FARMINGTON — A year after it opened its doors, the transitional residential program known as Masada House is thriving and plans to expand its mission to include men.

Originally designed for women who are currently enrolled in or have completed a substance abuse program, Masada House provides support for a transition to a successful, drug-free life.

Transitional programs for recovering substance abusers are rare in San Juan County, and the need for additional facilities like Masada House has long been recognized.

Masada House recently obtained a two story building on Schofield Street that housed the Family Crisis shelter before it moved to its new facility, said Karen Chenault, the house's program director.

After renovations, which Chenault says may take up to a year, the house will serve as a transitional shelter for single men recovering from addiction.

The building was provided by the City of Farmington, which also intends to complete improvements on structural issues that include heat and air conditioning. Community Development Block Grant funds will assist with additional renovations, but Chenault said $10,000 to $20,000 more will need to be raised to finish construction and furnish the building.

For recovering addicts, such programs provide new connections and help develop healthy habits so they can successfully transition to a substance-free lifestyle.

"When people are at such a chronic level of abuse, most of their environment is centered around the drugs and/or the alcohol," Chenault said.


"Many don't have relationships with clean, sober people, and most of their friends are still using. One of the hardest things for an addict to do is to change all people, places and things, and many find themselves back under the influence of that lifestyle.

"Masada House allows them a safe, clean home environment where they can learn to be sober within their own community."

Eight women at a time live at Masada House, a comfortable three-story house located on south Dustin, and they stay for a period ranging from three months up to two years, depending on transitional needs.

The program utilizes trained substance abuse professionals, as well as peer-based mentoring, in which residents at different levels of recovery provide support and oversight to the newer residents. Residents receive coaching in life skills and employment assistance.

"Vic" (who asked that her last name not be used) is a recovering heroin addict who has been living at Masada House since December. She entered the program after graduating from 60 days at a drug treatment facility. Before entering treatment, the 25 year old spent eight months as an inmate at the San Juan County Detention Center.

"It's real important to have a place like Masada House because a lot of us don't have anywhere to go to when we get out," she said, explaining that her family members were living in hotels at the time of her release from treatment.

She added that the structured environment of Masada House is helping her in her recovery and transition to a substance-free lifestyle.

"That's what I need, to re-build that structure I lost when I started using drugs. I'll be here until I feel OK and get that feeling of structure back," she said.

Vic is currently taking a life skills and computer class at San Juan College, and hopes to eventually major in automotive technology and welding. She said her parents both successful graduates of separate substance abuse programs are supportive of her recovery efforts and of her plans to begin a new, substance-free life.

Not all of the women who have passed through Masada House have successfully completed the program, said Masada's house manager and business administrator Alice Kee.

"Fifteen did not complete the program for various reasons, but it was still a really positive experience for them to be a part of Masada House," she said.

While Masada House has filled some of the transitional gap for women, such programs for men have been sorely lacking until now.

"Su Hodgman, Masada House's founder, has a vision to continue filling the gaps in the community, going beyond housing just single men and women," Chenault said.

In the future, Masada House may even look into finding a way to provide transitional housing to families.

To raise additional funds needed for expansion, Masada House will be holding a 5K run/walk fundraiser on May 18, and is seeking sponsors and participants for the run. Registration for the event begins March 1.

The facility also welcomes volunteer mentoring help as well as donations of clothing for the women to wear to job interviews.

To find out more about Masada House or to register for the 5K run, contact Chenault at 505-325-9205.