AtTAcK Addiction's transitional house for men joins a recovery house and a transitional house already operating for women.
A nonprofit dedicated to helping people recover from drug addiction has opened its third facility, and has hopes that it will be able to continue to fill a growing need in our communities.
AtTaCK Addiction, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created in memory of Tyler Armstrong Keister after his accidental overdose, opened a transition home for men earlier this year that can serve up to 11 individuals.
AtTaCK Addiction founding board member Dawn Hess-Fischer said people traditionally will stay at the home three to six months, but they can stay longer.
“We don’t kick them out,” she said.
She said the transitional home provides a structured environment to help people through the recovery process to get them back on their feet.
The organization also operates a 9-bed addiction transition house for women, and a five-bed recovery home for women. All three homes are located in New Castle County, but Hess-Fischer said the organization is always looking for opportunities to help fill a growing need across the state.
“From a house perspective, if we had a house and we could, we would open it,” she said.
Founding board member Don Keister said the group has reached the limit of what it can do financially, but hopes to continue to grow. Everyone involved with AtTaCK Addiction is a volunteer.
“We don’t get a lot of money from anyone, but we would love to be able to open something in Kent County if we can get a group interested in doing that,” he said.
The group meets the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Levy Court in Kent County. Anyone interested in helping is welcome to attend.
The group would also like to bring their Reality Tour to both Kent and Sussex counties. The Reality Tour is a drug addiction and prevention program that is designed for parents and children in late middle school to high school. It was developed by Candle Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to preventing substance abuse. The program was added to the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices listing of programs in 2011.
“The program includes an arrest scene, a party scene and a funeral scene,” Keister said. “And then we have someone in recovery, a police officer and a short power point with information. It seems to be fairly well received from those people who have gone through it.”
The group has partnered with State Police Troop 2 in Newark to put on the program monthly in New Castle County. And Troop 3 in Camden has expressed an interest in bringing the program to Kent he said.
They are also working with the Red Clay School District to bring the idea of a recovery high school to Delaware.
But everything – from the Reality Tour to transitional or recovery housing to other educational efforts – takes resources.
"Right now we use all our funds, which are generated through our 5K, fundraisers and donations,” Keister said. “We also get a little money from the state.”
Hess-Fischer said the organization has been working with the state to try and identify properties and secure funding, and said she gets about three to five requests a week from people looking for transitional housing.
“Requests come from all over – word of mouth, someone in the house has a friend, or the treatment centers actually call us,” she said. “It could simply be someone comes to our website; a friend, an aunt, someone who’s trying to help a friend.”
People in the house typically have jobs, and they pay a nominal rent. The homes provide safe, drug-free environments and structured living. The organization also works with outside agencies to provide training, such as financial education and life skills, to help the residents succeed.
Ultimately, the goal of atTAcK Addiction is to help reduce the state’s drug epidemic. According to a Joint Health Committee report from Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker in March, the state saw 308 overdose deaths in 2016. Of those, 51 percent were in New castle County, 22 percent in Kent and 26 percent in Sussex. As of July 28, the state’s HelpIsHere website notes there have been 125 suspected drug overdose deaths this year.
Hess-Fischer said those fighting addiction need to know they have a place to turn.
“If you need help, if you are at that point and you don’t know where to go, we are here to help you,” she said.
For a complete list of recovery centers across the state, visit the HelpIsHere website.
For more information on AtTAcK Addiction, visit their website.