Avenues to Sobriety

(Left to right) Left to right: Moshe Schonbrun, Executive Director Avenues Recovery Center at Prince Frederick; Melissa August, Outreach Coordinator Avenues Recovery Center at Prince Frederick; Calvert County Commissioner Christopher J. Gadway; Josh Goldstein, Regional Executive Director Avenues Recovery; Lauren Joeckel, Clinical Director Avenues Recovery Center at Prince Frederick. Photo: Molly W. Crumbley.

By Molly Weeks Crumbley

“Hi, everybody. I’m Dave, and I’m a recovering alcoholic.”

“Hi, Dave,” the crowd responded.

Dave, who bravely shared his story to a room full of people and cameras, is one of many Marylanders affected by addiction. Substance abuse is not a new problem, but it is one that has become exacerbated during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From May 2020 to April 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a record high number of deaths from overdose—more than 100,000 Americans. In the face of unprecedented relapse rates and overdoses, accessible community treatment is more important than ever.

That’s where Avenues, a recovery community located in Prince Frederick, comes in. Avenues is a national organization with 10 rehab centers located throughout the country, and its Prince Frederick facility was their first Maryland location. Opening in 2017 and already serving over 1,500 clients, the Prince Frederick location quickly outgrew the space they had. As their wait list grew from five clients to 100, the team took action. In addition to opening a second Maryland location in Cambridge, the community worked to renovate Avenues’ existing space and to acquire a second building for their campus. On Wed., Feb. 23, Avenues opened its doors for an open house and ribbon cutting to celebrate their expansion.

With clean and well-appointed bedrooms, dedicated spaces for group and individual meetings, and outdoor and indoor fitness and recreation opportunities, Avenues feels like a community center.

Josh Goldstein, regional director of Avenues Recovery, credits many organizations and people—local hospitals, primary care physicians, counselors, psych facilities, county government, law enforcement—for stepping up and becoming true partners in their mission of community-based care.

 “For people in the beginning stages of recovery, it’s a vulnerable time. To have that comforting sense of security is so important. To have a building which is appropriate, which is accommodating, which is respectful of who they are as people is so important,” he said. “We’re grateful that we got to this point.”

The expanded facility in Prince Frederick now has 93 beds for clients in the inpatient program, and each person receives individualized care.

“They literally meet people where they’re at. Each person—from the prescreen to their admission to their assessment to their discharge—each person is treated uniquely and differently,” said Goldstein.

Executive director Moshe Schonbrun emphasized that the needs of the client is the priority at Avenues. Everyone who walks through the doors is coming from a different place with different needs. Everyone’s journey looks a little bit different. “There are many words that describe the medium that takes a person from one place to the next: a street, a path, a road, a highway, an avenue. What’s different about an avenue from all the rest? I think the answer is that people come from all different streets of life,” he said.

“For some, the road is relatively unobscured. For another, it’s a dirt path with obstacles, rocks, and boulders piling up. For somebody else, it’s a highway that’s well paved but structurally weakened. Twists and turns, ups and downs; an avenue cuts right through the town. It’s where all the different streets converge.”

Dave, who addressed the crowd on his penultimate day at the facility, shared some of his own twists and turns with the gathered crowds. “I came in here with issues with anger, guilt, shame, and frustration. I knew that if I left this facility that same person, that person would drink again or use,” he said. “Alcohol brought me down to the point where I was no longer employable, where I was no longer trustworthy, where I could barely live in my own skin.”

He needed a community, and Avenues provided him with one he says, as well as with the tools that he would need to move forward on his road to sober living. “There’s a great community here and we became really, really tight with one another. This place has saved my life.”

Avenues Recovery will be participating in an upcoming community event hosted by the Calvert County Local Behavioral Health Authority. Community Conversations: Calvert County’s Innovations on Addressing Substance Use Disorders is scheduled for March 23 (6-8pm) at the Northeast Community Center in Chesapeake Beach as well as on Zoom for those who prefer to attend virtually. Following a presentation by the medical director of Calvert Crisis Reponse will be a panel discussion and Q&A with representatives from Avenues Recovery, the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland Coalition of Families, Calvert County Behavioral Health, and Calvert Health Medical Center.

Interested community members can register to participate by emailing [email protected] or calling 443-295-8582.

If you or someone you know is seeking help to achieve sobriety, Avenues Recovery works with all insurances and can be reached on their website at avenuesrecoverymaryland.com and by phone 24/7 at 410-694-7294.