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Father and daughter team up to open rehab facility

Written by Terrie Morgan-Besecker/The Times-Tribune | Jul 18, 2018 7:00 AM
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Newsrooms across the commonwealth have spent years documenting the opioid crisis in their own communities. But now, in the special project State of Emergency: Searching for Solutions to Pennsylvania's Opioids Crisis, we are marshalling resources to spotlight what Pennsylvanians are doing to try to reverse the soaring number of overdose deaths.

WITF is releasing more than 60 stories, videos and photos throughout July. This week, you will find stories about treatment facilities and recovery.

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Endless Mountains Extended Care Center co-owner and counselor Arianne Scheller relaxes in a large room with her 2-year-old son Stephen Strauch. The future center is located near Factoryville. (Butch Comegys/Times-Tribune Photographer)

 

(Factoryville) -- The daughter of a recovering substance abuser, Arianne Scheller of Scranton knows the struggles families and addicts face.

She was in high school when her father, Stephen Scheller, began his fight to overcome addiction. Twenty years later, Scheller is a licensed counselor and her father is still sober.

Now, they are teaming up to help others.

The father and daughter soon will open the Endless Mountains Extended Care drug rehabilitation facility in Factoryville. The intensive, inpatient program center is the first of its kind in Wyoming County.

"My father was on death's door," Scheller said. "No one thought he was going to make it. A program helped pull him through. ... He came to me and said, 'You have the degree. I have the sobriety. Let's do something.'"

Scheller, 38, said the 25-bed facility, at 1042 Lithia Valley Road, differs from short-term programs that typically last 28 to 30 days and focus on detoxification and medically stabilizing clients.

"A lot of people go for 28 days and that's not enough for them," Scheller said, noting that relapse rates are 40 to 60 percent following a first attempt at treatment. "We pick up where the 30-day programs leave off."

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Maintenance worker Willie Hedden, 52, a recovering alcoholic and sober for three years, plants flowers outside the main entrance of the future site of the Endless Mountains Extended Care Center near Factoryville. (Butch Comegys/Times-Tribune)

The center is similar to a halfway house except it offers much more intensive oversight and training, she said. Clients will spend at least 90 days at the Endless Mountains program, which will focus on providing counseling and teaching patients life skills and coping strategies needed to ensure longterm sobriety.

"In an extended care center, you are doing more than just rehabilitation," said Michael Donahue, director of human services for Wyoming County. "You are not just giving them tools to recover. You are giving them life skills training."

The facility will treat men only, ages 18 and up. Most patients likely will be in the age 18 to 25 range and many will have had at least one failed attempt at recovery, Scheller said. Clients must be sober at least 30 days to be admitted, she said.

The center will not offer detoxification services.

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Standing in the new kitchen area, Leo Vergnetti, drug and alcohol consultant, front, and co-owner Stephen Scheller at the future Endless Mountains Extended Care Center near Factoryville. (Butch Comegys/Times-Tribune)

Expected to open in August, the center awaits license approval from the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. Scheller will be clinical director; other staff will include certified drug and alcohol counselors, aides and a program manager.

While extended care facilities have been around for years nationwide, Scheller said the treatment was inaccessible for most people because insurance often did not cover the stay. That changed in recent years as research shows people who go through the programs are more likely to stay clean longer, she said.

Donahue said the facility will provide much-needed services in Wyoming County.

"More and more kids are starting to use substances at a younger age and become addicted very quickly," he said. "They never learned basic skills because substance abuse got in the way. ... Extended care gives them the opportunity to work on finding employment, get back to school -- whatever is necessary to get back their lives and give them a chance to live."

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