For a Brighter Tomorrow helps bridge the gap to recovery

Addiction is when you can’t get enough of what you don’t want anymore. | Deepak Chopra

Many of those struggling with addiction have managed to stay on the road to recovery with the help of organizations like one Midland-based nonprofit, For a Brighter Tomorrow (FABT).

When FABT co-founder Lori Wood lost one of her daughters to an overdose in 2012, she and two friends Jackie Maxwell and Mary Knowlton were determined to help increase the likelihood of success for recovering substance abusers. With that goal in mind, the group founded FABT in 2015.

Ribbon Cutting for the new location of FABT's office.

“We help people for a period of 90 days,” says Terry Hanley, Executive Director of FABT. “Beyond that, we feel would be enabling them and we don’t want to do that. We just want to help them get back on their feet and back into a normal routine.”

Some of the ways FABT assists a person in recovery are by helping with the expenses of drug testing and drug counseling, court fees, or organizing transportation with getting to and from jobs.

“We also offer gift cards for Shelterhouse’s clothing resale store,” Hanley says. “So, if they need to get a dress or a suit for an interview, we can give them a coupon to do that.”

To date, FABT has helped over 400 people sustain recovery.

Hanley and his wife Susan got involved with the organization in 2015 after Hanley’s stepson Zachary died in 2013 from an overdose.

“I don’t want parents to have to go through what we did,” Hanley says. “I go into schools and talk and to me, that’s the biggest thing, educating children to not even get started down this path. Specifically, the amount of support that we’ve received for this fight with opioids in our community has just been amazing.”

Aside from individual support, Hanley says FABT works with local law enforcement and other organizations such as Ten16 Recovery Network, The Legacy Center, and Families Against Narcotics (FAN). The organization also just moved into a new office at 1509 Washington in Midland. The new office is more accommodating for public transportation.

“There’s so many different groups now that are helping and battling the same thing,” Hanley says. “I love to see that other groups are joining in and becoming a part of this fight, doing what they can in our community to make it happen.”

The organization helps work with people on the road to recovery.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2017 2,694 people died from drug overdose just in the state of Michigan. That number has steadily increased since 2014, where there were 1,762 deaths.  

According to Midland Police Department Administrative Sergeant, Christopher Wenzell, since January 1, 2019, there have been approximately 42 overdoses in Midland. Those numbers include overdoses from drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and opiate pills, amongst others.

Wenzell says he has worked with FABT over the years through public speaking events or Facebook live videos to raise awareness for suicide as well as for people struggling with addiction to opiates.

For a Brighter Tomorrow celebrated the new office with a ribbon cutting last week.

He says if a person, or their family, need assistance that is where they can then refer them to FABT or FAN.

“They are doing a lot of good things over the past few years with helping reduce the stigma associated with addiction,” Wenzell says. “Several years ago, this wouldn’t have been talked about in the fashion it is today.”

To date, FABT has been able to help over 400 people sustain their recovery from the disease of addiction. One of those individuals is Adam Wittbrodt.

Lori Wood, founding member of For a Brighter Tomorrow.

Wittbrodt began struggling with substance abuse in 1999 after pulling a muscle in his neck playing baseball. To help alleviate the pain of the injury, Wittbrodt’s doctor gave him a prescription for Vicodin, one of the most popular prescription painkillers and misused drugs in the United States. The recommended dosage of Vicodin for adults is one or two tablets, depending on the level of pain, every four to six hours.

“My mom was giving me the medication at the time. I was going to her every three to four hours asking for more medication, which she didn't give me,” Wittbrodt says. “With my experience now, looking back that was definitely a red flag. I really liked the feeling of them. I should have known then that I needed to stay away from these.”

Wittbrodt’s sports injury started a pattern of addiction that he struggled with for more than 16 years.

Wood lost her daughter Ashley to an overdose in 2012.

“It snowballed over the years,” Wittbrodt says. “When the Vicodin wasn’t enough anymore, I built up a tolerance, I switched over to OxyContin. Then when the availability of the OxyContin went away that’s when I turned to heroin, because it was readily available.”

Wittbrodt had issues with the law over the years and was incarcerated as a result of his struggle with drug addiction.

A report from Detox.net examined each state’s average duration of incarceration for people with drug offenses. In Michigan, the average was 77 months.

In the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency’s (SFA) August 2015 Issue Paper for the year 2014-2015, on average, each prisoner costs $38,171.

"We just want to make sure people understand they are not alone."

In the Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that incarcerating people with drug addiction ultimately ends up being more expensive than to just provide treatment to the individual.

Wittbrodt was released from jail in December 2016. After overdosing the following January, Wittbrodt decided to seek help for his addiction. With the help of FABT, Wittbrodt has been in recovery since June 2016.

“What they do is really good for someone coming into recovery with limited resources and who really wants to try,” Wittbrodt says. “In the early days of recovery, a lot of things can tip the scales to get you to go back to using. It can be as simple as stress from finances; do I buy groceries or pay the rent?”

Wittbrodt says a big reason he didn’t seek help sooner was because of the shame associated with having a substance use disorder.

For a Brighter Tomorrow typically helps people for a period of 90 days.

“I was ashamed that I went back to it, or was using in the first place. I was afraid to admit it,” Wittbrodt says. “Now, it hurts less to ask for help than to continue.”

Hanley says not being afraid to seek help is what he wants to emphasize the most for those interested in recovery.

“We just want to make sure they understand that they are not alone,” Hanley says. “There are people out there that are willing to help you get through this.”

For more information or to inquire about current needs for supply donations, call (989) 330-9035 or stop by the office at its new location at 1509 Washington Suite E in Midland. The office is open Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

If you or someone you know needs help visit forabrightertomorrow.org for a list of resources or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) national helpline at (800) 662-4357.

 

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