Abell Salutes: The Quarterway Houses Inc.

January 2000 / Salutes / Criminal Justice and Addiction

For effecting recovery from drug addiction with a program of “talking and listening.”

Is it possible for hardened drug addicts to recover merely by talking and listening? Dr. John Hickey, Executive Director of Quarterway Houses Inc. and his deputy director, Debra Lawson, are believers. They see it happen every day at Tuerke House.

The method, developed by Dr. Hickey’s predecessor, Dr. Joseph Verette, is based on a deceptively simple view of personality: “You feel the way you feel because you think the way you think,” a way of looking at oneself, Dr. Hickey says, known in lay circles as “cognitive therapy.” But getting the addict to ingest this cerebral discipline is not all that simple.

It takes, for starters, rigorous, classroom work and after-hours study for 28 straight days to move the addict from the point where he (she) enters the program to a point where he or she can leave it, and take responsibility for him (her) self from there on out. In those challenging, abstinence-based, activity-packed days, the addict attends lectures on 20 different themes, combined with as many or more group therapy and
one-on-one counseling sessions. The client must talk as well as listen, help and be helped, and do what amounts to homework. The theme around which the lectures and interchange revolve include “Anger and
Depression, “Controlling Feelings,” and “Relationships.”

Dr. Hickey makes no claim that the Quarterway House treatment program is effective for all addicts; individual cases vary.

After the 28 days the client moves out of Tuerke House and into an outpatient program that requires him (her) to attend, for another 90 days, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Many patients stay close to Tuerke House and the out patient clinic for their personal support system and clinical services needs.

Close to 800 people, or 75% of the clients entering the Quarterway House system, complete the entire 28 day program each year. This experience is just the beginning of the recovery process and each person is referred to a continuing care (outpatient) program) and may move to halfway houses.

Dr. Hickey believes partnering with other community-based agencies and programs can result in successful recovery for most if not all program graduates. “For example,” Dr. Hickey says, “Over the past few years the Men’s Center, a family counseling facility in East Baltimore, has referred a total of 29 men to Tuerke House. Twenty-six of these men are still living in recovery today.

Marian House has proven to be an effective partner for the recovery of women. A survey suggests that 53 “shared clients” since January of 1994 at least 22 and perhaps as many as 40 are living productive, pro-social lives.

The Abell Foundation recently recognized Tuerke House by funding a support program which Dr. Hickey believes will serve as a bridge to long term recovery for increasing numbers of Turke House graduates.

There are about 100 clients currently being served in three separate facilities at any one time. Tuerke House is the 28 day residential intermediate care facility, with 76 beds; Nilsson House is a halfway house serving 11 women; Weisman Kaplan House is a halfway house serving 17 men; the Quarterway outpatient Clinic offers a continuing care program and a peer support group.

For those who do not reside in halfway houses, at the completion of 28 days in Tuerke House, the program’s recommendation is, first, on-going professional counseling in an outpatient continuing care program, with the length of participation depending on an individual’s personal needs; and second, daily attendance at either AA of NA, starting with 90 days attendance and continuation as needed.

The Abell Foundation recognizes the significant results of the Quarterway Inc. program, and the proven technique that are making such heartening results possible.