Progress House helps addicts seeking structure and support

Posted at 8:21 AM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 08:22:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Josh Mills remembers the night he almost died. 

For a year and a half, he hopped from boarded-up houses to abandoned houses, fueling a pill-popping habit that had morphed into a heroin and meth addiction.

"I had nothing else," he said. "I had nothing else."

Josh believes the officer who arrested him in an abandoned house in Nov. 2015 was a godsend. 

"With being arrested ... the officer who arrested me, I feel like, was sent there to arrest me for a reason," Mills said. "It's not a coincidence."

He believes the officer, and Progress House on Indianapolis' near-east side, saved his life.

"This place is for guys who are beaten and broken," Mills said.

The night he got out of jail, he took his sister's tough love advice and walked to a place he knew nothing about.

"You don't come in here on a winning streak," he said. 

Progress House has been around since 1961 and can accommodate up to 75 men who choose to focus on recovery from addiction.

Dr. Timothy Kelly, an addictionologist for Community Health, is on the Board of Directors at Progress House.

"People who are suffering and have no real clue, many times, how to go about this, how to get pointed in the right direction," Kelly said. "There are a lot of people with active addictions who want to get better. They really don't like the life they're living, but they don't know how to go about it."

Progress House houses and  feeds people as they recover from addiction.

The house is not a lockdown or medical facility. The men who live there must pay a discounted rent, hold a job, do chores and attend group meetings. And typically, they make an agreement to stay for at least 90 days.

"You have to learn coping skills," Kelly said. "You have to become productive. You have to learn to let people help you. Give and take. And you help support and encourage others. "

For Mills, the motto resonates with him: "Progress, not perfection."

"As long as I was progressing in my recovery, that's all that mattered," Mills said. "I didn't need to be perfect."

Kelly said Indiana is in the top third of states dealing with overdoses and opioid addiction --- and firmly believes there aren't enough recovery homes in the metro area.

"The benefit of the structured supervision, accountability, focus on recovery, immersion process is huge," he said. "And there's just not enough of it."

There are less than 20 such homes in Indianapolis.

Kelly said he's especially having trouble finding places for women who struggle with addiction.

"We have some excellent programs but they often have a waiting list of like two months," he said.

Mills said he has no desire to touch heroin again, and now, he's on the staff at Progress House. 

"After being a resident here and then making the transition to staff, you see guys come in here, just as broken as you were when you came in here and watching them change," Mills said. "It's a beautiful thing."

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