County to get first men's sober living home


JASPER — To Joe Crutchfield, life is made up of actions. Everyone is making actions, good or bad, all the time, even if they don’t recognize it.

Crutchfield, 50, became sober from taking the right actions every single day. He now owns an auto detailing business in Jasper and knows what love and true friends and family are because of his own actions, he said.

He still gets the desire to drink, especially when life gets stressful. But the way he looks at it, he has two options: Go to the liquor store, or pick up the phone and call someone such as his sponsor.

“I’m the only one who can keep me sober,” he said.

Those who struggle with addiction have to want to be sober, though, otherwise it’ll never work. In Dubois County, though, even if addicts want to become sober, there’s only so many places they can go.

“It's like a cycle,” Crutchfield said. “They come out of jail, they get arrested again and go back into the jail … We’ve got people coming out of jail who want to stay sober. You have people coming out of rehab and want to stay sober, but they have no place to go.”

Crutchfield, who has been sober for years, has been working for more than a year on starting a men’s sober living home called Next Step Recovery Home.

Both men and women will soon have their own recovery homes as part of an overall community health effort to bring mental health and substance abuse resources to Dubois County.

Dubois County residents have talked for years about how the county needs a place like this, Crutchfield said, but no one has ever taken enough action to make it happen.

“Everybody knows what’s going on behind closed doors,” he said about addiction in the county. “It’s everywhere … And it doesn’t matter who you are in the community. It’s everyone’s problem.”

In collaboration with the Dubois County Community Foundation mental health initiative, Next Step will be recieving a $250,000 grant made possible by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. 

Next Step in the process of finding a home with the help of a realtor. Crutchfield said that ideally, he wants to find somewhere that can house about 10 men and is close to downtown, so those without transportation can walk to their jobs.

Crutchfield said he wants the home to operate so that the men find jobs and go to work during the day and then come back together to work through the 12-step program in the evenings.

“Everything I'm doing is from my experience from my past,” he said. “The 12-step program did me wonders.”

Most importantly, only men who want to become sober will be welcome, because he doesn’t want to force them to take actions they don’t really want to do. He wants the men to be able to talk to each other about their addiction and recovery processes. Counselors can be beneficial for some, he said, but it can be difficult to talk to people about addiction unless they’ve experienced similar struggles.

Crutchfield said he doesn’t want people to refer to the home as a halfway house. The term “halfway house” can negatively imply that the home is for violent people, he said.

“If I tell the community I’m opening a halfway house, they kind of get the wrong idea of people like murderers or hardened criminals," he said.

Crutchfield said he wants people in the community to know about the home months in advance so people can learn to understand why it needs to exist. He’s accepting donations, but doesn’t want people to feel like they have to donate.

“We’re not out here to make money, but we have to keep the lights on,” he said. “Even if you just give a dollar, that’s one more dollar than we had before.”

Crutchfield is working with a board of directors, including former Judge Bill Weikert and Deputy Sheriff Jesus Monarrez, for the home. He also recently talked with Eber Menjivar from the Association of Latin Americans in Southern Indiana because he wants the Latino community in Dubois County to be involved, too.

For now, Crutchfield is working on the paperwork to officially become a nonprofit, which he said will take a few months. In the meantime, he’s talking to everyone he can about the home.

He wants people to call if they have any questions or suggestions, he said, or even if they just need someone to talk to.

One time, a man called him at 1:30 a.m. to try and leave a voicemail for his auto detailing business. Crutchfield didn’t know the number, but he answered.

“I always answer the phone,” he said. “That’s what you do when you’re in recovery. Someone calls, you pick up the phone. Sometimes that’s how we fight the urge to drink at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

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