Fairbanks Hospital calls themselves America’s single oldest independent drug and alcohol treatment facility. They began in 1945, when a doctor named Robert Nevitt and a man named William Brady conceived of the Indiana Home, a 12-bed detox for adult men. A land grant and some financial aid allowed the facility to expand in the ‘60s. They expanded again in 1982, when they moved to their current location and expanded their substance abuse treatment programming to adults and adolescents.
Fairbanks Hospital’s home base is in Indianapolis where they offer detox, short-term inpatient treatment and outpatient services—there’s also a sober living down the road. Fairbanks offers a separate residential treatment program for adults called La Verna Lodge, and has an outpatient satellite office in Plainfield.
Accommodations and Food
The Fairbanks Hospital campus consists of two main buildings, namely the short-term inpatient facility and the Recovery Center. The Recovery Center is where Hope Academy, Fairbanks’ recovery high school, is located. It’s also where Fairbanks hosts its outpatient programs, social events and support groups.
The inpatient building has an inviting, cozy entrance with a well-tended arrangement of trees and flowers out front. The dorm-style housing is gender and age specific, with approximately 100 beds. Two clients share each room, sleeping on twin beds and splitting closet space. Unlike a traditional hospital setting, it is the resident’s responsibility to wash their own sheets and towels, and to bring laundry detergent.
The basic bedrooms might not be much to write home about but the cafeteria is. It is bright and modern, full of stellar windows and white tables. Meals are served buffet-style so there are options for those on special diets and there is always a salad bar. Clients also have the use of a full-sized gymnasium with a basketball court, a separate exercise room and an on-site chapel.
Treatment and Staff
Fairbanks Hospital offers medical detox and short-term residential treatment for adults. Clients typically detox for several days, altogether detox and treatment together typically take two to four weeks. Most residents also require medical intervention, for withdrawal symptoms and for dual diagnosis issues. While in treatment, clients attend group therapy, educational lectures and discussion groups. There is also a day of family therapy where visitors learn about the disease of addiction and what it means as a family disease. Individual therapy and psychiatric visits are scheduled on a per client basis.
While inpatient stays might be short, residents are encouraged to follow up with Fairbanks’ outpatient program. Some clients move home, while others can continue onto sober living apartments. Residents in the apartments can stay three weeks while they complete the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) of outpatient care; some stay three months, for both the PHP and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP). On the longer end of things, some stay a year or more as they move out of the outpatient phase entirely and into aftercare, attending just a single hour-long meeting at the Recovery Center per week.
The adult outpatient program has several phases: PHP, IOP and regular outpatient. The partial hospitalization program is three weeks long, the intensive outpatient program is six weeks long and the basic outpatient program is such a low stakes time commitment that many clients continue at this level of care for three to six months.
Partial hospitalization means that for three weeks, Monday through Friday, clients are in treatment from 8 am to 4 or 5 pm. During these three weeks, on top of participation in groups and individual therapy, clients are required to attend nine support group meetings (like 12-step) per week. At the IOP level, clients are required to attend three groups a week which each last three hours, and most continue to meet with a counselor individually; regular outpatient meets only once a week. The curriculum Fairbanks uses in its groups is PRIME for Life, an evidence-based education program for men and women with high-risk behaviors involving drugs or alcohol. All the above services are provided to adolescents as well.
While the majority of programming is similar, families are involved more deeply in the adolescent program with a central focus of educating the whole family about chemical dependency. Every Thursday night is a “family night,” where families are invited to eat dinner together in the cafeteria before a multi-family process group and a family education group. Clients also do plenty of work on their own—in peer groups guided by a licensed counselor, everyone is educated about the cycle of addiction, how to prevent relapse and how to adopt the necessary skills for recovery.
Fairbanks’ treatment teams include counselors, techs, nurses and psychiatrists. All the counselors at Fairbanks Hospital are required to have Master’s-level degrees in social work, psychology, addiction or other related human service fields. Techs work under the direction of a nurse, are unlicensed, and provide ancillary support to the rest of the treatment team. Fairbanks has a full staff to manage their client volume; in the women’s residential unit, for example, there are 26 beds and the staff-to-client ratio is approximately one-to-five with a full house.
Fairbanks Hospital provides extensive support meetings as part of ongoing and aftercare programming; 12-step meetings for everything from alcoholism to codependency, gambling and overeating. In addition they host SMART recovery meetings and family support groups. These meetings can be attended by anyone who needs them.
The facility can also connect current and graduating clients with staff recovery coaches to work with in the first year of their sobriety, who can help clients, especially adolescents, stay on track. According to a Fairbanks PSA, within the first six months of treatment, up to 80 percent of adolescent addicts relapse. That daunting statistic is what inspired Fairbanks Hospital to create their recovery high school, Hope Academy. Students work towards their high school diploma in traditional classroom settings while simultaneously working a recovery and wellness program.
Fairbanks Hospital is adamant about protecting the long-term sobriety of its clients, and the real strength of their programming is the multitude of services they provide to ensure solid recovery. Another benefit is Fairbanks’ accommodation of families; while some outpatient programs might do the occasional family session with an individual counselor, Fairbanks offers parent-only support groups and family education groups on a regular basis.
Fairbanks Recovery Center
1802 Clearvista Pkwy
Indianapolis, IN 46256
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