Recovery center in Chicago offers clients hope
New Hope Recovery Center provides variety of options for treating addictions
SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE / Samantha Cleaver
In December, after years of alcohol and cocaine abuse, Jim sat alone in his St. Charles home, afraid to leave the house even to pick up the mail.
"I was feeling despair," said Jim, who asked that his last name not be used. Addiction "had become so normal. I started to accept it [and felt] that nothing was ever going to change."
His family had urged him to seek help many times before, but this time -- when his aunt offered to find a counseling program -- he agreed. His aunt found New Hope Recovery Center, the Chicago-based program that has recently expanded to the western suburbs. Within days, Cole was meeting with a counselor.
New Hope was started in Lincoln Park Hospital in 2003 by Jake Epperly, a counselor who had recovered from alcoholism in the late 1970s. In October 2008 when the hospital closed, New Hope moved to a nearby office space. Today, clients live in apartments around the neighborhood and come to the center for treatment during the day or after work.
The New Hope intervention starts with a 28-day inpatient program. Clients spend most of the day together, beginning with breakfast, and attend group therapy and one-on-one counseling sessions, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, massage therapy and yoga at the center. After the 28 days, clients move into the Intensive Outpatient Program, working during the day and attending meetings and counseling sessions at night. After four weeks of the outpatient program, clients come for counseling once a week for a year until they think they're ready to leave the center.
The pivotal first step, though, is making a connection with a counselor who will be the point person for recovery and beyond.
In the Geneva office, Jim's counselor was Gretchen Feinholz, a social worker and program director who was trying to persuade him to start the 28-day program. He signed up for counseling three times a week instead, but admits that didn't stop him from drinking and using cocaine after sessions and on weekends. A few weeks later, he was on another binge and disappeared for days. After he sobered up, he returned to the center.
At first, he didn't sleep. He cried all the time and resisted recovery. But after meeting other addicts, spending time in group and individual counseling and letting his body heal, Jim returned home optimistic.
Epperly has worked as a recovery counselor and program director long enough to have seen trends emerge. More people are using pills instead of heroin, he said. And more young people, especially young women, are coming in for help.
Most of the clients find New Hope online; others come through traditional referral routes -- through employee assistance programs and word of mouth, Epperly said.
"I've worked in the field for 20-some years and I know a lot of people," Epperly said, "and they know that if someone's really motivated and runs out of money, we'll work with them."
As the economy falters, Epperly expects to see more people who are out of work. The center already has expanded into Geneva, but as it continues to expand Epperly would like to include services for people struggling with other addictions like gambling, sex and Internet.
Six weeks into his recovery, Jim has started working in health care, is attending meetings three times a week and is excited about the possibility of going back to school to study bioengineering.
Moving forward, he knows he has the center's support.
"If I stay present and keep in touch with them," he said confidently, "they're not going to let me slide. ... We all know where I've been and they're not going to let me go back there."