By MORGAN MANNS

for the courier

It may start with a pill, a shot or a drink.

Once it begins, it may be hard not to become addicted.

The tri-county area has made a big push to help addicts not only find treatment, but stay on the path to recovery.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties has found the biggest gap in local addiction recovery is, once treatment is completed, that women may not have anywhere to go to continue to foster their sobriety.

“They complete treatment and come out of treatment but they don’t really have anywhere to go,” Mircea Handru, executive director, said. “Maybe they can’t go back to their boyfriend’s house because he’s still using, or they can’t go back to their parent’s house because it’s not a good environment. They want to be able to get on their own two feet, to really turn the corner, but they don’t really have a safe place to stay.”

Tiffin has a 10-bed men’s recovery house but nothing similar for women. And while there are recovery homes located in Sandusky County, Handru said it’s hard to send women that far away because of probation, court dates or distance from children and other family.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board is working to fill that gap.

The board purchased a facility in Tiffin on Jan. 23 to become a women’s recovery house. The two-story residence has 2,630 square feet of living space and will accommodate a maximum of seven women.

A proposal for $120,000 for the project will go before the State Controlling Board today. If approved, the mental health and recovery services board will be reimbursed for the cost of the house.

“It’s just going to be a regular home in the community. It’s not going to be an institution,” Handru said. “We’re really trying to help them in their recovery process and this is a safe place for them to live while in that process.”

There will be an intake process to screen the women before they are allowed to live in the house. Handru said this process will consist of one-on-one time with the women to see where they are in their recovery and how motivated they are to stay drug-free.

Once in the home, they will have a strict list of rules they must follow and requirements they must adhere to, such as random drug testings, a curfew, mandatory treatment and recovery support services, getting a job, paying rent once they get a job and taking care of the house and yard.

In addition, the facility will be monitored around the clock.

“If someone is not motivated for a big change in their lives, this isn’t the house for them,” Handru said. “When you want to turn the page and do a 180-degree change, then this is the house for you.”

The recovery board will be working closely with local businesses to help find these women jobs, as well as local churches to provide ministry and local groups to provide support.

Other programs will be offered to teach skills such as how to interview for a job, how to dress at work, opening a savings account and how to save money.

“There’s going to be a lot of accountability in this home. They’re going to be just like a normal citizen when you own or rent a home,” Handru said. “Our goal is to help these people get back on their feet and be productive citizens and leave addiction behind.”

If the State Controlling Board approves the funds on Monday, Handru said it will cover the cost of the Tiffin facility. The board will use some of its local levy funds for repairs and renovations as well as the beginning general operations of the project.

However, he hopes once the house is up and running, it will be self-funded through rent from clients.

The facility is expected to open July 1 with a possibility of expanding to women with children under the age of 10 in the future.

“We’re really excited to be able to open this house,” Handru said. “It’s going to teach them a lot of skills and give them a safe place to get back on their feet.”

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