Bethesda Mission turns focus to drug and alcohol recovery

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Bethesda Mission is changing its long-term focus to helping those who are fighting drug or alcohol addictions.

“I started really early with my drug usage, maybe 12ish,” Dave Howard said. “A lot of kids in my neighborhood were smoking weed and drinking beer and such.”

That eventually led Dave Howard to use crack cocaine.

These mats lined the chapel and halls of the Bethesda Mission last winter.

“I got to a point where my life got unmanageable,” Howard said.

Howard ended up at the Bethesda Mission. He’s been at the shelter for eight months.

“The time I’m here, I’m in a protected, safe environment as far as people using drugs and alcohol,” he said. “That’s helping me just with the abstinence part of it, which is the first step for me.”

“It’s not just a sobriety issue, it’s also the issue of how to deal with life and not go back into that life of addiction again,” said Bill Christian, director of the men’s shelter.

The shelter is able to spend more time and money on fighting substance addiction after the Downtown Daily Bread expanded its overnight hours.

“The average age continues to decrease,” Howard said. “We have a lot of men in here that are in their late teens and early to mid-20s.”

The mission has two phases of treatment at the shelter. Each lasts six months.

“After that, we have our traditional housing,” Christian said.

Dave Henry already has plans for his future.

“I would like to be in a position to help people,” Howard said. “I feel like I have something to give.”

Those at the mission believe focusing on recovery is the best way to decrease homelessness in the community. They say this shouldn’t affect the homeless who need temporary shelter because other organizations have stepped up.

The mission will still take in those in need in if temperatures are below 20 degrees or there’s severe inclement weather.

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