Home is where your story begins

Recovery home technician Denise Johnson cuts apples and chats with residents at Marlowe House in Rockford.

On a quiet October afternoon, Rosecrance Marlowe House taught life skills to teenagers in subtle ways.

Girls chatted with staff about school in the kitchen while snacking on fruit. Laughter emitted from two girls in the living room listening to stand-up comedy on a digital music player.

One girl wrote in a journal and another shared the dining room table using her paint-covered fingertips to finish artwork.

These seemingly normal, everyday activities teach the 14 girls who live at Marlowe how to spend their time productively instead of using and abusing drugs and alcohol. They share the common bond of substance abuse and spent time as inpatients being treated for addiction.

The Rockford home is crucial to their recovery journeys because time spent there
helps them learn how to be independent before transitioning back into the “real world.”

Rosecrance’s foray into recovery home programming dates back nearly two decades. Today the organization runs two recovery homes for adolescent male and female clients and a co-ed home for adults and single parents with children in Rockford.

To support Rosecrance services in McHenry County, recovery homes for men and women opened in October in Woodstock, and plans are in the works to open a collegiate recovery home in Chicago.

Rosecrance President/CEO Philip Eaton said safe, dignified housing helps strengthen an individual’s opportunity for lasting recovery.

“The principle of the successful operation of a recovery home is clearly structure and
accountability, linked very tightly with a commitment to the 12 steps,” Eaton said. “Absent those three, recovery homes are just housing.

“Stability is essential, whether it is a teen trying to learn what it is to be an adult or a young adult preparing for a career or higher education, or if it’s a mom with a little baby with DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) looking over her shoulder. It’s a tough time for people in that transition. The Rosecrance recovery homes provide that opportunity to move on.”

Recovery comes home

Rosecrance’s recovery home program started in 1996, when the organization received a federal grant through the city of Rockford to offer Project HomeBase. The program provided transitional housing and treatment services for 10 homeless mothers and their children.

HomeBase is now known as Greendale Recovery House, a 10-unit apartment complex for adults and single parents with children. Greendale is near the Rosecrance Harrison Campus, which offers easy access to services through the adult treatment program.

Greendale removes a barrier to safe and supportive housing, an obstacle that can often trigger relapse for adult clients, said Denita Lynde, Rosecrance’s director of housing. It differs from a traditional halfway house in that it provides 24-hour support through outpatient counseling, relapse prevention, 12-step meetings, supervision and by helping residents learn life skills such as interviewing, budgeting and time management.

A Rosecrance Marlowe House resident reads in the second-floor sitting room of the home.

Monarch House, a licensed recovery home for 10 female adolescent clients, opened in 1997. The work was groundbreaking back then and still is today, as Rosecrance is the only organization in the state to operate a recovery home for teen girls.

Sullivan House, a recovery home for 14 girls, opened in 2001, and the residents of Sullivan moved into the renovated Hillman House in 2002. The two homes operated simultaneously until the newly built Marlowe House opened in 2008.

In 2009, Hillman’s interior was renovated and converted for use by adolescent boys instead of girls.

The average age of a Hillman or Marlowe resident is 17. While many hail from Chicago and Northern Illinois, teens come to the recovery homes from across the country. About 80 percent of clients move to the homes after completing inpatient treatment at the nearby Griffin Williamson Campus. Rosecrance also accepts teens into the program from other inpatient programs.

Lynde said Rosecrance specializes in the treatment of adolescents, which many other facilities avoid.

“Kids are hard. They’re emotional, they’re impulsive, behavioral. Some people don’t always know how to deal with kids. I find it really rewarding to watch them change and make great strides within their lives,” Lynde said.

Expansion in McHenry County

Men and women ages 18 and older have new transitional housing options in Woodstock, a recovery home program overseen by Rosecrance’s office in McHenry County.

Rosecrance renovated two duplexes for 16 recovery housing beds total. The homes opened in October.

Chris Gleason, Rosecrance’s director of McHenry County services, said clients likely will live in the homes about six to nine months. Programming will mirror services provided at Greendale in Rockford.

“It’s really an opportunity for them to apply the recovery skills they learned in treatment and give them a supportive, sober environment in which to practice that,” Gleason said.

Rosecrance opened its office in McHenry two years ago and started offering services in January 2014 in Crystal Lake. The recovery homes are a natural complement to the
outpatient substance abuse and mental health services available in McHenry County. Rosecrance hired five new employees to staff the homes.

College and recovery combine 

Rosecrance will strengthen its ties to the Chicago community by opening a new coed collegiate recovery residence in the city. Fundraising is underway for the project, and staff is working to secure a location for the home.

The mission is to help young adults in recovery by providing sober living and creating a like-minded community, said Chris Yadron, Rosecrance’s director of Chicago recovery services.

The collegiate recovery home will be a sober living residence for people ages 18 to 26 who are either attending college or who intend to enroll in college. Residents may attend any academic institution.

This program will fill a need among college-age young adults faced with the challenges of maintaining recovery in the typical college environment plagued by binge-drinking and exceedingly high levels of drug use compared to other age groups. Residents must have completed a treatment program, be in recovery and be practicing a 12-step program.

“Substance abuse has an extremely significant impact in terms of impeding development,” Yadron said. “It’s important to establish positive, healthy relationships in young adulthood. When many of their peers are abusing drugs and alcohol, young adults in recovery can feel a strong sense of alienation being different from their peers and can struggle to form relationships.

“Recovery housing can remove that stigma and create a community built around sobriety principles.”

Rosecrance’s vision is to offer a collegiate recovery residence and integrated behavioral health clinic in Chicago. The clinic will offer psychiatric care, individual and family counseling, and intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse or dual diagnosis disorders.

Written by Melissa Westphal.

This story is featured in the winter 2014 edition of Reach. Click here to read the issue.