Nov. 4, 2006
By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Christian Farms Treehouse Inc. of Temple received an anonymous contribution of $30,000 this week.
Attached to the check was a note of challenge to Bell County: 'Match this grant. Let's support this local drug rehab center in what it's doing. Its need is great - so let's help them together.'
'It's a much welcomed, much appreciated contribution,' said Jon Crosby, executive director of Christian Farms Treehouse Inc. in Temple. 'And we're eager to see what happens next.'
The contribution came in response to the institution's recent campaign for financial help. The Treehouse announced its fund-raising campaign in August through its newsletter, 'The Harvest,' which has a circulation of more than 2,000 readers throughout the Temple-Belton community. Crosby sent e-mails and letters to area businesses and organizations, requesting aid, as well.
'There was great support from the community, but despite all the sacrificial giving, we are still short,' Crosby said. 'About $50,000 short.'
Until this year, as a registered faith-based institution, Christian Farms Treehouse Inc. received $70,000 per year from the state of Texas to pay treatment costs for women on legal probation recovering from addiction to narcotics and/or alcohol.
But this year the state cut that sum to $20,000.
'This is the first year the state implied the cut,' Crosby said. 'And we feel its effects. We're more than $50,000 short in our operational budget. We were in need of finances before the cut was made.'
The average cost of treatment for one person is $3,500 per month. The Treehouse center services up to 48 women and their children.
In the past year, Treehouse clients have doubled the amount of money they contribute to the costs of their treatment.
'We've asked those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol to own their recovery,' Crosby said. 'And the clients themselves and their families have stepped up to pay what they can.'
The amount the clients contribute, however, isn't consistent because of their waivering financial stability.
'When people come to us, they need help,' Crosby said. 'And if they'll do a little, we'll do the rest to get them taken care of. That's our job.'
The treatment Addiction rehabilitation at Christian Farms Treehouse is not medical. It is spiritual.
'We intentionally don't use chemicals to fight chemicals,' Crosby said. 'Medicine doesn't fix the problems of the addicted.'
Oftentimes, medicine can worsen the problem.
'When methadone is used to treat heroine, an even stronger addiction develops to methadone until the person loses touch with reality altogether,' Crosby said.
Addiction might show similar symptoms of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but the causes are extremely different.
Mental illnesses stem from a chemical imbalance, which requires other chemicals to subdue the problem, Crosby said.
Addiction, however, stems from a person's decision to attempt to fill an emotional void with an external substance capable of creating a pleasing sensation, Crosby continued.
'The thing that caused the addiction in the first place is not a chemical,' Crosby said. 'Addiction is driven by the spiritual, emotional plane.'
So people in treatment at the Treehouse receive counseling in effort to determine what prompted them to seek solace in drugs or alcohol.
They also go to class and attend support group meetings on a regular schedule.
One set of classes teaches the clients the biological aspect of their addiction, why and how their bodies grew to need the drug to function.
The second set of classes explores the spiritual aspect of the clients' addiction.
'The clients have to confront their own lack of closeness to God,' Crosby said.
'Everything is in effort to prevent a relapse,' Crosby said. 'We want that person to grow and heal - so they don't feel a need to reach outside themselves for peace.'
The mentor-client relationship is another important tool in addiction recovery, Crosby added. Mentors are women who volunteer to befriend a client and become a confidante and role model.
'Most of time, the people who come here don't know what normal is. They don't know any normal people,' Crosby said. 'So we show them what normal is.'
From the mentors, clients get the opportunity to observe the life of a functioning member of society with adult responsibility. The clients see their mentors go to work, attend church, pay their bills and care for their families.
'The friendships that grow from these pairings often inspire the clients to join the churches and organizations their mentors attend,' Crosby said. 'It's an amazing process to watch.'
Back at the Treehouse center, the clients learn to practice the responsibilities they see their mentors practice in daily life.
'The clients cook, clean, make beds, wash clothes, go to celebrate recovery groups, go to church, obtain permission to leave the center and are allowed only six cigarettes a day,' Crosby said. 'The rule book is about 15-inches thick. These people have to want to change.'
And the ones who stay at the Treehouse do.
'The clients' desire must be that they themselves want to get off drugs and alcohol. They must admit that their life is out of control,' Crosby said. 'We don't keep anyone here against their will. If they'll do the work, we'll give them the support they need.'
Once the clients complete the treatment process and show signs of consistent stability, they become in-house residents.
'We help residents get jobs, take them to work, set them up a bank account and teach them to save money,' Crosby said. 'They work to save money for their own mode of transportation and their own housing.'
Sometimes residents choose to leave Bell County because they feel the need to distance themselves from their former life.
'People, places and things are the three things addicts need to change once recovered,' Crosby said. 'Former relationships are painful. And family members are often enablers. Recovered addicts need to stay independent and responsible for themselves.'
Just out of recovery, returning to one's familiar haunts can be a trap that leads to a relapse.
'And if a relapse happens like it sometimes does, we're here to support former clients,' Crosby said. 'Sometimes it takes more than one time through for a person to heal, depending on how deep their wound is.'
Addiction does not affect just one person. It affects entire families, many times creating a cycle of addiction and sometimes abuse.
Parenting skills and family life, therefore, are two topics that Treehouse clients study.
'We intervene with an pregnant woman to help her deal with her bitterness, anger, guilt and shame,' Crosby said. 'So she is saved and her child can be rescued from the experience the mom had.'
The cycle of addiction has got to be broken, he said.
'Nothing is more rewarding than to have someone call my name at the grocery store at have that person be a former client who tells me she has been clean and sober for 15 years,' Crosby said.
The power of song Crosby has partnered his interest in music with his desire to help people recover from addiction, and the result was a CD entitled 'Songs for Letting Go.'
All proceeds from the sale benefit Christian Farms Treehouse Inc.
'Music has a healing quality, especially when it comes from the should of the person who's sing it,' Crosby said. 'That's what I try to think of when I write songs.'
All of the songs on the CD are inspired by events in Crosby's life that have a significant meaning to him, from a memory with dad to the day his daughter was born.
His son Abel and brother Joe are Crosby's back-up singers on the CD.
Crosby said he uses songs from the CD as a form of musical therapy for Treehouse clients. He usually introduces his CD with the the song, 'Fat Man at the Table,' trying to impart the message that he knows what his clients are going through.
'I've always struggled with food, so many of us do,' Crosby said. 'It's not the same, of course, as an addiction to drugs or alcohol, but it is still a misplaced greed.'
Crosby used the Bible character of Esau to describe his fat man at the table.
'Esau is always grabbing at the wrong things, just like me always grabbing at food,' Crosby said. 'Esau learns he is wounded because God loves him. He was brought to place where he could encounter God.'
That's the same with the fat man, and the same with people addicted to drugs and alcohol.
'The CD tells the story of recovery,' Crosby said. 'And how people come to have a deeper meaning of life.'
Crosby has been the executive director at Christian Farms Treehouse for almost four years. Born in Gatesville, Crosby is a pastor with almost 20 years of experience ministering in several Texas towns. He was a pastor in the Temple area for almost 10 years.