All this time and the saying is wrong: Aurora, Illinois—not New York—is the City of Lights. Aurora earned this nickname in the early 20th century, being one of the first urban areas to use all-electric streetlights. It was really in the ‘60s, though, that Aurora, an outer region of Chicago, began to flourish, and it was in 1975 that a community coalition in Aurora began Breaking Free. The organization, formally incorporated two years after its inception, was created to serve families who contend with substance abuse and other challenges, on an outpatient level. Breaking Free is not a one size fits all organization; it provides individualized recovery plans to each client. White with bright blue awnings, Breaking Free shares building space with several businesses off a quiet road in downtown Aurora, minutes from the Fox River.
Treatment and Staff
There is no medical detox or inpatient treatment offered through Breaking Free, but it does offer outpatient counseling at the individual, group and family level. There are two tracks: intensive outpatient (IOP) and regular outpatient. Groups are divided by age into adolescent and adult; adult clients are separated again, for gender-specific counseling.
Clients who begin in IOP meet for group therapy three evenings a week. The men’s IOP groups cover anger management, the development of healthy coping skills and educational seminars about addiction. The women’s IOP group is called Project Safe. The emphasis of Project Safe is on providing motivation for women to restore balance to their family lives; part of this program includes parenting classes and addiction education. Once IOP clients are ready, they can step down to the outpatient level of care, joining people who have begun treatment there. Regular outpatient clients have group once a week and arrange for family and individual therapy on a case-by-case basis.
Special consideration is taken at Breaking Free for men and women with co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder. Executive Director Michael Moran coordinates specific service plans with these clients and the Medical Director to find the right balance of medication. Director Moran is a Master’s-level therapist and has certification in drug and alcohol counseling. The Director of Operations also has her Master’s in social work and a license to practice as a social worker. The rest of the staff members are CADCs and licensed mental health professionals.
The Breaking Free family program allows for family members to participate in treatment. Family is invited to attend addiction education seminars in both the men’s and women’s programs. Adult men and women are offered continuing care for three to six months after completing IOP, whether they decide to step down to the regular outpatient program or not.
Formal drug and alcohol evaluations are offered for clients of all ages. Independent anger management classes are offered to adolescents and adults and school-based counseling services are offered for adolescents.
Breaking Free makes a point to say it provides services to anyone, regardless of the client’s ability to pay for treatment. As its Facebook and Events section on its website attests, Breaking Free creates ample opportunity for the community to donate money and to get involved with its work. While some rehabs are closed systems, this facility is anything but—from its public presence in the community to its incorporation of family in the treatment process, Breaking Free’s unabashed presence is refreshing.
Breaking Free Location
120 Gale Street
Aurora, IL 60506
Breaking Free Cost
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