World Population Day. Did you know?

World Population Day: The Incarcerated Population World Population Day was established by the UN in 1990 to spread awareness of population issues and how they impact our environment and development. According to un.org, “Current estimates indicate that roughly 83 million people are being added to the world’s population every year.” That’s a lot of people! And in America, 2.3 million are currently incarcerated, 4.9 million have been formerly incarcerated, 19 million have been convicted of a felony in their lifetimes, 77 million have a criminal record, and a staggering 113 million adult Americans have an immediate family member who has been in prison or jail. That’s more than in any other country. In fact, 1 in 5 people who are incarcerated in the world are incarcerated in the U.S. (Prison Policy Initiative). In Ohio specifically, it is estimated that one in eleven adults have a felony conviction and one in three adults have a criminal record. Does this just mean there are a lot of “bad” people to look out for? As it turns out…

Drug Offenses

One in five incarcerated people is locked up for a drug offense and 450,000 people are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses at any given time (Prison Policy Initiative). But what is a drug offense? A drug offense is when an individual violates a law that prohibits the possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of illegal drugs (Prison Fellowship). What counts as an “illegal” drug also depends per state. In Ohio, marijuana, the most common drug, is illegal if not prescribed for medical purposes. Even just the possession of the drug can earn you jail time. In the US, there are over one million drug possession arrests each year. The average prison sentence for people convicted of federal drug offenses is more than 11 years. This is the greatest contributor to the federal prison population. In general, drug penalties at the federal and state levels tend to be disproportionate and overly harsh for the crime, causing good people to be jobless and even homeless after incarceration.

On the other side of that are drug-related offenses. These offenses come from the effect of drugs on individuals either while on the drug or from being motivated by their addiction to the drug. These people are not “bad” people. Many of them suffer from substance abuse disorders and other trauma. At Alvis, we believe the positive alternative to incarceration is to address the issue at the source with rehabilitation and addiction programming. See our Recovery Choices Program and Amethyst Program.

Mental Health

Tied strongly to drug offenses and substance abuse disorders are other mental health disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.” Similar to victims of substance abuse disorder, individuals with mental health conditions of any sort are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system than to seek medical help. In fact, NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Health, states that two million people with mental illness are booked into jails each year and the vast majority are not violent, don’t get convicted, or are serving time for minor crimes. In jail, it is hard for these individuals to receive the treatment they need, making their condition worse, and keeping them locked up for longer than others without a mental health condition. Then, once out of the criminal justice system, a criminal record makes it hard to get a job, find housing, and still leaves them untreated for their condition. Many times, this causes them to end up re-arrested, creating and endless cycle. Again, these individuals are not “bad” people. They deserve second chances, recovery, and treatment for their conditions. Besides Amethyst and Recovery Choices, Alvis also offers SHINE, CHAT, and Belmar Recovery Housing.

Bail

It is also notable to mention that 74% of people held by jails are not convicted of any crime. Additionally, people in prison or jail are disproportionally poor compared to America as a whole. Why is this? It all starts with bail. Statistically, high policed areas are low-income with people who can not afford to pay bail. To make a point about this, New Orleans professor Chris Surprenant spoke at the Institute for Humane Studies about mass incarceration and pulled up stats from the local Arlington, Virginia jail saying, “You’ve got 344 people incarcerated. 43% of these folks have not been convicted of anything…That there are any people who can get out if they can only put up that, if they only need to put up a thousand bucks, is a problem because these are people who probably don’t present any danger to the community. If you can get out for a thousand dollars, it means we don’t mind having you out in the community,” (The Institute for Humane Studies). As a result of this time spent in jail and the development of a criminal record, individuals who were already in poverty fall farther into debt and stay in poverty from inability to find a job that will hire them.

Second Chance Citizens

Over 600,000 people transition from prisons back into their communities every year and the unemployment rate among incarcerated people is five times higher than the unemployment rate for the rest of the US. Even greater than in the Great Depression (Prison Policy Initiative). Because so many Americans have a criminal record it is critical to provide second chance citizens with jobs. Not only will employment help these individuals gain economic stability after release, but it reduces the likelihood that they will return to the criminal justice system and promotes greater public safety, benefitting everyone in the long run. The alternative, with the rates of arrests continually climbing in the US and Ohio, more repeat offenders and no employees for hire. It’s time to break the stigma. At Alvis, we believe that everyone deserves a second chance and we offer a variety of reentry programs to help turn people’s lives around from past justice involvement including residential reentry services using the Equip Program (our studies show that 93% of those who completed the Alvis Residential Reentry program and were back in the community for at least one year did not return to the criminal justice system) and workforce development training including H.I.R.E. (Help In Reentry Employment education) and EDGE (Empower Development by Gaining Employment). To learn more about our reentry programs click here or here.

Happy World Population Day!

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

Recovery Housing at Alvis

An Overview of Three Programs for Women

At Alvis, we’ve been fortunate enough to fuel many programs that focus on recovery for women. Some of these women have a history with substance abuse disorder and/or mental health disorders—many times, these are co-occurring, and may originate from extensive trauma. SHINE (Stable Housing to Inspire, Nurture, and Empower), CHAT (Changing Habits, Attitudes and Thoughts), and Belmar are a few housing options for women that, in addition to Amethyst, provide resources for independent living and re-entry into the community.

The Amethyst program, which many people familiar with Alvis likely know about, is one of Alvis’ two integrated behavioral healthcare programs. A huge factor that makes the Amethyst program distinct from other treatment programs for women is the fact that it allows women to live with their minor children. Amethyst, specifically, works to reunite and strengthen families. Most residences at Amethyst have more than one bedroom, and the program provides services for women and their children. The ways that SHINE, CHAT, and Belmar differ from Amethyst are mainly due to the clients served through these programs and the format in which recovery resources are offered.

SHINE

SHINE is a Level II Recovery House for women that provides 6-12 months of transitional housing. It is open to both women with or without children, like Amethyst. Additionally, these women must have at least 90 days sobriety, stable mental health, and no violent impulses for the last 12 months. Those who have either been diagnosed with opioid use disorder or have a history of opioid overdose have priority consideration for admission.

At SHINE, women work with a Peer Case Manager to maintain sobriety, form stronger familial relationships, receive employment training and assistance entering the workforce, attain financial independence, and transition to a permanent residence. A dedicated caring staff decorates and maintains the living space for families, which features sitting rooms, a kitchen, restrooms, and other typical comforts of home. Up to two single women are housed in one unit (each with her own bedroom) and mothers residing with their children live in single apartments. There is a sliding rent scale based on employment schedule or income, and “move in” packages include living room and bedroom furniture, as well as necessary household supplies. Additional services, like bus passes, utilities, and food assistance is also offered if needed.

CHAT

The CHAT House aims to provide adequate resources to human trafficking survivors, so they may overcome their traumatic experiences and re-enter into society. Many of these women are graduates or participants of the CATCH Court, which was established by Judge Paul Herbert. At the CHAT House, communication is key. Staff is sure to remain transparent and on-call for clients, in case they need to discuss important things. Emergency situations are tackled as a team. 

In the living space itself, much like SHINE, walls are lined with bookshelves and decorated with empowering wall art and words of encouragement. Some of this art is made by clients and Alvis volunteers, who bond and connect through creating arts and crafts.

Belmar

The Belmar House, which recently acquired a Level II Ohio Recovery House certification last July, is a beautiful space managed by a former client. Unlike Amethyst and SHINE, this is a space for women without children. Each client has her own private bedroom, and there are a host of common areas, like a modern kitchen area and multiple sitting rooms. The women at Belmar are very independent and live close to typical everyday lives, which is an end goal for all Alvis clients. They have already shown signs that they can maintain structured schedules and employment. Rent is due on the day they move in, and there are still random drop-ins, house meetings, and walkthroughs every couple of weeks like at SHINE. Clients can stay here for as long as they wish, on the condition that they stay clean and follow house rules.

We’re so excited for our recent developments and programs to come. As we offer more support and resources to our clients, during this especially trying time, we remain hopeful and confident in the ability for our clients to achieve #180DegreeImpacts on themselves and their community.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Parent’s Day

National Parent's Day Blog post by Alvis Inc 180 degree impact

Today, July 28th, is National Parents’ Day! National Parents’ Day, which was established as a national day in 1994, is held on the fourth Sunday of July. We do already celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but National Parents’ Day fixates even more on parenting. Whether a child has one parent, two parents, step-parents, or caring guardians in their lives, these figures are highly influential regarding a child’s wellbeing and success. According to a magazine article published by UC Berkeley, a study from the University of Chicago found that parents with higher levels of shared emotional empathy and awareness of injustice directly influenced their children’s ability to detect prosocial (positive) or antisocial (negative) behavior. Another post from Talk About Giving provides statistics denoting the influence that parents have concerning children’s high risk behaviors, education, automobile safety, and even their philanthropic endeavors. Parents serve as role models in regards to these behaviors.

While Alvis loves celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Parents’ day equally ties into Alvis’ mission (perhaps even more directly), because it actually focuses on the role that parents play in their children’s lives. Our world is ridden with detriments and challenges to children’s happiness, ambitions, and security. Parents and parent-like figures are key in modeling good behaviors for their children.

Alvis has a Family and Children’s Program, the Amethyst program, and many clients with children who are determined to reunite with their families. We understand the importance of family, and how strong, healthy families directly enhance the strength of communities. This day serves as a reminder that parents and parent-like figures are central in the development of children, and we celebrate these people who are caring, kind, and shining light in the right direction for their children, so that our world may have a brighter future.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

POWER Program

On Thursday, July 11th, Alvis and its partners, Franklin County Probation and Talbot Hall, are celebrating three successful years of the POWER (Partnering Organizations for Wellness, Empowerment, and Recovery) program. During its first three years, nearly 300 people have come to the POWER program for treatment of opiate addiction combined with justice involvement. “Maybe it’s because they’re all there for the same reason and they have that common bond,” says Chris Mullen, Interim Operations Manager at Alvis’ Jackson Pike facility, who admires that individuals involved with POWER are very much a team. “It’s really important to have peer encouragement whenever you’re going through a life-changing program.”

A life-changing program is exactly what the POWER program is. In the midst of the nation’s opiate addiction epidemic, this program addresses the urgent need for treatment in central Ohio. A partnership between Franklin County Adult Probation, Alvis, and Talbot Hall, the POWER program involves holistic, evidence-based treatment combined with court supervision, medication-assisted treatment (primarily Vivitrol), counseling, and behavioral therapies. This program is based at Alvis’ Jackson Pike facility. Up to 20 clients participate in the residential program at any given time.

The Process of Recovery

Accepted clients either self-report, or are transported to Jackson Pike by probation officers, and receive assessments and treatment plans at Talbot Hall, which also determines their residential or outpatient track. Assessments include determining if a client needs detoxification, medications and/or other health care. Following detox and the recommendation of medically-assisted treatment, participants receive their first Vivitrol injection (or another medication approved for treatment of opiate addiction). Simultaneously, participants receive medical care at Talbot Hall and group and individual substance abuse counseling at Jackson Pike. All clients follow their designated program track. Residential care also involves life skills education, cognitive behavioral treatment, and ongoing case management.

Treatment plans are highly individualized depending upon assessed needs, but developed according to a similar treatment structure. Clients go through the same Phases—Phase One is approximately 14 days, including detoxification/initial administration of medication assisted treatment. Phase Two (approximately 3 months) involves core treatment. Phase Three (approximately one month) focuses on relapse prevention, reentry, recommendations for aftercare in the community, and following up on any unmet assessed needs. Phase Four consists of aftercare in accordance iwth the treatment plan. Phase Five, the last phase, entails continuous care addressing one’s substance abuse disorder. During Phase One, clients remain in Alvis’ residential program and participate in ambulatory detox that also addresses medical needs daily at Talbot Hall.

Changing Lives

POWER program Alvis blog

Many clients in the POWER program have battled addiction, but it is often their first time their addiction has coincided with justice involvement. Clients are taking a hard look at themselves and how they came to Alvis, then working with treatment staff to develop the plan, skills and supports that will change their lives for the better. Michael, a client, was born to parents addicted to drugs. He was adopted at the age of 7 and grew up on the South Side of Columbus. As he got older, he also became addicted. Michael attempted to quit for his children and when the attempt failed, he ended up losing them. “It breaks my heart,” he said. “This time, I got help for myself, because I want to live life on life’s terms.” He mentions that the Vivitrol, especially, has been helpful, and is going to help save his life. “I want to go to any lengths to get sober and get my family back.”

For other clients, like Christopher and Adam, this program marked a journey of self-cultivation and understanding. POWER, Christopher notes, allowed him to “learn a lot about myself while being sober,” including how it affects himself, loved ones, and society as a whole. “I lost my mom while I was in here on the date of April 27th.” Following this, Christopher went through multiple relapses, but staff stuck by him and continued to work with him on his efforts to change the patterns of behavior that have led to devastating consequences. The staff, he finds, are very supportive and helpful. “I just hope I can continue to take what they taught me here and take it into my everyday life… I’ve been in prison and in and out of county jails and programs and it didn’t really click until now.” One thing that stands out to POWER Client Adam, is “the way they change thinking. Ways I thought I was set in stone made me look at different ideas. To think things through.” Adam is performing a rendition of “Lost Highway” by Hank Williams, Sr., at the celebration on the 11th. He chose to play a song that “touches bases on men similar in my shoes.” A huge takeaway that he’s learned from POWER is that there is always hope.

Over and over, POWER participants emphasized the role of staff when attributing how they found their inner power to stay clean and work to successfully reenter into the community. Jacy, who completed POWER two weeks ago, states simply that staff “genuinely cared about me and my future being successful.” It was because of the committed staff that he was able to overcome the challenges that come with battling a substance use disorder. “Try to take everything you can from the program. They will set you up to be successful.” John, another recent graduate of the program, is also determined to move forward because of the support that he’s received from the staff, which entails “a bunch of tools that I’m going to need out in the real world.” He reasons that this involves dealing with situations, rather than relying to drug use/criminal activity, as well as learning new ways to view things, and different thought processes. He’s motivated to do this for a variety of reasons: “Just wanting to stay clean, wanting to be a better, productive member of society…for my family. I’ve got a bunch of little kids as well.”

Another client, Dave, who came in on May 7th, put it simply: “Great program, great group  of guys, couldn’t ask for a better staff.” Like other Alvis programs, POWER does not just focus on treating the illness, but holistically treating the individual. Whether it is GED courses or job readiness programs, the end goal for particpants in POWER is to truly become empowered so that they can turn their lives around for the better.

Alvis joins Stephanie Ward, Program Director, and Chris Ayers, POWER Coordinator, in congratulating current clients and graduates of the POWER Program who are now looking forward to a future  filled with sobriety and success.

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

National Mental Health Awareness Month Fast Facts

When it comes to thinking about caring for one’s self and body, many people first think about exercise and a nutritious diet. But did you know that what goes on inside the brain can affect physical health just as negatively as a poor diet and lack of exercise? One in five adults in the United States experience mental illness, yet it remains negatively stigmatized. Mental health disorders can have a direct and detrimental effect on one’s wellbeing, so it is necessary to have information about these conditions and how to treat them. 

Throughout May, Alvis is joining the rest of the country in raising awareness about the importance of mental health care. National Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrating its 70th year. It was started by the Mental Health America organization in 1949. During the month of May, this organization, along with affiliates, conducts numerous outreach activities based upon a yearly theme. This year, they are expanding on the 2018 theme of #4Mind4Body. This hashtag encourages individuals to explore topics surrounding animal companionship, spirituality, humor, work-life balance, recreation, and social connections as a way to improve mental health and overall wellness.

As the leading cause of disability worldwide, depression is one of the major contributors to the high cost of untreated mental health conditions. In more serious cases, depression is estimated to cost America over $193 billion in lost earnings every year. Depression is a detriment to the economy and it has a negative impact on those suffering because they are losing income simply because they are incapable of fully engaging at work. One in 25 American adults experiences mental illness to this extreme, and it is likely that the individuals who suffer from these chronic conditions have been affected since their teen years. 

Of the almost 50 million who experience mental illness each year, over 10 million also suffer from addiction disorders. Communities that are already affected by other hardships are also facing mental health challenges: 26% of homeless adults are living with serious mental illness; and 24% of state prisoners have a history of mental illness. Addressing mental health disorders in this population should be a top priority as positive mental health habits may create a domino 

effect that lowers levels of crime and addiction by providing mental health wellness resources in high-risk communities. 

When looking to how many of those with mental health conditions seek treatment, the numbers are definitely lower than one would hope. Nearly 60% of adults with mental illness did not receive wellness services in the past year. Just over 50% of tweens and teens didn’t receive services. Minorities have even lower service rates in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts, with African and Hispanic Americans receiving care at half the national average rate. 

At Alvis, we join other providers in working to create awareness that we hope will increase the number of people seeking treatment. We need to make positive connections and encourage those who are suffering to stop suffering alone in silence. We commend all of those who are living with and seeking care for their mental health conditions for all that they do. We hope to highlight some of the people and issues in this community throughout the month of May. 

If you want to get personally involved, begin by doing some research on what your community is doing to help those with mental health disorders. Mental Health America offers a great toolkit that can be used to spread awareness on social media, and you can see one of their banners at the start of this post! At Alvis, we incorporate mental health treatment into our human service programs. This allows our clients to make fundamental changes and truly feel our 180 Degree Impact. Stay tuned to Alvis social media and our blog throughout May for more on mental health and how Alvis is spreading awareness for this amazing cause! 

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.

Social Work Spotlight: Carolann Gregoire

Carolann Gregoire, CSCC Practicum Coordinator

To continue with our celebration of the social work profession this March, we sat down with Carolann Gregoire, Practicum Coordinator for the Social and Human Services Program at the Columbus State Community College. She has been working as a social worker for decades and has received both her Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Kansas, which is her home state. In order to learn more about her work, we did a Q&A session with Carolann! Read on and watch the video series to see what this industry veteran has to say about the ins and outs of her practice!

Trends

You place students in internships. What is the value of practicum?

I work with students before they go into practicum and also while they are in practicum. I would say that one of the biggest challenges that the students experience is not fully understanding what it means actually to work with a client face to face, within an agency structure. That is why we do practicums, because they can have a world of information that they receive in the classroom, which they need and they embrace intellectually, and even on a heart level; but it’s very different than when you are actually in the same room with a client who is sharing their story and looking to you for help. It’s a very humbling experience. If it’s your 1st time in trying to be helpful with a client it takes practice and takes confidence before you feel like that what you know intellectually is something you can translate into practice.

Top 3 Skills

What are the reasons most students select a career in Social Work?

I think Social Workers choose this field in part because of some personal experiences, and it’s important whatever that personal experience is that we have worked with it sufficiently so that we can use it, rather than it using us, and really interfering with the work that we do with clients. So there is a fine line when you feel like you are on the other side of the experience. For me, it was a couple of things that shaped how I looked at the world. Experiences in my life that I had to work with on a heart level before I could really be present with myself and be present for others.

What do you believe to be the Social Workers biggest challenges?

I think for a recent graduate, you need an understanding of how an agency operates and how that impacts what they can actually do with a client. Because when they are in the classroom, it is a lot of information that is very helpful but until you start experiencing it, you don’t fully understand all the different influences that impact what you going get to do with a client. I try to prepare new folks in the field for that thought of “maybe this is not exactly what I thought it was going to be”. There can be barriers to providing good care that come from stigma from society, from lack of funding, lack of resources and I don’t think you really know what that feels like and how it really does impact what you are doing with a client until you are doing it.

Alvis impact in the community

Alvis commends social workers for going above and beyond to help those in need, whether it be through direct support or through providing resources that find solutions to complex problems. Their dedication to bettering their community facilitates healthier relationships, lifestyles, and practices that may not have been a possibility without this aid. Make sure to stay tuned in to our social media and blog this month to see some great interviews with social work leaders in the community offering direct insight on the who’s and what’s of the profession!

Alvis is a nonprofit human services agency with over 50 years of experience providing highly effective treatment programs in Ohio. Our vision is that communities value a person’s potential more than their past. For more information on how Alvis can help you or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact us here.