subsidiary organizations.

Scott Gehring, current CEO of Sojourner, has been named the CEO/President of Community Health Alliance.

This is an exciting time for both agencies, and we look forward to the future of collaborating in serving our community.

 

Mental Health Levy Passes!

 

On last week’s Election Day the people of Butler County voted to pass the Mental Health Renewal Levy! Issue 5 passed without much opposition with 72% of voters in favor.

Mental Health Levy

The passing of the Mental Health Renewal Levy ensures that current funding for mental health services in Butler County continues. According to the Butler County Mental Health Levy, in FY 2014 various Butler County mental health programs served 10,500 people. One portion of these mental health programs are residential services, which helped provide a home for 500 people in 2015. Finally, 100 youths were served by mental health programs geared specifically towards the needs of adolescents. It’s clear the levy funds benefit a large number of people!

Which is appropriate, because a large number of people in the nation have a mental illness. In the United States in 2014, 43.6 million adults — 18.1% of the population — suffered from a mental illness of some sort (reported in SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health). Amazingly, in Ohio, over half of the mental illness population did not receive any mental health treatment/counseling (according to SAMHSA’s 2015 Behavioral Health Barometer for 2015). Over half — that, right there, is why it was so essential for the Butler County Mental Health Renewal Levy to pass. Continuing funding for mental health programs allows more people to receive treatment, which in turn allows these people to live happier, healthier lives.

Here at Sojourner, we are working to treat those with mental health illnesses. Many of our clients who are suffering from substance abuse are also suffering from a mental health illness of some sort. This is known as a co-occurring disorder. According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.9 million people in the United States suffer from both substance abuse disorder and mental illness. The two are often interconnected. So in our treatment facilities we implement both substance abuse treatment services and mental health treatment services. After all, we believe in treating the whole person, not just their alcohol or drug addiction.

So great job Butler County! You are helping to save lives in this community!

The Opposite of Addiction

 

Many people struggle to truly understand the disease of addiction.

In the video below, “Everything You Think You Know about Addiction is Wrong,” Johann Hari takes a new approach in discussing addiction. Check it out.

“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”

Maybe the key to treating addiction is not shutting those who are suffering out, not cutting them off. Maybe the key is addressing their addiction and teaching them the skills to become productive, contributing members of society.

This is the core of Sojourner’s Mission, Vision, and Beliefs. This is what we strive to do every single day.

Drug Abuse in the Long Run

 

Drug abuse is a major problem all across the nation. It’s undeniable and unavoidable. Ohio — especially Butler County — is no exception to this fatal trend. In 2014 alone, the Butler County Coroner’s Office reported 137 deaths by overdose. Seventy-five percent of these deaths were heroin-related.

Over the past several years, Butler County has been proactive in its response to the heroin epidemic. Contributing to this effort, Sojourner has been responding to the needs of the community by opening additional residential facilities and expanding treatment services. We are doing our best to get people out of active substance abuse and into active recovery.

Yet, it is becoming evident that the negative health effects of substance abuse can last long after a person is in recovery. When using drugs, people often share needles, which causes a single needle to enter into multiple people’s bloodstreams and can lead to the spread of transmittable diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV. If an infected person uses a needle, everybody who uses the needle after this person risks also becoming infected. It’s easy to see the danger this poses for those within the community of drug addiction. However, these diseases can also be spread through bodily fluids, meaning transmission can occur through sexual activity with someone who is infected. Meaning an infected woman can pass it on to any children she gives birth to. Meaning even those who have never abused injectable drugs are susceptible to these transmittable diseases.

Focusing on three states bordering Ohio (West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana), USA Today reported on the increased prevalence of transmittable diseases in relation to the increased rate of drug use. It’s no surprise these diseases are becoming more widespread as the heroin epidemic continues. In West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, acute hepatitis B rose 114% between the years of 2009 and 2013, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis B is a transmittable liver infection that can eventually result in cirrhosis or liver cancer. Furthermore, in Scott County, Indiana there were 185 cases of HIV in 2015 — the most in Indiana history. HIV is a transmittable, incurable disease that attacks the immune system. If hepatitis B and HIV are becoming prevalent in our neighboring states, there’s no doubt it’s happening here in Ohio too.

It’s clear that action must be taken to prevent the spread of hepatitis and HIV. Unfortunately, it is not always as straightforward as not sharing needles and intimate contact with someone who is infected. In many cases, people who have hepatitis or HIV don’t show symptoms until several years after they have contracted the disease. Thus, a person with hepatitis or HIV may not even be aware they have it. So to avoid contracting transmittable diseases, always act with a “better safe than sorry” state of mind. Several actions should be taken to minimize the spread of transmittable diseases:

  • People who are using injectable drugs should always use a clean needle. Although it is not available in Hamilton, many cities (including Cincinnati) offer a needle exchange program, where people can exchange their dirty needles for clean ones.
  • Use a condom during any sort of sexual activity.
  • Get the hepatitis B vaccination. A one-time vaccination prevents the contraction of the disease.

Although it is possible to minimize the spreading of hepatitis and HIV, there is no cure for those who are already infected. The heroin epidemic has already led these diseases to leave notable, long-lasting impressions on the people of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Even if the national crisis of drug abuse tapers off, the HIV and hepatitis are going to stick around for the long run. This is something that will affect future generations. The heroin epidemic is not something that is just going to pass through — it is going to leave death, disease, and destruction in its wake.

This is why substance abuse treatment, prevention, and education is critical.

Staff Appreciation

 

Sojourner appreciates its staff. We recognize the challenges their tasked with in counseling our clients struggling with addiction and mental health. Every day we see our coworkers go above and beyond in exhibiting compassion, patience, strength, hard work, motivation, willpower, inspiration, care. You get it. Today, we take some extra time to appreciate Darryle Short, our Director of Staff Development.

Darryle was recently recognized by Journal News reporter Rick McCrabb for being one of the most intriguing people of 2015. In the article, “Reporter Rick McCrabb Presents ‘Most Intriguing People of the Year,'” McCrabb writes:

“‘Every wonderful thing’

The first time I heard Darryle Short speak during a United Way breakfast, I knew I had to interview him.

We sat down in the office at Sojourner Recovery Services in Hamilton, and for more about an hour, he told his amazing story from being homeless to his journey of being sober for 18 years.

He said that on Dec. 27, 1997 he was hiding from the winter weather under the West Middletown bridge — a hideout for the homeless — with all his possessions: a trash bag full of clothes and a 19-inch cable ready TV in case he could watch ESPN where he spent the night.

He closed his eyes for a second, then a large TV appeared on an I-beam under the bridge. His life flashed before him.

It was the G version of his R-rated life.

‘Every wonderful thing that ever happened to me,’ Short explained. ‘Not the trauma, nor the abuse, none of that.’

He eventually reconnected with his mother and stepfather, earned his GED at Middletown High School, and paid off the $77,000 in child support he owed in Butler, Warren and Preble counties. He works as director of staff development at Sojourner, the same place where he became sober, met and married his wife, and started as a resident assistant.”

Darryle Short is the physical embodiment of Sojourner’s Mission, Vision, and Beliefs. We sure are lucky to have him!

For McCrabb’s full article, click here.

MAMAS for Mamas

 

The holiday season is over, the new year is underway, and the temperatures are beginning to drop. This time of year can be tough. It’s cold and lonely and the winter months seem to drag on for forever. But the new year is also an opportunity to have a better year — to be a better you. 2016 has the potential to be the best and most exciting, life-changing year yet. Sojourner wants it to be, and we want to help. With one new program already launched, we are actively working toward making 2016 a great year for the Butler County region.

A few weeks ago, community leaders gathered in Hamilton to announce the new Butler County Motherhood and Maternity Addiction Services (MAMAS) program. MAMAS was created to serve pregnant women who are suffering from addiction and their families. The development of MAMAS was a joint venture by several Butler County entities, including, but not limited to, County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter, Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services Board (BCMHARS), Butler County Department of Job and Family Services, Supports to Encourage Low Income Families (SELF), Ohio Means Jobs (OMJ), and Sojourner Recovery Services. The unprecedented collaboration of these organizations allows MAMAS to fill traditional holes in services — such as education, employment, childcare, and housing — to be a truly comprehensive program.

Typically, women in the MAMAS program will begin treatment in a Sojourner residential program to treat their addiction. After they successfully leave our residential program, they and their children will have the option to move into a transitional housing unit, at no charge to them — thanks to a partnership between Sojourner and Butler County. Throughout this entire process, the women will have the opportunity to work or earn an education. Furthermore, each woman will be assigned a case manager to help them navigate and utilize the resources available to them. The aim of MAMAS is to give women the skills and resources they need in order to be wonderful mamas.

With the MAMAS program already launched, Sojourner would like to say 2016 is off to a pretty good start! However, we are not satisfied. We plan to devote the rest of 2016 to saving lives, fostering hope, and strengthening the communities of the Butler County region.

The Fentanyl Trend

 

In recent months, we have all seen the impact the heroin epidemic has had on the United States, particularly on Butler County. Some of us have witnessed it first-hand, others have learned about it from the media — but all of us are aware of the dangers of the heroin epidemic. Well recently there has been an added concern to this epidemic: fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a prescription drug that “is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, or to manage pain after surgery,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Like heroin, fentanyl is an opiate. Thus, like heroin, fentanyl can produce effects of euphoria and relaxation in a person.

Terrifyingly, fentanyl has proven to be more deadly than heroin. In a September 24 press release, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported fentanyl to be “30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.” Thus, fentanyl is often mixed with heroin in order to achieve more significant (and more deadly) effects. In Ohio in 2014 there were 502 deaths related to fentanyl overdoses, according to the ODH press release. Comparatively, in 2013, there were 84 instances of fentanyl-related drug overdoses in Ohio, as shown in ODH’s “2014 Ohio Drug Overdose Preliminary Data: General Findings.” This drastic increase in death proves that fentanyl abuse is not something to be taken lightly.

The government of Ohio is certainly taking the threat of fentanyl seriously. The ODH press release states, “Ohio is working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fully analyze Ohio’s fentanyl-related drug overdose data so that local and state officials, law enforcement and doctors better understand the nature of the fentanyl problem in Ohio and how to address it.”

The Ohio government has also published an outline of specific actions they are going to take to fight the rise in fentanyl use. One such action is investing $1 million over the course of two years toward increasing the availability of naloxone, which is an opiate antagonist used when people overdose. Other government plans include reaching out to health professionals, launching a public awareness campaign, and maintaining good communication between drug task forces.

While the government has plans laid out, what can we, as normal citizens, do to help? Sojourner believes in the power of prevention education. Making yourself and others aware of the fentanyl trend is a step in the right direction. So I invite you to take a minute to read up on fentanyl through the links provided above; familiarize yourself with an issue in your community. Knowledge is power.

Thanksgiving Traditions

 

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Sojourner wishes you and yours a happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of the most prominent and long-standing traditions we have in the United States. It’s a day many of us spend with our families eating food, watching football, and being thankful for all that we have. For some, the Thanksgiving tradition of “being thankful” comes easily: thankful for family, thankful for friends, thankful for a good job, thankful for a nice home. Some of us get so caught up in being thankful for everything we have that we forget to consider there are many who do not have any of this.

Oftentimes, new Sojourner clients do not feel they have anything to be thankful for. Their addictions ruined their lives. It led them to make wrong decisions, mismanage priorities, and use poor judgment. In turn, these actions caused weakened family relations, an alienation of friends, and financial struggles. Sojourner’s goal is to help clients right these wrongs.

Along with treating clients’ addictions, Sojourner looks at the bigger picture of helping repair clients’ lives. We work with clients to strengthen their family bonds by providing residential facilities with onsite childcare and hosting family group sessions. We help clients to be financially stable by offering GED classes, offering job skills training, and encouraging them to apply for jobs. Sojourner’s mission, vision, and beliefs extend far beyond an individual’s short-term sobriety. We want our clients to see that they do have something to be thankful for.

Tomorrow, while you are being thankful for all that you have, be truly thankful. There are some in your community who are not so fortunate.

At Sojourner, we are truly thankful for recovery.

Race for Recovery

 

Thank you to all who came out on September 19 to support Sojourner in the 5k Race for Recovery! The event brought together roughly 300 people in the fight against the disease of addiction. Sojourner employees had a great day enjoying the 5k and 1k festivities with family, friends, and coworkers. We hope you did to! Following are a few pictures captured from the Race for Recovery.

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Funds raised through the 5k are contributing to supplying each Sojourner residential client with a Basket of Hope containing new bedding, a towel, a journal, and other personal items. Your contribution is ensuring a smoother, more pleasant transition for future Sojourner clients. Every little bit helps on the road to recovery.

Link to Race for Recovery results: https://www.runningtime.net/Races/Sojourner/Results.htm