A Beacon in Recovery
According to the Beacon House website, patients receive frequent enough sessions “to increase the percentages of continuous sobriety achieved at the one-year mark from 44% to 77% following a 30-day residential treatment program.”
In its residential program, Beacon House is licensed for twenty-two beds. The outpatient program is more flexible with a pretty open capacity. Within those two programs, college students in recovery are welcome at both. There is not a separate program for young people, but Beacon House maintains resources to help them. If the initial assessments indicate early addiction, then Johnson encourages students to consider outpatient treatment. That option proves less disruptive to the young person’s academic track because therapy and treatment can work around class schedules. If, however, there is a diagnosis of acute addiction and residential treatment is required, then the staff works on the discharge end to help students get back to college in a way that supports their recoveries.
For students in recovery, admits Meagher, there can be a number of triggers. It’s important that they find support groups on campus and look for sober housing. Beacon House helps them figure out those things.
Although she recognizes the need to treat young people in need of recovery, she also believes in the power of prevention. “We really believe that among the young population—high school and college—prevention and education are the way to go,” she says. “Our preference is to give them tools and knowledge, so they never end up with us.
“We emphasize those efforts because a lot of young folks are experimenting or may have had bad experiences drinking too much or getting drunk, but that does not mean they are an alcoholic. We help them look at the big picture. We help families and schools to identify when there’s a problem. In fact, we find that working with school counseling centers is one of the best options. We want to help folks find their way. If we find there is a pattern of addiction or alcoholism, we will help, but, really, we want to work with the least restrictive form possible.”
Even among the non-student population, Beacon House takes a similar approach. It hosts lectures and alumni events open to the community to educate people about addiction and issues surrounding the disease.
“We look for every opportunity to offer those services,” Meagher says. “Kurt and Dr. Larimer get out and do a lot of education. We have gone and talked to attorneys about how to help someone who is addicted; we have done lectures with therapists. We go to colleges and give lectures to faculty and students on the dangers of alcohol and addiction.”
Lately, Beacon House staff have been working with employers. Johnson says he has been presenting data about how addiction affects their workplace. “We also have an internship placement program with a number of employers with Master’s-level clinicians and social workers. They send counseling students to us, and the students learn to operate as competent clinicians. We consider that an important component of our outreach.”