Rebuilding Life: Washington County drug rehab center puts patients to work

Published: Jan. 18, 2016 at 3:20 PM EST
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Inside a gymnasium in Willisburg, you will find large boxes piled high with automobile headrests.

At some point during the construction of the headrests, there was a flaw. So, each one sits in a box waiting to be torn apart to start over. That's a job for the men who live at the Isaiah House, which is home to 88 men who are there to get their lives back. It is a religious-based facility for men that takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation.

Johnny Hackworth was sorting through headrests when WKYT's cameras went to visit the re-do, what they call the piles of headrests they are tearing down. Hackworth has been through the treatment and continues to work at the company.

"It just kind of gives you a sense of hope being up here. Knowing that you can work and not have to worry about the stresses of getting high, in general," he explained.

The re-do brings in about $60,000 to $70,000 a year for Isaiah House. They also have a construction company that brings in revenue around $500,000. But the patients gain financial stability, as well. When patients leave Isaiah House, they usually leave with about $3,000 or $4,000 in their pocket.

"It's extremely unusual," said CEO Mark Lapalme. "There's not another treatment program I'm aware of that does that."

But the jobs the men are given is just a piece of the puzzle for Lapalme. The facility spends months treating each part of the patient's life.

"As addicts we are lonely. It takes coming to recovery to realize how lonely we were, and now that we're in recovery, feeling that loneliness lift is a big part of recovery," explained Larry Bartlett, a patient at Isaiah House.

Lapalme said there is "no easy answer" or "easy fix."

"There's no pill you can throw at it and so we've really got to dig in there with them and help them with each and every piece of life that got destroyed by addiction," he said. The facility has attorneys on staff to deal with any legal issues the men may face. They have a clinical staff and classes, including small groups to learn how to be leaders in their communities.

There is a 67 percent success rate for patients. Most stay longer than they expected, once they realize that refocusing their lives is a process that can't be rushed.

"It's not about getting sober here, it's about getting your head on straight," Hackworth said.