Rotary introduced to 12 Step program in CC jail
By Sarah Einselen
The Galion Rotary club learned at its Wednesday, Jan. 11, meeting about a new addiction recovery program that local pastor Margie Maddox launched in the Crawford County Jail.
Maddox, who also counsels recovering addicts and volunteers in the jail as the community chaplain, started teaching the curriculum “Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus” in the summer and graduated the first class in October. Her husband John also teaches and supports Margie’s outreach. The program is based on principles in the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
“It is AA principles because when you do any programs inside the jails, you have to use AA principles because a lot of them won’t take faith-based programs,” Margie said. She teaches in eight or nine correctional facilities, she said, including some for juveniles. Outside of the jails, participants meet in one of a few churches in the area that host 12 Step meetings.
The program teaches participants, whether alcohol or drug addicts, that they are sick people trying to get well rather than bad people trying to be good, Margie said. “It’s more than just being sober,” she added. “We teach them a new way of life.”
Margie estimated that she and her husband supplied about 300 workbooks last year in addition to Life Recovery Bibles, journals, highlighters and pens. “Some of them can barely read and write but we give them hope,” Margie said.
Two graduates from the program in the Crawford County Jail also addressed the Rotarians. Michelle Webb, one of the graduates, abused substances for 15 years, going in and out of jail during that time. She landed in jail again in March 2011, where four months afterward she started attending the 12 Step meetings.
“Since then I realized I couldn’t struggle with addiction on my own,” Webb said. “I had to turn to God for help.” She graduated in October from the program and has been clean 10 months.
Jeremy Lewis, the other graduate to speak to Rotarians, said he had used drugs since he was 10 years old. “Without this program I’d never have made it,” he said. “I grew up in facilities, prisons. I always wanted to get well but I couldn’t find a way.”
Lewis and Webb are in training to facilitate other groups and Lewis participates in a new set of meetings being held at the Bucyrus United Methodist Church.
Lewis emphasized the role and other volunteers have in demonstrating healthy living to current and former addicts. “These people really depend on us to show them,” he said. “They think that if I’ve done it, then they can.
“I can finally be the father and provider that I should be,” Lewis said. “I’m just proud to be here today, clean, sober and a Christian.”
Attending 12 Step meetings after getting out of jail allows former addicts to lift each other up and support each other, Margie said. Otherwise, they stand a greater chance of falling back into old ways. It’s important for program grads to stay busy and in touch with others trying to stay out of addiction, said Margie, so they can keep moving forward and not revert to old habits in idle time. It’s a challenge since many of them don’t have their driver’s license, she said. She ends up ferrying several to and from meetings and community service projects, logging about 800 miles a week between that and the classes she drives to for teaching.
But Margie has no doubt that the program is worth all the effort.
“If I can change the way they feel about themselves and the pain, I can change the way they think about themselves,” she said. “I know the program works. I’ve seen it working in the jails.”