Chuck S. was just fifteen years old when his substance abuse began. In 2009, about five years before his first attempt to stop, he realized drugs were a problem for him. In 2014, with no support or education about recovery, he locked himself into his apartment and attempted detoxing on his own.
That began a three year cycle of using, trying to stop, and using again. At various times he was homeless, in hospitals or in jail. He ended up in therapy at the Talbott House where he attended a Substance Abuse and Mental Illness group (SAMI). There he met members of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and finally achieved becoming clean on September 29, 2017.
Chuck committed to a NA home group and grew in fellowship by attending meetings regularly, contributing to the group, and helping out. During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, meetings ceased as state mandates prevented in-person gatherings. When restrictions eased, Chuck's home group learned that the community building they had been meeting in was no longer available. It was as he was searching for a place for his NA home group to meet that Chuck learned about The Annex of Madi's House.
"Madi's House didn't look like where we usually met," Chuck said. The room is designed as a warm, personal space with couches, a foosball table, and some exercise equipment. "It looked like someone's living room, just bigger. It looked like it was made for us. I couldn't think of a place I would rather meet."
Besides providing a comfortable physical space, Madi's House is designed to foster connections. The difference between socializing at Madi's and socializing with a specific fellowship is that Madi's House is not affiliated with any other recovery group such as NA or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). "Madi's House is just there to help people in general recovery," Chuck said. "Madi's House gives the recovery community an open space to connect and intermingle which we don't have much of. It's a welcoming, neutral ground," he added.
The design for Madi's House was imagined by Madi Raleigh, a young adult who struggled with mental health issues and addiction herself and died by suicide in 2019. Madi's House is her vision on how to best support young adults trying to manage these challenges. She told her parents, "If only there was a place to just hang out and have fun for people like me."
"Steve and Julie don't shy away from their daughter's story," Chuck said. "They are brave enough to open up and use Madi's story to do some good, which is amazing. It encourages others. It touches so many people. They put a lot of their heart into this."
Chuck is grateful for Madi's House. "Without Madi's House, my recovery and my life would be less rich. I would have fewer connections to people I can help and people whose help I can definitely use," he said.
If you are looking for a welcoming place where friendship and fun can be found, consider Chuck's advice: "I don't know a better place to find a meeting or just to feel not alone than Madi's House."