Reports Show Maryland Overdose has Declined

Drug Overdose Deaths have Declined in Maryland

In the last two years, officials locally and across the country have been allocating any and all extra resources to combat the opioid epidemic since drug overdoses were declared a public health emergency. Recently, we have seen a small amount of progress in the state of Maryland.

There has been a 15 percent drop in the number of overdose deaths in 15 Maryland counties, including Baltimore City. The total number of deaths is still extremely high considering 577 people in the first three months of 2019 is more than six people dying a day, but the 15 percent drop is still promising and the first decline in deaths since 2010.

Throughout Maryland, more than six people have died per day since the start of 2019. However, this is a 15% drop.

Last year, 2,385 people died due to drug overdose in the state of Maryland alone. Many believe that the spike in deaths is due to the cheaper and more dangerous drug, fentanyl. Many users initially don’t know if they are using fentanyl, because it is commonly mixed with heroin, which in turn causes users to overdose due to the higher potency. Public health and law enforcement officials have warned the public that fentanyl has almost entirely replaced heroin in the street-drug supply.

Overdose death is preventable, and help is always available. Just because overdose has declined in the past three months, doesn’t mean you are safe. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, the safest and most effective way to get clean and sober is entering treatment.

Dangers of Underage Drinking

Montgomery Counties Underage Drinking Problem

A Quince Orchard High School staff member was recently accused of attending a private graduation party where high school aged students openly consumed alcohol, according to Montgomery County Public Schools.

A staff member drinking with students is obviously shocking and wrong, but then why is it okay for parents to allow their underage children to drink? Why do some parents host parties or buy their kids beer? If we think its wrong that a teacher is doing it, why don’t we cringe when it is our son’s friend’s mom? Shouldn’t that be just as shocking to us?

Underage drinking is a huge problem, not just for adolescents, but for adults as well.

Many adults feed into the idea that “if its under my roof at least I know they are safe.” Which is illegal and can cause huge legal problems, as well as contribute to the idea that alcohol is not a dangerous drug.

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5.1 million adolescents have reported binge drinking at least once in the past month.

5.1 million adolescents have reported binge drinking at least once in the past month. Binge drinking is dangerous and can lead to alcohol poisoning and death. The CDC estimates that alcohol plays a part in the deaths of 4,358 adolescents each year- from vehicle accidents and alcohol poisoning to homicide and suicide. Drinking is dangerous. It is not a “safer” drug, it is not “okay under your roof.” If you are an adult that allows adolescents to drink, you could be putting them at risk for developing alcohol dependence.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol, the time to get help is now. Don’t wait, reach out for help today.

Alcohol Awareness Month

Do you know the dangerous side effects of alcohol?

Did you know there are roughly 80,000 deaths that are related to alcohol abuse every year, making it the 3rd highest cause of death in the U.S.? Alcohol, a drug thousands of people consume regularly, is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.  Although alcohol is only legal to those over the age 21, roughly 5,000 people under the age of 21 die from an alcohol-related incident including car crashes, homicides, suicides, and alcohol poisoning annually.

Approximately 17% of men and 8% of women will be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime. Women who are dependent on alcohol are 50 to 100 percent more likely to die from alcohol-related causes than men who are dependent on alcohol. Signs that you may be dependent on alcohol can vary from tremors and seizures, to feeling extreme anxiety when you aren’t drinking. People who feel they need alcohol to “relax” or “have a good time” are more likely to misuse alcohol or become addicted to alcohol.

5.1 million people ages 12-20 reported binge drinking in the past month. Binge drinking is when you drink 4 or more alcoholic beverages in one episode. Binge drinking often leads to alcohol poisoning, which left untreated can cause severe dehydration, coma and death.

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Many people don't realize the dangerous effects of alcohol addiction and believe if its legal, it must not be dangerous. Alcohol kills roughly 80,000 people each year.

Alcohol use can lead to long-term health issues like cardiovascular disease, cancer of the throat, liver, or mouth, anxiety and depression, dementia and liver disease. In a study done in 2009, alcohol related kidney disease was the cause for 1 in 3 kidney transplants in the U.S. Some alcohol related diseases can be partially or fully cured when drinking is stopped, which is why treatment for alcohol dependency is vital. With medical detox and intensive therapy, recovery from alcohol dependence is possible!

Teens who start drinking before the age of 15 are more likely to develop alcohol dependence or substance use disorder later on in life. Youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and fifty times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink. One survey found that 32% of the heavy drinkers over 12 were also illegal drug users.

If you believe you or a loved one may have a problem with alcohol, call or message our 24/7 admissions specialists for more information about treatment and recovery.

Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

Is addiction a disease or a choice?

Everyone has an opinion: is addiction a disease or a choice? Many people will argue that addiction is a string of bad choices, some will shame you for comparing addiction to a “real disease” such as cancer, and a few will ask “why can’t they just stop?”

On the other side of the argument are those who believe that addiction is a disease of the mind, body and spirit that can be treated with 12 Step programs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse categorizes addiction as a complex, relapsing disease, and quitting usually takes more than just “good intentions” or a strong will. Drug abuse hijacks the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who truly want to.

Drug and alcohol use may start out as a choice but becoming addicted is not. Once you are addicted physically and mentally to drugs or alcohol, that is when we begin to see the patterns and behaviors that society has deemed as “morally unjust.”

You may choose to try smoking pot or drinking a beer with friends, you may even up the ante and experiment with cocaine or pills. For some, doing it once or twice and never thinking about it again is simple, but others will become addicted to the high and chase it for years. While the initial decision to experiment was a choice, the disease, that effects some and not others, was not a choice.

So, that leaves us with the question that nobody really knows the answer to, what makes these people different?

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Is addiction a disease or a choice?

Why Are Some People Addicted, While Others Aren't?

Some people who become addicts were born this way, with the “addiction gene” hiding in their genetic makeup. For these people, they may have realized they had qualities of an addicted person long before the drug or alcohol abuse began. They may also have parents or grandparents that were addicts, that just passed the gene down to them.

For others it is nature and nurture that ultimately pointed them into the depths of addiction. It could be trauma or low self-esteem, a problem with their mind and how they view themselves.

The truth is, nobody really knows why some of us are alcoholics or addicts, and some of us can drink or use without consequence.

I like to think that we don’t just become addicts, that we, whether genetically or due to our upbringing, are using the coping skills we can to deal with life. I like to believe that if drugs and alcohol never came into the picture, then there would probably be some other (negative) coping skill that you used- such as food, gambling, shopping or even romantic relationships.

Drugs are a symptom of the disease, that is something you will likely learn if you ever attend an NA or AA meeting- but then what is the disease if it is not just us being drug addicts or alcoholics? Is the disease us?

In some ways, yes, we/us/you/me are the disease, or at least a really big part of the disease. Alongside the “us” is everything else about us like where we are from, how many siblings we have, what parenting styles we grew up with, and what belief’s we have about ourselves.

These things all play into our disease, which cause us to seek out coping skills to make us feel better, because that is all most addicts and alcoholics want- to feel better. Maybe you tried something like running or drawing, and that just did not fill the void. Maybe for a while you were binge shopping and that helped ease your pain. Maybe you drank your first beer and knew “this is it,” but maybe you didn’t. Maybe it wasn’t until many years later when your friend offered you a Xanax that you decided that this would be a pretty good coping skill, and it felt really good to use.

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We work with our patients to get to the root causes of their addiction.

Getting Help With Addiction

Addiction is different for everyone who struggles with it, it is a chronic relapsing disorder that needs to be taken care of daily in order to stay well. It isn’t a moral failing, and it is definitely not something people choose to live with. I doubt that anyone wakes up and says, “I want to become a heroin addict, that sounds like a lot of fun.” However, this is thousands of people’s reality, they are addicted, and they cannot stop without the proper treatment, which is the tricky part.

Since everyone has different experiences and genetics that could play into their addiction, there is no one way to treat all of these people. At Fresh Start Recovery Center, we do not apply cookie cutter treatment techniques, each patient gets their own treatment plan based on their strengths and needs.

We use a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on each person as a whole. We look to treat the mind, body, and spirit, along with family issues, social relationships, educational issues, and mental health issues.

Many of us know some healthy coping skills, we may have even tried to use these “healthy” coping skills to no avail. You wouldn’t hammer a screw with a nail, and sometimes that is what we are doing when we try to use new coping skills.  Our clinical staff will teach you how to properly use the coping skills and tools and find what works best for you.

Inpatient Vs Outpatient Treatment: What to Choose

Inpatient Vs Outpatient

When deciding to get help with your addiction to drugs or alcohol, many people assume they need to go to inpatient or residential treatment directly after detox. Outpatient treatment, for some reason, continually gets labeled as “not enough,” even when in some cases, it mimics higher levels of care as far as therapeutic groups and peer support.

When deciding between inpatient and outpatient care, it is most important for you and your family to look at the quality of care you will be receiving. All treatment centers are different, and at Fresh Start Recovery Center, we will always make the best decision for our patients.

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Inpatient care is the most acute level of care offered

While inpatient care is great and has a lot to offer, it is not always feasible when it comes to cost and insurance coverage. Many people get hung up on the idea that residential care is the best way to stay away from triggers and work on yourself. Triggers don’t go away when you enter residential care, and will likely still be there when you get back. Working on your triggers while in outpatient care can help you learn how to better handle them.

When searching for treatment for yourself or a loved one it is important to look at all possible options, and if you believe you need an extra layer accountability, structure, time away from drugs, alcohol and outside triggers, why not consider a partial hospitalization program with community housing?

Many people have a lot of questions about outpatient treatment- some of the most common ones are “what’s the difference between inpatient versus outpatient” and “where do I live during outpatient treatment if I can’t live at home?”

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Our outpatient treatment offers housing, which gives patients freedom and helps them learn valuable life skills.

Partial hospitalization is the highest level of outpatient care we offer. Partial hospitalization mimics a higher level of care while still giving patients the freedom to leave property while supervised.  In community housing patients can learn valuable life skills such as grocery shopping, learning to communicate with peers, and other daily responsibilities we have throughout life. At this level of care patients attend group therapy and individual therapy on a daily basis. Community housing may seem like a lot of responsibility for someone right out of detox, but with the help of our 24/7 community housing aids, patients will have the extra layer of accountability they may need.

Many patients and their families are concerned about outpatient treatment being less restrictive than inpatient treatment. One of the biggest things we hear is “What will my loved one being doing at night?”

Under the supervision of our 24/7 housing aids, patients are brought to meetings nightly, as well as other fun sober activities, such as nail salons for women or barber shops for men.

Patients have their own bedroom or apartment where they can cook themselves meals, watch TV, or work on therapeutic projects they may have been given by their treatment team. Patients are free to build relationships with sober support in the area and create friendships with those living with them in our outpatient care.

Weekends are a great time for patients to go on outings, visit their family, and create a network in the local recovery community. During the weekend’s patients have a lot of down time, which can help teach them about responsibility.

During the weekend we offer outings that are recovery focused and fun. We will also bring patients to local AA and NA meetings during the weekend, or allow them to choose one to go to themselves. In our outpatient care, patients are given freedoms that will help enhance their recovery.

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Patients have the option to go on outings during the weekend.

Francesca’s Testimonial

“The last twenty-four hours before I got help were such a blur. I was tired of getting high and ruining my life, but I wanted to use one last time. A part of me just wanted to go to detox and get it over with, but at the same time I was so afraid of the unknown. I saw no future for myself and couldn’t picture my life being more than the vicious cycle of addiction. When I was actually on my way to detox, like in the car, I just kept thinking how pointless getting clean was. I kept thinking about turning around and not going at all…but I went, and it changed my life.”

Francesca, a former patient and now alumni coordinator at Fresh Start Recovery Center says she didn’t know if she really wanted recovery when she first got to treatment over sixteen months ago.

Many people that suffer with substance abuse struggle with obsessive thoughts and post-acute withdrawals that can make long term recovery seem somewhat impossible. Francesca said that if it wasn’t for Fresh Start, she might have never believed she could stay clean.

“When I got there and met the staff, and almost everyone was in long term recovery, it made things start to shift for me. I saw it work in their lives and I wanted it to work in mine.”

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Before and after Francesca got treatment for her drug addiction at Fresh Start Recovery

Francesca remembers how badly she wanted to make it to one year clean and how badly she wanted to change her life. “If I could get to a year, I knew I could keep going and it would get better,” Francesca said. As more time began to pass, she knew that she could only move forward- going back was no longer an option regardless of how hard things got.

Creating a strong support system is an important part of staying clean. When you are in active addiction, many of your relationships are built around using drugs and alcohol. When you decide to get clean, you may lose some people you believed were your friends, however you can gain real relationships with people who only want to see you succeed. Francesca remembers when she was in active addiction, she had no real relationships. “Now I have real relationships. Not everyone is trying to get something from me. The relationships I have with people are genuine.”

What’s it going to hurt to try to be sober? You can always go back, but you won’t know until you try. Nothing is more important than your life. At the end of the day people are dying because of addiction and it doesn’t have to be you. All those other excuses to not get help—if you lose something in the process then you can always gain something better.

Alcoholism and Young Adults

Why Don’t Young People Reach Out For Help With Alcoholism?

“Alcohol isn’t really a drug…”

“Alcohol is legal!”

“It’s not as deadly as heroin- you know what your getting!”

 

Many young adults who meet the diagnosis for alcohol use disorder aren’t seeking treatment, because they don’t think they have a problem. In a recent study of 351 young adults who met the criteria for alcohol use disorder, 96% believed they didn’t need help and 29% thought the problem would go away on its own as they got older. So why don’t young people think alcoholism is a real problem?

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88,000 people die from alcohol related causes per year.

Three common reasons why people are hesitant to seek treatment for alcohol use disorder

Its legal: So, you can buy alcohol at a store, you can use it public, how can it be that bad- the question then becomes, if you had to buy alcohol from the sketchy part of town, from a dealer, would that make it a “bad” drug, would you then stop, or would you continue to drink?

Many people don’t even consider alcohol to be a drug, and if they do, they justify it by saying its legal or “not that bad.” While alcohol is a legal drug, that doesn’t equate it to be a safe drug. Alcohol poisoning kills six people per day, which doesn’t include the number of people who die in fatal car crashes due to impaired driving or cirrhosis of the liver, which is caused by heavy drinking over long periods of time. Legal does not mean safe: Smoking cigarettes is also legal, however proven to be deadly and cancerous. Eating McDonalds everyday is legal, but we know it is bad for our health and can cause health problems. Not wearing a seatbelt is legal, but we know that increases our chances of being injured if we got in a crash. Just because alcohol is legal, doesn’t mean you should ask for help if your drinking has began affecting you negatively in any way.

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Over 600,000 youths, ages 12-17, have alcohol use disorder. Only 5.2% of these adolescents receive treatment.

It could be worse: Many people feel that if they aren’t heavily drinking every day, or they don’t get the “shakes” from drinking, then there drinking isn’t really a problem. Many alcoholics minimize there drinking to avoid feelings of guilt or shame, some even believe that their drinking isn’t that bad regardless of one or two negative consequences. The excuses may be “I don’t have any DUI’s” or “I don’t black out every night, it’s just a drink or two!” While these excuses may be accurate, maybe they are experiencing family problems or increased depression and anxiety- which are two symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Everyone Else is doing it: The statistics are shocking, and the excuse “everyone else is doing it” isn’t too far off. Over seventy percent of American’s ages 18 and older reported binge drinking in the past year. Does that make it okay? No. Does that make it seem like binge drinking is normal? Possibly.Many people who engage in dangerous drinking don’t see it as a problem simply because they are out drinking with friends who drink just as much if not more, or because it’s not an everyday occurrence. Binge drinking is actually just as dangerous as drinking every day, it can cause health problems, such as liver, digestive, and alcohol poisoning, as well as legal problems such as DUI’s. If “everyone is doing it” is your best excuse as to why you continue to binge drink, ask yourself- if everyone was doing a “harder” drug would you do it?

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When young people use alcohol, they are more likely to become alcohol dependent as adults.

88,000 people die from alcohol related causes per year. Alcohol is a hard drug. Just because it is legal, doesn’t mean it is any safer. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse, and don’t know where to turn for help, let go and let’s chat. You don’t have to be like “everyone” else, you can decide to change your life, today.

What’s Really in Your Drugs?

Drug dealers have taken on a new role as a chef, creating concoctions of multiple deadly drugs.

Drug dealers have been marketing what they sell on the street as pills, heroin or cocaine, when in reality it is a mix of different drugs, they created to make more money while spending less. The drugs they have mixed together could be opiates, such as fentanyl, stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, benzodiazepines and barbiturates, however there is no way to know what you are actually getting.

These deadly concoctions are dealer’s security, by getting users hooked to their specific product means they will be forced to continue to come back, regardless of price or consequence, in order to stay well. Drug dealers are spending less money on synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which is one reason they may be using it to cut all of their drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine. In New York, a statement was released warning people who recreationally use drugs such as cocaine or MDMA, that they may be contaminated with fentanyl and cause overdose death. In Iowa, police and Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman warned about counterfeit pills that, they say, could have fooled a pharmacist. In Mississippi police pleaded with users to take precaution due to fentanyl being found in multiple drugs found on the street.

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Fake drugs don't come with a warning. When you buy drugs off the street, you have no idea what your really getting.

Counterfeit pills could contain only fentanyl in them, regardless of them being labeled as Xanax or Oxycodone, which would cause immediate overdose. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, only one spec could cause an overdose. This problem has popped up than five states that have had to release statements, including a federal statement from the Drug Enforcement Agency, warning those addicted that any drug bought on the street could be counterfeit, contain fentanyl, and be deadly.

Besides adding fentanyl to drugs, dealers have been mixing heroin with Xanax and barbiturates. Adding other prescription drugs to heroin or cocaine, is not only dangerous, but can make withdrawals more difficult to overcome and even cause seizures when Xanax is involved.

The different additives will also cause the user to experience withdrawals from one or more of the other drugs. These additives may be heroin mixed with fentanyl and Xanax, muscle relaxers, tramadol, or cocaine mixed with fentanyl and Adderall. Fighting multiple withdrawal symptoms makes the detox process difficult for many, which keeps them in the grips of their addiction.

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Drug dealers have taken on the role as a "chef," creating dangerous concoctions and deadly mixtures.

Every time you use, regardless of your drug of choice, if you are just trying it for the first time, or think you “know” your dealer, you are playing Russian roulette. These dealers are keeping you hooked to what they are selling, and your life is in danger every time you use, you have no idea what could be in that pill, or in that bag. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you don’t have to go through this alone. Our admissions specialists can help you get sober and into detox today. Let go and let’s chat.

College Students and Substance Abuse

College Students and Substance Abuse: Deadly Combinations

College is often a time of exploration and learning, but did you know it is also a time of binge drinking and substance abuse? Studies show that college students are more likely to partake in binge-drinking, marijuana use, and prescription drug use, which often leads to substance abuse. College students and substance abuse are a deadly combination.

What drug is most commonly used and abused in college?

The answer may surprise you…alcohol! Sixty percent of college students drink alcohol. While many people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two are likely to experiment with alcohol, college students are more likely to partake in dangerous binge drinking. Two out of three college students binge drink to the point of blackout on a weekly basis. Binge drinking is consuming enough alcohol to raise your BAC above .08 within two hours, which is about five drinks for men and four for women. This can lead to fatal car crashes, liver problems, alcohol poisoning and death.

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Two out of three college students binge drink to the point of blackout on a weekly basis.

Getting a Prescription From a Friend Doesn't Make it Safe

18% of college students reported using illicit drugs, other than marijuana. Almost 10% of this illicit drug use comes from prescription drugs used to treat ADHD such as Vyvanse, Adderall and Ritalin.

One in three college students say that they have abused Adderall at some point, either when studying for a test, going out on a Friday night, or even to help them lose weight before spring break. Many of these students are getting this stimulant from friends who are willing to sell their ADHD medication to make a few bucks. Students say they feel like its “not as bad” since they are getting it from a friend and it’s a legal prescription. Adderall is a powerful stimulant that many college students believe helps when studying for a midterm exam by keeping them awake and focused.

When abused Adderall can keep users alert, increase their heart rate and suppress appetite. Adderall is a legal prescription drug used to treat ADHD, but when you abuse it, its effects are similar to cocaine. College users believe it is “safer” since it is a legal prescription that they buy off friends, instead of cocaine that is bought and made on the street. However, mixing Adderall while binge drinking on the weekend could have more serious repercussions than a hangover, missing a class or failing a test- it could lead to death.

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13% of college students use marijuana daily, marijuana dependence causes anxiety, depression and skipped classes.

Marijuana is one of the most widely used illicit drugs in the United States. While marijuana has become legal under some state law, under federal law it remains a Schedule 1 Narcotic, meaning it has high potential for abuse and no medical use. 13% of college students use marijuana daily. Using marijuana daily can lead to skipping class, feelings of anxiety and depression, and dependence.

Entering college should be a time of exploring, learning and trying new things, but those new things don’t have to be drugs and alcohol. While some students may feel they have “nothing to worry about” or that they could “grow out of using.”

Don't Wait For Rock Bottom!

28% of college students reported they were “concerned about their drug misuse” but, over 50% of college students reported a negative consequence of using drugs or drinking in the past year. If you are college student worried about your drinking or drug use, you are not alone. Don’t wait to hit a “rock bottom.” Let go and let’s chat today about your treatment options.

What Is Community Housing?

Community housing is one of the most important decisions a patient will make when going from detox, inpatient, or residential to outpatient care. Community housing is the sober living component of outpatient treatment, whether it is PHP, IOP or OP. When you live in community housing, you are adding an extra layer of accountability to your life and ensuring that you will be surrounded by a group of like-minded men or women.

Community housing is conveniently located close to our center, in a neighborhood that feels like home. Patients are free to build ties within the community at neighborhood events, volunteer at local organizations, and spend time with people in their recovery network. Patients may attend group therapy at the center, attend outside meetings with community housing aids, or begin working and attending school during the day. Community housing aids will assist individuals in learning to live a fun and fulfilling life without drugs and alcohol.

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Fresh Start Community housing, backyard with pool
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Fresh Start Recovery Center's community housing will make you feel right at home!

The environment patients return to should be focused on building the skills one needs for long term success. Community housing is our way of helping patients to be a part of a drug free, recovery focused environment with like minded peers and an extra layer of accountability.

Community housing can help patients get back onto their feet, our community housing aids will help patients learn the skills they need to live a normal, drug free life; from grocery shopping and cooking healthy dinners to relearning how to have fun without drugs and alcohol. Sobriety is about more than just living without drugs and alcohol, it is learning to do life with structure and integrity.

Our community housing puts an emphasis on creating strong community networks and lasting foundations for your long-term recovery. Our community housing offers structure and support when you need it most. Community housing is a very important step during the aftercare process. It gives patients the time and resources they need to relearn the necessary life skills needed to succeed.