March 28, 2024 at 1:20 p.m.

Join the conversation on recovery

Letter to the editor


To the editor:

I want to share my thoughts on recovery housing as a person impacted by substance use in my family.

I am what is referred to as an adult child of an alcoholic. I spent much of my youth attending recovery meetings with family members and was exposed to lots of individuals who were trying to make a difference in their lives and found that the support of a community could make all the difference in their ability to succeed. I remember how we would pass a list around for each person to write their phone number on to call if there was a need for support. I found it so helpful to understand that my experience was shared by so many others. Often with substance use, there is such a shame and stigma that we are afraid to share our stories. In those settings, there wasn’t shame, instead, there was validation, support and hope. 

As an adult, I have found myself working to serve individuals with substance use disorder (SUD). In this setting, we see the hurt and the trauma that is often experienced and the shame that our patients often feel. We listen and hold space, but often find that when our patients leave us, they return to environments that don’t provide safety, security or even support for a life free from substances. Many of the folks we have been blessed to know have survived the unthinkable but may succumb to their SUD. 

I believe we can and must do better for individuals seeking to improve their lives. 

What really saved me from repeating the behaviors that I learned was understanding that I wasn’t alone and there was hope for me. As we develop plans for recovery housing in Jay County, we are looking for an opportunity to provide a safe and stable environment for someone who has SUD and who desires to have a better life.

Many of those seeking these services must learn the skills needed to live independently within society. These individuals are resilient but may lack skills we take for granted such as finding a job, signing up for services/benefits, budgeting or how to pay bills. They must also learn to manage their symptoms related to their SUD. We ask them to change people, places and things to help them be successful, but often find that they lack options to do so.

What do you do if you have nowhere else to go? What if you don’t have supports other than those you used substances with? What if you only have the clothes on your back? 

Recovery housing is an answer to one of the challenges facing our community. It is not the only answer, but it does provide a space for individuals to being a new life, learn to live in recovery and to develop connections with others who support a life of recovery. 

Often, folks who need the support, simply don’t have it. That is why recovery housing is so important. Not everyone who stops using substances requires that level of care, but often those who have the highest risk find that without safe and stable environments, maintaining sobriety and entering recovery is not feasible. 

While I know that not everyone is willing to help in this work, I would ask you to please don’t cause harm. Your actions and words matter.

As we move forward with these plans, ask questions, educate yourself on facts, attend community forums, be part of the solution but please don’t spread hate, stigma or untruths.

Jay County is a great community with a lot of good people who can make a difference in this work. SUD is a medical condition and as such requires treatment for it to be managed. Judgment and stigma are toxic and harmful to those working to get well.  

SUD does not discriminate and if you are not directly impacted, it is likely that there is someone in your life who has this condition.

I invite you to Join the Conversation — our next community discussion is April 18 at the IU Jay Conference rooms at 6 p.m. 

Jennifer VanSkyock

Program Manager

IU Health Jay Outpatient Behavioral Health


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