In her mid-forties, Dee's social drinking took a turn for the worse: she drank to forget her problems, and found her problems increased. In short order, she lost her job, home, family and friends. Various attempts at rehab failed, and she woke up one day in a hospital with a bruised and bloody face and no memory of how she got there.
She recalls, "The hospital discharged me at three in the morning, and by the grace of God, an angel picked me up and took me to a treatment center." After detoxing, the center recommended Dee enter Grateful House, the women's residence of Way Back Inn.
While at Grateful House, she received counseling and guidance through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA.) She says, "I learned to think in a positive way and be grateful. Slowly, I began to want what I had."
Dee found employment at a cookie store, and over time, she became known as a reliable and dependable employee. Today, she is taking classes to become a counselor and help others who face the same challenges she once faced.
Anita Pindiur, Executive Director of Way Back Inn/Grateful House, notes that stories like Dee's are the reason Way Back Inn and Grateful House have long played such an important role in the communities they serve. Grateful House was founded in Austin in 1958 to serve women struggling with alcoholism, and Way Back Inn was founded in Maywood in 1973 to serve men. Today, the two original homes have grown to include six locations in Maywood, Oak Park, Forest Park, Chicago and Melrose Park.
Along with alcoholism, Way Back Inn treats adults suffering from drug and gambling dependence. Pindiur says the keys to recovery are long-term treatment and finding a sense of purpose.
During the week, residents receive counseling, group therapy, attend AA meetings and meetings with sponsors. Each home is set up to function as a family, with residents responsible for cooking and cleaning. Dinner every night is a family meal. On weekends, residents have time for visitation with family or close friends.
Pindiur states that many residents enter Way Back Inn incapable of working. Through the support of the local community, she says most find work within a few weeks to a month. "This is quite a wonderful community. We have so much support and not a lot of stigma. People understand what Way Back Inn does and are willing to employ our residents."
As Dee's example shows, there are multiple benefits to finding employment during treatment. Jobs provide needed structure and meaning to the day. "With addiction, you can lose that meaning," remarks Pindiur. "To gain that and have a sense that people are relying on you and you are worthy of that is important."
Pindiur notes that over the years, the need for their services has only grown, so Way Back Inn is attempting to address problems before they begin. While residential programs are suitable for adults, a new initiative is aimed at adolescents. Through community outreach and after-school groups, Way Back Inn is attempting to use education and prevention to prevent gambling and gaming disorders from taking hold of lives of teens.
Today, Way Back Inn serves between fifty-five and sixty residential clients, and close to thirty-five patients on an outpatient basis for gambling addiction. With a steady stream of referrals from hospitals, treatment centers and the AA community, she says the importance of residential programs like Way Back Inn cannot be overlooked.
"Research indicates that long-term treatment is required for sustained recovery. It takes time to change neuro-pathways and find new ways of living, new ways of dealing with stressors and to build new pathways of support."
For more information on Way Back Inn and its programming, visit www.thewaybackinn.org