Jerusalem Sober House in The Jewish Press.
Jerusalem Sober House launches an English-language early intervention project.
Jerusalem Sober House is launching an English-language early intervention program geared to students struggling with substance abuse issues, JSH director Big Mike Gondelman announced Tuesday. The program will be “the first English-language outpatient addiction treatment program in the State of Israel,” Gondelman told JewishPress.com.
Although JSH is a male-only residential facility, the new program will feature two separate tracts, one for males and one for females.
“We want to start the program in the next school year,” said Gondelman, who explained he’s under some pressure: “We are participating in the ‘Spark’ program on the ‘Jewcer’ platform to fund the central project, and we only have till the end of this month to get that done.”
The “up” side to the high-pressure campaign, however, is an $1,800 matching grant for the top three campaigns who manage to reach their goal in time. An addictions counselor who knows the deal “from the inside out,” Gondelman said he is no stranger to pressure; moreover, it’s part of his job to teach that coping skill to others.
“Joe* is one of six children from Long Island who grew up in an observant family,” Gondelman said. “A traumatic experience as a young child and two older brothers who were addicts eventually led him to full-blown addiction as well.
“He used any drug he could get his hands on,” he said. “He just wanted to ‘escape’ and getting high was the way he did it. He got kicked out of different programs for using and dealing before he came to JSH.
“By the time he came to Jerusalem he was hurting really bad,” Gondelman went on. “After only a few weeks in the program he couldn’t stay sober so we had to kick him out. He stayed clean for three days – that is our requirement – but then he would relapse over and over again. That happened three times in the early stages of his recovery.
“We never gave up on him though – the longer he was in the House, getting intensive therapy to treat the underlying trauma, the longer he was able to stay clean.
“Joe put in a lot of effort to work through his issues during his time at JSH, and got a lot of support at the House. He learned some valuable life skills from our staff that he is now using.
“He left JSH after having eight months of sobriety, and we have continued our relationship with him through after-care support.
“Today Joe works as a dorm counselor in another Sober House in the United States, where he is paying forward the help that he received at Jerusalem Sober House.”
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