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Nonprofit advocates for rehab center

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    Stephanie Robinson, of Medina, is a recovering addict who hopes the new recovery center will give Medina County a resource that's desperately needed.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Collier spoke Wednesday at a question-and-answer session at Fire Station 1 in Medina. Collier is in favor of putting in a drug recovery facility at the Medina Steak House and Seafood Restaurant at 538 W. Liberty St.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    About 40 people showed up for a question-and-answer session with the Ohio Citizen Advocates for Addiction and Recovery Wednesday at Fire Station 1 in Medina.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

Members of Ohio Citizen Advocates for Addiction and Recovery, which hopes to be affiliated with a proposed recovery center in Medina, said Wednesday the group wants to dispel myths about the project.

The county is interested in locating the facility in the vacant Medina Steak & Seafood restaurant at 538 W. Liberty St. in Medina. Several neighborhood residents, however, have spoken out against the location.

The biggest misconception, said Cynthia Boone McQuown, a member of the OCAAR board, is that the facility will be a drug treatment center.

“There’s a lot of language being tossed around,” she said at Wednesday’s panel discussion at Fire Station 1 on West Reagan Parkway about the center proposal.

Recovered addicts can visit the facility and get advocacy training, peer support and vocational training, as well as take part in family support groups, social activities and other community-based services.

She said the center would be different from The LCADA Way, which is a Lorain County-based nonprofit outpatient substance abuse treatment center.

The proposed facility is for those who already have gone through treatment.

Residents have expressed concerns that crime would increase in the area around the center, but McQuown, a counselor at Cornerstone Comprehensive Psychological Services in Medina, said there’s no evidence to support that idea.

“We are not talking about a drug treatment center,” she said. “We are talking about a hub for community activity that is directed toward a recovering population, much like the senior center.

“We have lot of treatment resources in our community. What we don’t have is a recovery-focused resource specifically to provide these kinds of community-based services.”

Several community leaders came out for Wednesday’s panel discussion including Medina County common pleas judges Christopher J. Collier and Joyce V. Kimbler, county Chief Probation Officer Veronica Perry, Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell, Medina police Lt. Dave Birckbichler and Lodi Police Chief Keith Keough.

The plan is for the facility to be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

“It will be a drop-in center, which does not exist in Medina County,” said Medina resident Stephanie Robinson, a member of OAARC, a nonprofit based in Columbus.

“Someone can drop in and receive peer support, they could engage in social activities like board games, conversation or job training,” she said.

“Ideally, it will be peer led. There will be a house manager — one main person who will be a paid staff. There will be one or two part time and some volunteers.

“It gives us a platform to have recovery in our community and fight the problem we have now with the drug epidemic.”

Despite negative reactions from residents in the Bankers Row Historic Neighborhood Association in the Liberty Street area, plans are underway to move forward with leasing the restaurant.

Perry said the restaurant will be inspected Monday.

She noted county officials would look at some of the options the Bankers Row group has come up with for a different location for the recovery center.

“We are not bad people,” said Jessica Hazeltine of the Bankers Row group. “I’m scared. I have questions about something that I don’t understand. You’ve demonstrated this (addiction) is a huge problem. None of us want to see it not go somewhere in Medina. We’re here to help.”

The four OCAAR members who attended the discussion Wednesday told the audience they are recovering addicts and believe Medina will be better off with a recovery center in the city.

“It creates awareness that recovery is possible, recovery is alive, recovery is happening,” Robinson said. “Research shows when people get connected to a recovery community, it reduces the chance of relapse.”

Robinson said overdoses in Medina County have skyrocketed. She said there were 128 overdoses and 20 deaths in 2015. Last year, there were 258 overdoses and 34 deaths — a 102 percent increase.

“This center can impact those numbers directly,” Robinson said.

“We are moving in the wrong direction right now. We are missing something. (The facility) is creating safer and healthier communities,” she said. “We’re giving our community a platform to be able to fight the drug epidemic.”

“Recovery is what it’s all about,” said Dave Caperton of Alternative Paths, a treatment center in Medina. “We can have the best treatment centers in the world. If we don’t find recovery, it’s all worthless. It’s of no meaning whatsoever. My recovery means everything to me.

“I want to tell you something, there isn’t anybody more disciplined than a bunch of alcoholics and addicts in recovery that want to keep what they have. We’ll do anything to keep somebody from taking that away from us.”

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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