SALISBURY – An Ocean Pines Police detective in search of answers to the growing heroin epidemic has opened a new recovery house in Salisbury with the support of family, friends and community members.
Tish Ottey, founder of the new Douglas K. Hamilton House for Recovery, said she realized the need for additional resources after the heroin epidemic made its way into the Ocean Pines community in 2012. The arrests that shortly followed, she said, was a concern.
“As police officers, I thought we should know the answers,” she said, “and I was at a loss.”
Ottey explained that police officers weren’t aware of resources available to the addicts and concerned family members.
“It’s something we as police officers have been dealing with for some time,” she said.
Last year, Ottey joined the Worcester County Warriors Against Opiate Addiction in an effort to learn about and provide resources.
She said it was during this time she started looking for an investment property that would operate as a recovery house, something she said was needed in the area.
Her search ultimately led her to Salisbury, where she found a seven-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home near downtown.
“I knew there was a need up there and it was affordable,” she said.
In recent months, Ottey said she has been working to renovate the house, meet neighbors and secure the necessary paperwork and certifications from both the city and the Maryland Recovery Organization Connecting Communities (M-ROCC) organization. She has also enlisted the guidance of an advisory board. These board members include a pastor, doctor, marketer, a volunteer coordinator and those with experience in addiction.
Ottey said Greg Whittaker will act as the new house manager and will live there full time to supervise tenants.
Whittaker said he was working at Second Wind, a halfway house in Salisbury, when Director Jim Freeman referred him to Ottey.
Whittaker, who was a resident at Second Wind, said recovery houses are a vital part of both the community and a person’s recovery, but are often in short supply.
“Society wants you to go to rehab,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of us are in dire straits. When we get out of rehab, we have nowhere to go.”
Whittaker, a recovering addict, said he spent much of his life abusing alcohol and a multitude of drugs.
“I absolutely had to have it,” he said,
“or I wasn’t going to survive.”
After years of addiction and homelessness, Whittaker said he followed friends from New Mexico to Maryland, where he worked on his recovery in halfway houses.
“In my heart, it was done,” he said. “They were here to plant a seed and nurture that.”
Now Whittaker, a graduate of Wor-Wic Community College’s chemical dependency counseling program, is working with Ottey at the Douglas K. Hamilton House for Recovery to help and support those transitioning from addiction to recovery.
“God had a plan and that’s why I’m here,” he said. “I’ve been waiting on him to show me.”
Ottey said the house will be a structured environment for men ages 18 and older who are in recovery.
In accordance with the house’s rules, she explained that those who move in are required to find a job within two weeks or acquire financial assistance from family to focus solely on their recovery. They must also participate in volunteer work, as well as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
“They don’t have to think a whole lot on what they are supposed to be doing,” Ottey said.
The Douglas K. Hamilton House for Recovery is now open. Ottey said tenants will be responsible for seeking reasonable accommodations from the city once a third tenant moves into the home and must request a functional family status once a fourth person enters.
For more information, contact Ottey at 443-523-4459 or email email@example.com.
An upcoming open house will take place May 10 from 5-7 p.m., where family, friends and neighbors will be recognized for the work in establishing the recovery house.
Ottey said the house has been a labor of love for her family and a namesake for her father, Douglas K. Hamilton, an educator who died two years ago.
“He believed in starting over and forgiveness,” she said.