LAKEMORE – Not long ago, Jason Knapp was dropping $800 to $1,000 a week to feed twin addictions to heroin and fentanyl.
"That was just my paycheck," he said. "Basically, I was working to be addicted. I don't think I hit bottom, I think I just wore out."
Knapp needed to find a rehab program he could afford.
"I've always wanted to go to rehab," he said. "I told my mom, 'If you find a place, I'll go for a year.' My mom found it the next day."
What is Restore Addiction Recovery?
Knapp, 42, of Akron, recently competed that year at Restore Addiction Recovery, a free, faith-based residential treatment program in Summit County that also serves Stark County and the surrounding area. It's at 2650 Sanitarium Road on the grounds of the former Edwin Shaw Hospital.
Restore Addiction Recovery is marking its first year, with Knapp as its first graduate.
"It's been fantastic," said ministry founder Dan Gregory. "You have a set of expectations; we knew what we wanted to do. It's just crazy how it came together."
What sets Restore Recovery Addiction apart from traditional programs, he said, is it lasts a year.
"Men need a year of sobriety, a safe place to live, a support network and an exit strategy," he said.
For the first month, residents are in the process of learning to trust.
"Many are coming straight from detox," he said. "They learn more about the program and decide whether to stay."
In the second phase, residents enter individual and group counseling.
Gregory said residents are reintroduced to work by meeting with community partners in need of employees. Residents work one week off campus, and are off one week, during which they continue working with licensed counselors and taking classes on how to navigate "without the bondage of drugs."
Activities include art therapy, a weight room, an outdoor basketball court, Bible study, and guest speakers. Gregory said residents also take on housekeeping and kitchen duty because "this is their home."
"We like to say that we're replacing unhealthy addictions with healthy habits," he said.
The central goal of the ministry, Gregory said, is to change lives.
"It's a holistic understanding and change element that comes through the world of God," he said. "It's not just getting sober, but real, lasting change. Substance abuse often masks deeper issues."
Jason Knapp's recovery story
Knapp said his ego fooled him into thinking he could handle drugs.
"I started at 32," he said. "I knew better."
A laughing Gregory admits he was dubious about the value of art therapy.
"They love it," he said. "They use it as part of their healing program."
The facility, which has a capacity for 60 residents, currently houses 25 men, who range in age from 19 to 60.
"It's not a lockdown facility, but you can't come and go," Gregory said. "So far, four men have voluntarily left early but decided to come back."
Phase three of the program includes full-time work and home visits. Part of the money residents earn is earmarked for their expenses and overhead.
"More freedom means more responsibility," Gregory said. "Some opt to stay (at the facility) because home is not a safe place."
The fourth phase is what Gregory calls "the launch phase."
"It's planning an exit strategy," he said. "They can have a car on campus. But there's no rush. We want to make sure that when they exit, they have a safe place to go."
Though he's completed the program, Knapp said he's planning to stay three additional months.
"It not my plan. It's God's plan," he said.
Knapp said he's lost three friends to addiction and others who weren't addicted.
"A lot of my close friend weren't addicts," he said. "They tried to help but they couldn't, so they distanced themselves."
Regional efforts help Restore Addiction Recovery
Awash in natural light, the 15,000-square-foot center sits on 18.5 acres donated by Summit County, led by County Executive Ilene Shapiro.
The ministry enjoys support from private donors and a network of churches, including Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, and Grace Churches in Fairlawn, Barberton and Bath.
"Our building is debt-free," Gregory said.
A second nonprofit, Hope United, is being built nearby, and will offer aftercare for people recovering from addiction.
Knapp, who is working full time, is grateful for the second chance he's been given.
"It's freedom, the joy of the day," he said. "When you get so deep into addiction, you don't think about anything else."
Gregory said Knapp is being humble.
"I've seen a guy just blossom," he said. "Our partner company is thrilled to have him. One of the areas that most excites me is seeing men like Jason who come in broken and leave restored.
"The key thing is there's hope. If you're a guy who has the ability to work and you want change, lasting change, it takes more than 30 days. It's teaching you to do life in a new way."
Knapp said he's motivated to stay clean, not just for himself. Two months before entering rehab, he reunited with a son he gave up as a teenager for adoption.
"There's a way out if you want it," he said. "I know I couldn't do it any longer. It has to be God, but believing in God only got me so far. Change came when I started trusting in God and his plan."
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @cgoshayREP
What: Restore Addiction Recovery, a residential treatment center
Where: 2650 Sanitarium Road, Lakemore
Intake: Held at 9:45 a.m. every Monday.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Restore Addiction Recovery treatment center turns a year old