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

Legalized Marijuana’s Deadly Impact on Teens

 

In 2012 Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Just now, three years later, many negative effects of this choice are being discovered. One of the most concerning is the impact legalization has had on adolescents in Colorado. Although it is illegal for minors to use, CBS4 Denver reported, “over 11 percent of Colorado’s 12 to 17 year-olds use pot.” If we vote to legalize marijuana in Ohio in November, this could be our reality too.

This high rate of teen drug users could partly be due to the media–both social media and advertising media. According to a 7News Denver article, one expert identified YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as social media platforms on which drugs gets advertised as being cool. This is undeniably accurate! Take a minute to think about all the music videos that feature casual drug usage. These videos are practically a celebrity endorsement for marijuana. Also via social media, a teen could see their classmate post about using drugs. Drug use has now gone from being a celebrity habit to a local habit. The bottom line is social media normalizes drug use. The more frequently drugs appear on social media, the less dangerous and harmful these drugs seem.

Media sources local to Denver also play a role in glamorizing marijuana, as parents reported to CBS4 they’re worried their children are noticing “messages promoting pot all over town.” If promotional marijuana ads are commonplace to children, it is conceivable that actual marijuana will eventually become commonplace to them as well. We don’t want marijuana to be commonplace with anybody, nonetheless with minors.

When people become addicted to drugs, these drugs become their coping mechanism. Every time they have an issue, they turn to drugs rather than facing the actual problem. However, drug use just leads to more issues–family relation and friendship tensions, financial problems, health concerns. In turn, these issues lead to more drug use. It’s a never-ending cycle. It’s tragic. It’s even more tragic that social media and advertising in Colorado encourages this cycle to begin at a young age.

At Sojourner, it’s our goal to break the cycle for our clients of all ages. Sojourner provides immediate, short-term drug treatment, but we also provide long-term support through teaching clients coping skills to face their problems in a healthy manner.

Our goal is to end the cycle of drug use, not perpetuate it. So come November, we strongly urge you to vote against the legalization of marijuana. Vote no to Issue 3.

Another Place to Call Home

 

Sojourner is proud to announce the opening of our new women’s residential treatment facility in Hamilton! The 16-bed facility opened its doors to new clients this past Monday. Eventually, this will be the home to 16 women:

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We understand that many of the women coming into Sojourner’s treatment program have a stable, permanent home; however, this is unfortunately not the reality for all clients. Either way, we want our clients to look at their residential facility as a home of sorts. We believe a safe and comfortable living environment is conducive to the treatment process. We do our best to seamlessly take care of the little things, so clients can be focused on and committed to their treatment goals. That is why all Sojourner residential clients receive a Basket of Hope upon moving into their new home. This basket contains personal items such as new bedding, a towel, and a journal, among other things.

The addition of this facility brings Sojourner to a total of six residential facilities, for a grand total of 88 beds. For a grand total of 88 people receiving 24-hour substance abuse treatment. Eighty-eight people who will have a better life. That’s what really matters.

Opening the new facility has required energy, time, planning, creativity, and patience on behalf of many Sojourner staff members–but isn’t this the way with all great things? We are certain our new facility will continue Sojourner’s tradition of improving lives through effective treatment. Finally, we are proud of our new facility; we hope the community can be too.

Harleys Against Heroin

Thank you, Harleys Against Heroin, for your generous donation of $10,250!

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This summer marked Harleys Against Heroin’s second annual fundraising ride. Founded by Nikki and Keith Patton, Harleys Against Heroin is an organized motorcycle ride with the proceeds going toward battling the heroin epidemic.

Nikki Patton, cofounder of Harleys Against Heroin, with a certificate of appreciation from Sojourner.

Nikki Patton, cofounder of Harleys Against Heroin, with a certificate of appreciation from Sojourner.

Several Sojourner staff members attended the Harleys Against Heroin event–a few were even on Harleys! They had a blast and said a great time was had by all.

The 2015 Harleys Against Heroin event involved two separate rides–the first one on July 25 and the second one on August 23. These two rides gained a following of 700 bikes and raised a total of $41,000 for the fight against heroin! That’s life-changing. The grand total was split equally among four substance abuse treatment agencies, each one receiving a check for $10,250. Sojourner was fortunate enough to be one of these agencies. We could not be more appreciative to receive this donation and look forward to putting it toward healing our clients and shutting out heroin.

Thank you Harleys Against Heroin, thank you Nikki and Keith Patton, and thank you to everyone who came out to support the event! Your selfless generosity is truly making the world a better place.

For more information on Harleys Against Heroin, visit their Facebook page here.

Are You Ready for Back to School? We Are.

 

The lazy, hot summer days are quickly coming to an end. Gone are lazy weekends spent by the pool. Gone is the excitement of county fairs. The children and teenagers of Butler County are trading in their summer freedom for school, homework, and studying. Heading back to school is a big deal that brings with it big changes.

The start of the school year is a big deal for us too. Sojourner believes in the importance of proactively educating the youth on the dangers of substance abuse. Early intervention is key to ending the terrible phenomenon of substance abuse.

Sojourner’s adolescent programs have been prepped and primed to suit the needs of the upcoming school year. We currently offer two different outpatient adolescent programs: intensive outpatient (IOP) and nonintensive outpatient (NIOP). These programs provide individual and group counseling, focus on the importance of family, and utilize Seven Challenges treatment plan. But most importantly, Sojourner recognizes that each adolescent is different, so we strive to provide individualized treatment that acknowledges and addresses the unique personalities, attributes, skills, and struggles of each client.

Every aspect of Sojourner’s personalized treatment plan is intentional. For example, the counseling gives adolescents a safe place to discuss their personal concerns and struggles. Also, group counseling allows adolescent clients to form a network of supportive, relatable peers.

With the intent of encouraging positive relationships, Sojourner incorporates the client’s family into the treatment program through family counseling and family group sessions. Family counseling creates an open dialogue among family members in a setting that encourages honesty and respect. Similarly, family group sessions educate the entire family unit on drug culture, ensuring everyone has the facts and is on the same page.

Finally, Sojourner uses the evidence-based practice of Seven Challenges to teach adolescents the habits of good decision-making. While this informed decision-making is taught with a focus on abstaining from substance abuse, the skills learned can be applied to any decision the client may be faced with. For more information on Seven Challenges, you can visit their official website at www.sevenchallenges.com.

Sojourner’s adolescent programs aim to stop drug abuse at a young age and give adolescents the necessary tools and strength to be able to say no. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted a study on adolescent drug use in Ohio between 2009 and 2013. SAMHSA found that, per year, an average of 89,000 adolescents reported using drugs within a month from the time they were surveyed. That’s 89,000 teens in just the state of Ohio! Sojourner believes this number should be lower–much lower. So we’re doing our part to help. Furthermore, we have plans to expand our adolescent programs to better meet the needs of the Butler County region and make an even bigger impact on the future of our community.

As the adolescents head back to school (whether or not they are ready), Sojourner is ready to offer a helping hand to those in need.

Out with the Old, in with the New

 

Welcome to Sojourner Recovery Services’ newly renovated website! Thanks for stopping by. Our new website is designed in a no-nonsense, easy-to-read format in order to conveniently provide you with the information you seek–whether it be the services we provide, scheduling an assessment, or the community meeting schedule. As an agency that provides substance abuse and mental health services, we understand the quality of a person’s life can be a time sensitive issue. If you are seeking help for yourself, for a loved one, or just learning more about Sojourner, we welcome you to our website and admire your courage to make a change for the better.

In future blog posts, you can expect to find a variety of topics discussed: updates on Sojourner, local drug trends, effective substance abuse treatment, relevant events in the community, and anything else related to our Mission, Vision, and Beliefs.

Although our website is new, our agency is not.

Sojourner Recovery Services was founded in 1984 as a nonprofit organization in Butler County, OH. The need for a substance abuse treatment facility was clear, and Sojourner took on the challenge. Now, over thirty years later we remain a top provider of comprehensive addiction treatment in the region. One reason Sojourner has been successful for so many years is due to our holistic, individualized treatment approach. Rather than focusing solely on treating a person’s substance abuse issues, we focus on every aspect of the substance abuse issue, such as reasons they began to use, co-occurring mental health issues, and broken family relationships. We focus on healing the entire person. This could not be possible without Sojourner’s compassionate, dedicated staff–the number one reason for our agency’s success. The staff members here truly care about the treatment, health, and success of each and every Sojourner client. We are in this field to save lives.

But like our website, Sojourner is constantly updating.

For example, Sojourner was first founded as a women’s only treatment center. Upon recognizing the need of the community, the agency expanded to provide services for men and adolescents as well. The treatment services provided to clients are a combination of the most up-to-date evidence-based practices. Furthermore, Sojourner regularly conducts training to ensure all staff members have the appropriate skills for working with a population suffering from addiction. Today, most importantly, Sojourner recognizes that drug addiction is not a choice, but a complex illness characterized by intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug cravings, along with compulsive drug seeking and use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences. We are working hard to constantly familiarize ourselves with the newest treatment, so our clients can have the opportunity to lead the sober lives they deserve.

So out with the old website, out with the old stigmas of substance abuse, out with the old binds of drug addiction–in with the new!

Always with our Vision in mind, Save Lives – Foster Hope – Strengthen Communities