EDITORIAL: Isaiah House is saving lives, growing to meet needs

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Isaiah House is the largest faith-based or “Christ-centered” drug treatment and rehab program in Kentucky and serves the entire state.

The mission of the program is “to provide the best possible addiction treatment care” for clients and their families. Isaiah House is not just a religious mission. It is a state-licensed alcohol and other drug entity and a state-licensed behavioral health service organization. It is also one of the few treatment centers in the state to achieve national accreditation by the Kentucky Joint Commission.

The idea is to get clients clean and sober, get them a job, an education, a driver’s license and $2,000 to $7,000 saved up to re-enter the world and start out on their own.

The organization’s Facebook page, and the rest of the internet, are overflowing with testimonies from individuals who credit the treatment they received there — and the program’s religious focus — for saving their lives and transforming them from addicts to flourishing, beneficial members of society.

As with any growing program, there were bumps along the way, but the current program is housed and thriving in Willisburg in Washington County.

But, as addiction has tightened its grip on so many and the opioid crisis has continued to spread, so has the work done by Isaiah House. And they don’t plan to stop growing.

Isaiah House is in the process of purchasing the Golden Leaf Center, formerly the Chaplin School. The plan is to transform the building into two licensed and accredited short-term residential treatment centers.

Mark LaPalme, founder and CEO of Isaiah House and a former addict, also wants to eventually buy Howard’s Metal Sales to provide jobs for the clients — in addition to the businesses and nonprofits that already provide employment for men in the program.

The new facilities would reduce the organization’s waiting list, which has grown to as many as 100 men.

“People are dying on that waiting list,” according to LaPalme. And that’s easy to believe given the sobering rise in overdoses and drug-related fatalities reported in the region in the last few years.

There is a huge need for affordable addiction treatment in Kentucky. Isaiah House accepts Kentucky Medicaid plans, commercial insurance and vouchers. And in addition to having some clients who are self-paid, there is also a program that allows others to donate to sponsor recovery for others.

According to LaPalme, 67 percent of Isaiah House clients are clean and sober after five years. Nationally, he said, 70 percent of drug addicts “re-offend,” but 78 percent of Isaiah House clients don’t. The holistic approach and the spiritual elements of the program are likely the reasons for those successes.

One of the best parts of the Isaiah House plan to expand, second to the increased availability of treatment, is that the Chaplin community is embracing the new facilities with open arms. Residents aren’t put out at having these men in their midst, rather, they’re finding ways to accept them and to make them feel at home.

That is vital to recovery. Addicts are, in most cases, very much in need of acceptance. They’re used to feeling like outsiders. But feeling like they have a purpose and like they belong can be just as important to overcoming addiction as medical treatment and steady employment. Emotional wellbeing is as crucial as physical wellbeing when someone is trying to overcome dependency and move forward from a damaging past.

As Isaiah House continues its mission and to expand, we should all be grateful for the opportunities that will be provided for recovery and the dedication of the facility and the staff it employs.

Whether some of us like to believe it or not, addiction is real. It is claiming lives every day. Some of them are strangers, but they could be any one of us. They could be any one of our friends, any one of our family members. And knowing there are options to help the people we love, or whom any family loves, overcome addiction and go on to lead full, healthy lives, is priceless.