Non-profit group plans opioid recovery home for women and their children

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An Indianapolis-based non-profit group hopes to raise enough money to open a new recovery home for women struggling with opioid use and addiction.

Organizers with Overdose Lifeline say the residential treatment facility will be open to women who are pregnant and who have young children.

“Our goal will be for children to remain with their mother to keep the family unit whole until at least the age of two,” said Overdose Lifeline founder Justin Phillips. “They’ll be women who have acknowledged the challenge with their opioid use disorder and the disease they’re suffering from, and they want to do what’s right for their child.”

Phillips founded Overdose Lifeline after losing her son, Aaron Sims, to an overdose in 2013.  Since then, the organization has worked to spare other families the pain of losing a loved one to overdose and other problems related to opioid use.

“It’s a very difficult journey to have with a family member and someone you love, especially a child,” Phillips said. “I think if you don’t have this experience personally, it’s difficult to completely relate.”

Overdose Lifeline works to combat Indiana’s opioid crisis through education programs and providing families with naloxone, which can save a person from the effects of an overdose. The group also gives out fentanyl test strips, which can detect the presence of fentanyl in substances.  

The group uses grant funding for many of its programs. But that grant money cannot be used for capital projects like the new recovery home, so Overdose Lifeline must rely on donations and fundraising efforts.

Phillips says there aren’t enough places in central Indiana where women can go on a long-term basis to live and receive medication-based opioid addiction treatment. The new recovery home will follow the existing Pathway to Recovery protocol and work with area hospitals, the legal system and DCS to allow women and their children to live together during the treatment program.

“The women’s programs that there are, there’s waiting lists,” said Overdose Lifeline Program Director Robin Onnell. “So we can aid in getting them into recovery sooner.”

This Thursday, the group will host their annual golf outing fundraiser at Dye’s Walk Country Club in Greenwood. The golf outing started in memory of 22-year-old Leland Plew, an avid golfer who died from an overdose in 2014. Now, the golf outing is held in memory of Plew, Aaron Sims, Brandon Justice, Jarrod Polston and all those who’ve died too young due to drugs or alcohol.

An online silent auction will accompany the golf outing.

“We are really hoping to generate about 100-thousand dollars,” Onnell said. “With the silent auction online, folks can bid from their couch, they don’t have to come out to the golf outing.”

Phillips said she is unable to discuss the location of the recovery home because property negotiations are ongoing, but she says they do have an existing facility in mind. She hopes to begin housing 20 to 30 women and their children by September of this year.

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