Holistic recovery center for treating substance use disorders to open in Kalamazoo

Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan's Second Wave's On the Ground Kalamazoo series.
KALAMAZOO, MI – A New Jersey-based drug and alcohol treatment provider hopes to open its first recovery center outside of the Garden State after it completes the conversion of an unused space on Kalamazoo’s Westside.
Enlightened Solutions Treatment Center, of Egg Harbor City, N.J., is anticipating the completion of reconstruction work at 1430 Alamo Ave. It is to become Enlightened Recovery.
“It’s a drug and alcohol treatment center that focuses on the whole person using a lot of holistic remedies integrated with traditional, clinical, and medical practices,” explains Jennifer Hansen, chief executive officer of Enlightened Solutions.
Jennifer Hansen is CEO of New Jersey-based Enlightened Recovery, which hopes to open its first out-of-state location soon in Kalamazoo.Saying there is a good need for the services in Michigan, Hansen says Enlightened Recovery wants not only to teach people how to stop using drugs but also to help them find ways to live a more fulfilling life.
“We don’t want to just teach them how to stop using drugs, we also want to teach them how to feel good, and you feel a lot better when you’re eating healthy and exercising and getting high on life,” Hansen says.
Enlightened Recovery hopes to open in May. It plans to offer a range of comprehensive and individualized services to help individuals recover from substance use disorders as well as overcome accompanying mental health disorders. Hansen touts the benefits of helping individuals recover as a whole person based on her experience struggling with drug addiction. It took her from the streets of New Jersey to treatment facilities in California. She has been clean and sober since 1996.
She founded the nonprofit Hansen Foundation in 1999 to fund sober living facilities for men and women in Southern New Jersey. The organization, in turn, gave rise to Enlightened Solutions Inc. and a group of residential treatment facilities that are intended to provide a unique and more holistic approach to recovery and sobriety— including diet and exercise, nutritional counseling, and stress-reduction techniques such as art, sound, yoga, and other therapies. Services also include peer support, medication-assisted treatment, psychoeducational, group therapy, and life skills development.
Enlightened Recovery is an alcohol and substance abuse treatment center that hopes to open this summer at 1430 Akamai Ave. In Kalamazoo.“We really believe in a person becoming fully sustainable,” Hansen says in information explaining the program. She says the organization’s hashtag “Be enlightened” refers to helping people awaken the soul, the body, and the mind.
Efforts by property owner Capital Health Group to gut, and then rebuild the interior of the one-story, 36,000-square-foot structure on Alamo Avenue (about a quarter-mile west of Douglas Avenue) began about two years ago. It is the former location of an assisted living center for seniors.
The operation will employ about 50 people, including a clinical team and a nursing team. Those interested in learning about employment opportunities may visit info@enlightenedrecovery.com
The Kalamazoo facility will have about 92 beds organized in one- and two-person rooms. Each room pairing will share a bathroom. There will be a residential wing for men and a separate wing for women, as well as a wing dedicated to detoxification. There will also be space for dining, clinical services, and intensive outpatient services.
Local manager Blaire Zielke stands in a one-person room at Enlightened Recovery of Kalamazoo.“The idea is that after they graduate from residential (treatment), they would continue coming for their outpatient services,” says Blair Zielke, executive director for Enlightened Recovery in Kalamazoo. That is for patients who live in the area.
“If they are coming from another part of Michigan, obviously we would link them up with outpatient services where they live,” Zielke says.
She says that normally an intensive outpatient program is three hours a day, three days a week. “So they would normally come at night, like 6 to 9 p.m.,” she says. According to information provided by Enlightened Recovery, the residential treatment program is a 24-hour-a-day experience that typically lasts about 30 days.
Zielke says the facility will not offer outpatient services when it opens. They will be added a few months after the opening.
Ziekle is a Kalamazoo resident who was previously director of clinical operations for Forest View Hospital in Grand Rapids, and before that was a clinical social worker at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital.
The outside of Enlightened Recovery at 1430 Alamo Ave.Hansen says her company is working with Capital Health Group, which owns assisted living facilities nationwide for seniors and those suffering from memory loss, to put the Alamo Avenue location back into use.
“They own that building and wanted to revise it,” Hansen says. “They wanted to bring in a quality operator to run it and they approached us.”
Although it has not been in the drug and alcohol treatment business, Capital Health saw the need for residential treatment here.
“There is absolutely a need,” Ziekle says of residential drug treatment.
She mentioned various treatment centers in other Michigan cities as assets for people struggling with addiction. “However, if you look at the state as a whole, there’s just not a lot of treatment options,” she says. “And especially regarding withdrawal management and residential facilities.”
nlightenment Recovery treatment center that is under construction at 1430 Alamo Ave. in Kalamazoo.She says that while Kalamazoo County is doing fairly well in terms of its ranking on Michigan’s Substance Use Vulnerability Index, adjacent counties are not. The index uses several factors to try to rate each county’s vulnerability “to adverse outcomes associated with substance abuse.” The index is intended to be used as a tool to help authorities guide planning and policies related to fighting substance use disorders.
Kalamazoo County is 50th out of Michigan’s 83 counties in terms of its vulnerability. But, Zielke says, Cass, St Joseph, and Van Buren counties are worse. “If you look at Van Buren County, they are like eighth,” she says. “So our surrounding rural areas need a place to go. They need treatment.”
Here is a look inside the Enlightenment Recovery treatment center that is under construction at 1430 Alamo Ave. in Kalamazoo.She also says, “If you look at Kalamazoo County specifically in the whole state of Michigan it had the highest positivity rate for methamphetamines.”
Ziekle says a lot of attention is being paid to the use of opioids and fentanyl. But she says there’s a crisis with addictions of all sorts.
“Yes, there is a focus on opioids,” she says. “There’s a focus on fentanyl. And we’re now learning about Xylazine. But cocaine is still an issue that we see. Alcohol is still an issue that we see. And then meth.”
A courtyard is at the center of Enlightenment Recovery, which is under construction at 1430 Alamo Ave. in Kalamazoo.Enlightened Recovery’s goal is to serve the entire state. “So we will get into a contract with commercial providers, public funders and we hope to be able to accept patients from all over the state,” Zielke says.
But she says the facility will first have to pass muster with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Hansen is excited about the possibilities of the new location, saying, “This will be a big project for us.”

A worker paints a community room inside the new Enlightened Recovery treatment center in Kalamazoo on Monday, March 25, 2024. “It’s going to be a first-class facility and it’s going to be run by a lot of really caring people,” Hansen says, mentioning that some of her staff members have recovered from addictions. “… We are compassionate toward the needs of people struggling with addiction and we believe in the health of the whole person,” she says. “So we focus a lot on nutrition and exercise and bringing someone back to their ultimate health.”

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Al Jones is a freelance writer who has worked for many years as a reporter, editor, and columnist. He is the Project Editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo.