Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cheryl Finley recalls her son's experience with recovery house living

Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Benjamin Finley and his mom Cheryl Finley
During his struggle with heroin addiction, Cheryl Finley believes her son was happiest when he was living among other men who were also struggling to overcome their drug demons.
Benjamin Finley first stayed at a Pottstown recovery house following 30 days of inpatient rehabilitation in January 2012, Finley said. The house was recommended by the drug treatment center, she said.
He liked the house, but after a month there, he couldn’t find a job and had no transportation, so he returned to his mom’s Bristol Township home.
He eventually he relapsed, and after another 30 days of inpatient rehab, Benjamin entered a Bensalem recovery house that included dinners and weekly group therapy sessions with a counselor. He shared a bedroom with two men for $155 a week.
One day, the house manager told her son he had to move into a basement bedroom to make room for a new person. Finley described the room as roughly the size of a large closet with a set of bunk beds and a dresser with a narrow path in between. After her son spoke to the home's owner, he agreed to fix up a larger basement room.
Benjamin was OK with that, she said, and he found a full-time job at a Bensalem manufacturing plant within biking distance.
“He loved it. It was the best time of this whole ordeal," Finley said. "The group of guys he was living with became very close and supportive. I think it was the happiest time for him in recent years."
That was until a bitter December night, when she said he was offered heroin at the recovery house -- and shot up.
Benjamin immediately regretted it and confessed to the owner, Finley said. They were all kicked out, but Benjamin was told he could return in three days if he passed a drug test. He did and the owner moved him into a different recovery house he owned.
His second chance lasted about a month.
On Jan. 11, 2013, Bensalem police found Benjamin dead of a heroin overdose in a motel not far from the recovery house. He was a few weeks shy of his 26th birthday.
Finley said she doesn’t blame the recovery house operator for what happened to her son. But she does wonder why no one oversees the condition of these houses and what goes on there.

“Are they there to pay the rent or are they really interested in these people’s well-being?” she said. “These are people’s lives at stake. You want to try to make it as successful as possible.”
Jo Ciavaglia: 215-949-4181; email:; Twitter: @JoCiavaglia

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