December 6, 2018
Inside the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center (ADC), 11 inmates with an array of criminal charges have at least two things in common. They have a history of substance use disorders (drug and/or alcohol addictions). And they are committed to holding themselves accountable while finding a new way to live.
On November 1, 2018, Sheriff Stacey Kincaid launched a highly structured, intensive treatment and recovery program in the ADC. She plans to expand the program for men in 2019 and open a recovery unit for women, who make up about 17 percent of the ADC population.
A participant named Aaron says the program is going well. “It’s given me an opportunity to look at myself and the part I have played in all the negative things that have happened in my life. It’s also given me a new perspective on how to deal with the good and the bad without using a substance.”
Jonathan has the same positive thoughts about the program and being held accountable. “This is a huge learning experience for us. The program shows us how to live a healthy lifestyle that is not just for us but for our families and our community when we are released.”
Kincaid and her staff spent several months visiting and studying other jail-based recovery programs to find best practices to incorporate in Fairfax. Participants are housed together and receive several hours of daily programming that focuses on recognizing trauma, identifying triggers, managing stress and developing social supports.
“We are giving these men a real opportunity,” Kincaid says. “If they are ready for and committed to recovery, the tools are here for them.”
Kincaid says her goal for all inmate programs is to return men and women to the community as better people than when they came to jail. “There are no guarantees, especially with addiction recovery. But you cannot start the road to recovery until you take the first step.”
Dex is another member of the group. He is 34 years old and has struggled with addiction to methamphetamines since he was 20. He attended college and wanted to start a business, become an entrepreneur. “Instead, I became a drug dealer.”
He talks about his family and their unconditional love. His mom is a PhD. His dad is a lawyer. His three younger sisters are all successful. “I was not a good role model for them, but I still have a lot of potential left.” What he likes most about the program are the certified peer specialists who run group discussions. “They are in recovery and can relate with us. That’s what makes all the difference.”
Dex and the others call it a privilege to be in a therapeutic, supportive setting during a period of incarceration. “This environment is conducive to change,” he says. “At times, it takes us out of our comfort zone when we least expect it. It’s an essential time for us to grow.”
For more information about the program, please email the Sheriff’s Office. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, help is available from the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.