Hope, recovery set to take root

ROOTSTOWN — As former president of Warren Fabricating and Machining, Regina Mitchell’s reality found it difficult to fill positions in the family-owned business because so many applicants failed drug tests.

But even as four of 10 candidates failed a drug test and an employee found a piece of drug paraphernalia in a restroom, Mitchell was hiding a secret — her own alcohol and substance use addiction.

“I thought I could hide it,” Mitchell said.

And she did, serving as president of a thriving company that’s headquartered in Hubbard.

But her mother eventually noticed signs that something was wrong. When confronted, Mitchell knew she needed help breaking the cycle of a family history of alcoholism.

“There is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism in my family,” Mitchell said. “But nobody had called it what it is.”

Mitchell, who also became addicted to drugs in the early part of the 2000s, got “clean” in 2005 through the help of 12-step programs. She now serves as a sponsor for other women.

Mitchell is careful with her use of the word “addict.” She says it conjures images of homeless drug users living under bridges or people who have been deemed to have moral failings.

“This disease doesn’t discriminate,” Mitchell said. “No one is immune.”

Mitchell left Warren Fab in 2017 to co-found Hope Village in Rootstown with Ted St. John. It opens Monday.

The facility will offer intensive outpatient treatment, including assessment, case management, and family and individual counseling. Mitchell said Hope Village will focus more on recovery than addiction treatment.

“We’ll refer patients who need detox services to others,” Mitchell said. “We will work with our neighbors in the treatment field.”

St. John wasn’t immune to addiction, either. Just as Mitchell’s mother confronted her, St. John had a discussion with his mother about his drug and alcohol use.

Drawing on their own experiences, combating stigma and crafting recovery plans will be a big part of the pair’s new venture.

St. John, co-owner and chief of operations, said Hope Village will deliver “person-centered” care, making patients “experts” in their own recovery.

“We will not be a one-size-fits-all center,” said Mitchell.

Hope Village will help those in treatment navigate through other challenges in their lives, including employment, housing and transportation.

“We will help them make a plan. In some cases, they may not be the best advocates for themselves,” St. John said.

And through it all, both partners will continue in their efforts to change the language of addiction and alter the public’s perception of it.

“People say it’s a choice,” said St. John. “The first use might be a choice, but after that, your need for the drug becomes like air.”

ckromer@tribtoday.com

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