Group hopes to fight addiction in Hancock Co. with recovery home for women

(WISH Photo/Jessica Smith)

GREENFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — A group of women is working to fight drug addiction in Hancock County by establishing a recovery house for women who are addicted to drugs. The project is led by mothers, motivated by daughters all touched by addiction and all in different phases of the fight.

The women told 24-Hour News 8 there aren’t enough resources in Hancock County to help women who are addicted to drugs.

Leading the effort is Linda Ostewig. Ostewig is the director at The Landing, a recovery program for teenagers in Hancock County. Now, she wants to help young adult women in the fight toward recovery.

“There’s no place really for young women to go, to learn how to live sober,” said Ostewig. “Very few and far between are women’s recovery houses. Which is vital in somebody’s life of recovery — you can come out of rehab for 30 days or 4 months, but you still need to know how to live sober. You don’t have those skills, especially when you started addiction when you were 13-14. Your mind stops growing and you don’t know how to live sober, healthy, mentally, emotionally. It’s vital for us to have homes where they can go and learn those aspects of how to live in society and be productive.”

The problem is personal for Ostewig. Her daughter, Kara Cole, suffered from addiction for 12 years.

“I was on a path of pure destruction and really ruining everyone in my way,” said Cole.

Ostewig remembers the pain of not being able to help her daughter.

“You feel hopeless, and you feel scared. and you don’t sleep. Then there’s days that are better than others, but eventually you come to a place where you have to accept death as a reality. It could happen. How do you live in that?”

Ostewig said there wasn’t a place in Hancock County for Cole to get help.

“I searched high and low for multiple places for her to go, and have paid lots of money…the core issue was there was never really a place for her to go and learn how to learn life, accept life on life terms and learn how to live life sober,” said Ostewig.

Now, Cole has been sober for three years. She and Ostewig decided to use their personal experience as motivation to help others. They’re working together with other mothers to establish the recovery house, called Talitha Koum.

A father whose daughter has battled addiction donated a vacant house to the cause. The house sits on the corner of Main Street and Vine Street. The home is rundown and unlivable, but Ostewig and Cole hope it will soon be a safe place for women to start their recovery.

Women will come to the home after being released from jail, rehab or even off the street, as long as they’ve been clean for at least a week.

“We can’t detox them. We’re not a medical facility. They’d need to be detoxed before they came in,” said Ostewig. “We’re just not a place where they’re going to come and go whenever they want. They’re really going to learn how to live recovery and address core issues that addiction covers up.”

Cole said a safe place like Talitha Koum would have helped her in her fight with addiction.

“If I just had a place that people were coming along side of me and kind of ushering me through the darkness, it would have helped me,” said Cole.

Darlene Hatfield, another mother working with the group, said a recovery home may have saved her daughter’s life. Her daughter, Ashley, died of an overdose just two years ago.

“Ashley could get any drug she wanted in this county but she couldn’t get any help. I think that it’s important for people to realize that it’s in our county. It’s in our backyards. It’s killing our children. It’s killing mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, it doesn’t care who it affects,” said Hatfield.

Hatfield is involved with the Talitha Koum efforts in memory of her daughter.

“We decided as a family that we would try to not let the grief consume us. We wanted to work in a positive way to bring good memories to Ashley’s life and not focus on the things that were bad. It is an ugly, ugly, ugly disease. In helping others, I think we’re helping keep Ashley’s memory alive and truly we understand what these families and these addicts are going through because we lived it,” said Hatfield.

Janet Decker hopes the home could help her daughter, who still struggles.

“Putting people in jail is not the answer. I’m living proof with my family of that. We’ve gone through DOC and things like that. It doesn’t help people recover. They might be sober while they’re in jail, but they get out of jail and there’s no guarantee they’re not going to go back to where they’ve been before. It’s a disease that needs treatment. I put a stigma on it years ago. I looked it as being something that could not possibly ever affect my family. Now it has,” said Decker.

In the home, women will learn how to mend relationships, handle finances, mend family relationships and care for kids. Ostewig said the women will learn who they are and who they can be sober.

“This house — the destruction of it, the unfinished of it — that’s the women that we’re going to get. When this gets rebuilt and beautiful, that’s exactly what’s going to happen to the women’s lives – rebuilt,” said Ostewig.

A therapist in the Hancock County Courts told 24-Hour News 8 there is a huge need for recovery resources geared toward women.

“I’ve seen the amount of women coming in — particularly for opiates or heroin, I’ve seen it increase exponentially. There are fewer services for women…especially our young adult women. Our 18 to 24-year-old women really don’t have a lot of life skills, they don’t have a place to stay, sometimes they don’t have family support and sometimes they have children,” said Amy Ikerd.

The organizers said there are some recovery homes for women in Marion County, but they’re consistently full and often expensive.

The Talitha Koum recovery home would hold 10-12 women at a time, and organizers hope to be open by September.

The organizers have found an architect to design the home, but they are still trying to raise money and recruit volunteers to renovate it. There will be a fundraiser on April 26 and Ostewig said a member of the Governor’s task force against drugs will be in attendance. If you want to learn more click here.

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