Fort Wayne, Indiana 2626 Fairfield Avenue, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 46807

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Inside Indiana Business & Avenues Recovery

Shlomo Hoffman
Sep 22, 2020

Avenues Recovery has brought its signature addiction treatment and unparalleled community-based care to the state of Indiana. Our new location has hit the ground running, to the delight of the Fort Wayne community. We are well on our way to becoming an invaluable resource in the battle against the opioid epidemic ravaging Indiana.  

Our beautiful new facility caught the attention of local media, and popular local tv show, Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick, invited our National Director of Clinical Engagement, Russ Francome, to share our gratitude for the warm reception we have enjoyed from the city and its environs.  

Watch and Listen to our plans and hopes for a drug and alcohol addiction free Fort Wayne here: 

Gerry Dick: Well a new treatment center in Fort Wayne is taking aim at one side effect of the pandemic; relapse and overdose rates spiking dramatically. Avenues Recovery says, that before opening the location, people in Fort Wayne had to drive two hours to find a specialized treatment center.  

Business of Health reporter Kylie Veleta has more.  


Kylie: Thank you, Gary. Overdoses in Indiana have skyrocketed during the pandemic. The use of Narcan, which reverses an opioid overdose has increased 35% statewide, and in some counties more than 95%. In April, Narcan hit its highest use in Indiana history.  

The primary focus at Avenues Recovery Center is a 30-day residential substance abuse treatment program. The New Jersey based company has 10 centers in the US and the Fort Wayne location is its first in Indiana. Russ Francome is the company’s national director of clinical engagement. And he joins me now to tell us more about this new treatment option in Fort Wayne.  

Russ, Thanks for being on the show today. 

Russ: Thank you for having me. 

Kylie: So, this pandemic really is having a dramatic effect on addiction in general. Explain what you’re seeing and some of the reasons why these trends are happening. 

Russ: Sure. So, I mean, the pandemic is obviously is an unprecedented time for everyone. We’re all struggling with economic insecurity, job insecurity, housing insecurity, generalized kind of fear of the unknown medical anxiety, fear of family members in itself and that’s just for all of us at the best of times. If you take the recovery community, people in early recovery and recovery in general really rely on coping skills and they rely on routines to combat the daily obsession and you know, desire to use. So, they use things like going to the gym or, you know, going to therapy appointments or doing things in the community, attending AA and NA meetings. Now, imagine all of a sudden, one day in the blink of an eye, all of those things being gone and not being able to access them anymore. People in recovery often say, you know, “move a muscle change a thought,” when it comes to those intrusive thoughts and desires to use, but in lockdown, that’s obviously become impossible in a lot of cases. 

Kylie: Right. You mentioned connection is really great for people fighting addiction. And of course, lack of connection right now is definitely a problem. So explain why Avenues chose Fort Wayne in particular and how you’re really wanting to become part of the local community there. 

Russ: Sure. So, we identified Fort Wayne as having a dearth of services. So we kind of wanted to bring our nationally recognized individualized care to this area. We want to become a true Fort Wayne treatment facility, not just a treatment facility located within Fort Wayne. How we do that is we’re going to open our doors and our campus to NA meetings, to AA meetings, Al-anon meetings. We want to engage and partner with the local community in any way that we can, that includes local government, police and other emergency services. We’re going to be utilizing Toys for Tots drives, backpack programs for kids going back to school. We’re partnering with local treatment providers also in the local community because we really do believe it takes a village, so to speak, to kind of really combat addiction. 

Kylie: You mentioned, even though you’re a national conglomerate, you really work to become part of these local communities that you move into. So, another important point is that you accept private insurance and Medicaid, and you’re one of only a few private programs in the country that accepts Medicaid.  

Explain why that’s so important. 

Russ: Sure. So, I mean, we at Avenues, we want treatment to be inclusive rather than exclusive. And I think in order to really be a true local treatment facility, our community, our milieu needs to be truly representative of the communities that we’re housed within. If we don’t widen the eligibility for people to enter our services and have the ability to say yes so much more than we have to say no, then I think that we can’t really truly be you know, a true treatment facility in this local community. And adding the effect of the pandemic just makes that even more important. Unemployment in April of this year was at 15% in Indiana compared with 3.5% in September of 2019. So what we have is we have so many more people utilizing Medicaid and we want to be able to, again, help as many people in this local community as we possibly can. 

Kylie: Okay. So what has response been like? You’ve been open for a little over a month there. About how many clients do you have now and what client base are you hoping to reach in the future? 

Russ: Sure. So the response in general has been great. We’ve been welcomed them with open arms. I feel like everyone was kind of waiting for the treatment center like us to come into the local community. So from other treatment providers, the local government, we had the mayor at our grand opening. It’s been wonderful and we’re really starting to feel a part of that community. And I hope that we the larger community holds feeling like we’re a credit to it. And that’s what we want. As far as, our current census, when we open a new treatment center, what we like to do is a slow opening just to ensure that we are providing the highest level of clinical care possible. So as of right now we have 20 clients and that’s a mix of both commercial, (we work with all private insurance) as well as Medicaid and that kind of steadily rises on a weekly basis. So eventually the goal is to reach our census, at 100. And again, we’re going to try and help as many people in this local community as we possibly can. 

Kylie: Okay. Just a little bit of time left, but the building has an interesting story. It used to be a local hospital and it was vacant for about seven years. And you guys have really given it a major facelift. 

Just tell us about sort of the modern feel of that building now. 

Russ: Sure, so it underwent, as you said, like a pretty dramatic facelift, and that was very strategic and well thought through. You know, it’s quite easy to provide really individualized treatment when you have 20 clients in treatment, but we wanted to ensure structurally that when we’re at capacity, everyone feels truly individually taken care of. And it fills that intimate feel. We don’t want to lose that. Anyone that walks through our doors is going to be treated with dignity, respect, and genuine care. And our goal is, again, to provide that to as many people and in as comfortable a setting as possible. When you enter treatment, it’s such a brave decision. It’s such an uncomfortable moment in the lowest ebb of your life. We want to initially make people comfortable so they can engage in our medical and clinical services as quickly as possible. And again, just be part of our kind of real loving environment and the kind of environment of change. 

Kylie: Okay, Russ your such an important addition to the Fort Wayne community. Thanks for being on the show today and sharing with us about it. 

Russ: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure. 

Kylie: Sure. 

Gerry, back to you. 

Since joining the Avenues Recovery content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. His popular addiction podcast "Rubber Bands" is a must listen for anyone involved in Substance abuse treatment. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.

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