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Damascus offers affordable hope
New center caters to men with addiction problems
Vern Howard
Vern Howard

    Men with addiction issues seeking help in recovery have a new option in Statesboro.  Damascus, LLC. offers an affordable option where men can work towards overcoming the challenges they face with addition to alcohol or drugs. Located on South Zetterower Avenue, the new rehabilitation home was the brainchild of two men with local connections and a history of experience in recovery.

    Tim Strickland knows recovery can be a difficult process. So does his partner, Vern Howard. They each know recovery options can be expensive, a day-to-day challenge, and they know how important the right environment and support can be when a person is fighting addiction.  With this knowledge and experience, they say they are ready to help others.

   Strickland, with a Masters in Education Counseling, national certification as a Master Addiction Counselor, and a host of other accreditations, decided a year ago to join Howard in developing Damascus. Howard, owner of Bulloch Recovery Resources, is a nationally certified addictions counselor, certified anger management specialist and substance abuse professional with a list of credentials himself.

    “We started planning about a year ago, because there wasn’t a whole lot (of options) here,” Strickland said. “We decided to come up with this concept.”
Many men who need recovery have exhausted their resources. Family and friends have stopped giving them money, they have lost their jobs, and they are at the end of their ropes, he said. They cannot pay for expensive recovery facilities.

   But living at Damascus only costs $175 a week. Residents have to pay a one-time entry fee, but once in the program, they must get a job and pay their own way. It’s part of the recovery process, learning to stand on your own and do for yourself, he said.

The state-approved curriculum includes counseling, group meetings, and a structured environment with house rules that are enforced 24/7, he said. Residents are to be out of the house by 7 a.m. and do not return until after 4 p.m., and must turn in 10 applications for jobs daily until they are hired somewhere, Strickland said.

“The men have to earn privileges,” he said. “The more responsible they are, the more responsibility they are given.”  Misbehavior or broken rules can lead to loss of privileges, such as the right to take a trip home, or own a bike or car. The structure “builds unity. They feel like it’s a brotherhood,” he said.

Damascus is not a money-making venture, he said. He and Howard created Damascus not for profit, but to help men who need a place to live while they struggle and work towards rebuilding their lives. The rules and structure “combat enabling,” which is when friends and family capitulate to addicts’ demands and make it easy for them to continue their destructive behavior, he said.

Many addicts gain a “sense of entitlement” from years of being enabled and therefore feel it is their right to behave in a manner that is harmful to them and their loved ones. Damascus’ structure and programs will help remove that false sense of being owed something, according to Strickland.

The programs are based on the 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, and addicts have individual counseling once weekly.

Family interaction is not only encouraged, but used in the recovery process, he said. Also, there are outings and activities designed to encourage interaction and keep the amount of free time to a minimum.

Damascus provides housing, food, drug and alcohol screening, reports to probation and parole officers, employment assistance, sponsorship and spiritual guidance. Residents must want to become and stay sober and drug free, must be capable of full time employments, be free of infectious diseases, be mentally stable and not have a history of violence of be a sex offender.

Damascus is able to help men who are “stable on psychotropic medication,” Howard said.
Residents must bring a photo identification, a suitcase of clothing with no references to alcohol or drugs, including casual wear and dress clothes; an alarm clock, (battery operated), watch, laundry basket and toiletries with no alcohol in them, he said.

The entry fee is $600, and paired with the first week’s rent, the cost to begin is $775, he said.
The residence is homey and comfortable and features a camel theme throughout as a symbol of “Damascus,” a Biblical r4eference. Strickland said the idea came from when “Saul changed to Paul, on the road to Damascus.” God blinded Paul for a reason, “ because He wanted him to rely on something other than himself,” he said.

For more information about Damascus, call Strickland at ( 912) 515-5026 or Howard at (912) 536-5559. Also, access Damascus’ website online at www.damascusrehab.org for more information.

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.


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