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My Voice: Independence from Addiction

By: Scott Burlingame, Executive Director

“This was great, you should advertise more”.

That statement was yelled from the back of the room when I recently had the opportunity to attend a class we offered at North Central Human Service Center (NCHSC) to about 25 participants of their Substance Abuse Treatment Services.

We would love to be able to advertise more, however, our funding does not allow us to. We do, nonetheless, have an obligation and responsibility to tell the story of Independence, Inc. Part of our story, perhaps unknown to many, is we are part of our community’s solution to the addiction crisis.

Independence, Inc. has been providing Independent Living Skills classes at NCHSC for over two years. We were invited because those going through addiction treatment have expressed a desire to learn how to navigate their lives without the aid of substances. We have taught a variety of lessons, including budgeting, wants vs. needs, community resources, communication skills, employment, and goal setting.

As we look to the future, we are also updating our programing to better meet their current needs. We are developing classes on parenting, assertive communication, transportation, community recreation and will gladly develop any training they feel is needed.

We have also used the relationship we have built with the folks served at NCHSC to provide services outside of the class setting. This includes people whom we have helped to find housing, transportation, and employment. We help to connect them with the resources needed to live safe and independent lives in the community.

We promise each person we serve that we will be there for them, and that we will support them no matter what their path to recovery looks like.

However, the efforts of Independence, Inc. to be part of the solution to the addiction crisis go beyond individual services. We are also working to be part of changing our community’s capacity to better address the addiction crisis.

We were glad to promote and facilitate a visit from Adam Martin on June 24th to speak to members of the Minot community. Martin is the Founder of the F5 Project in Fargo. The F5 Project helps transition people from confinement to a new life. They assist with ongoing communication, safe and affordable housing, employment, healthy socialization and transportation.

What struck me the most about Martin’s presentation was how much his programing is like that of the Independent Living Movement. His programing is a peer based service, which says “Hey, I can help you because I have been where you are before.”

In addition, we are actively advocating for homeless programing in Minot that is based on the Housing First practices. Housing First is an evidence based model that provides people with housing, without any special preconditions or requirements of any type of services. This practice has been shown to be more effective, and less expensive, than other models in addressing homelessness, addiction, mental health issues, and domestic violence.

I look forward to continuing to be part of the solution to addiction, both through individual and community services. Because even though we can’t advertise, I know people who use our services see us as part of their solution.

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