A recently opened home in Marysville will be the 300th Oxford House in the state which provides self-run addiction recovery support.
The houses are not the large facilities some may think of when it comes to drug recovery, but instead are small units within neighborhoods that provide people with drug abuse problems a chance to come together and help each other.
“I have a strong passion for Oxford House because it really shattered the thought that I wasn’t worth it, that I couldn’t do it,” said Ricky Mogel, outreach services representative with Oxford House.
Mogel lived in an Oxford House more than a decade ago and now works for the organization.
“I thought I was going to end up in prison or die, but they proved me wrong,” he said.
Officials celebrated the 300th house in the state on Sept. 12 at the new Marysville location.
“Washington state has been a huge supporter of Oxford House from the get go,” said Mogel.
“We’re pretty excited. It was a long process to crack that 300 mark,” said Todd Flanagan, Snohomish County Outreach Coordinator.
He said the organization provides safe and stable housing for individuals who are trying to put their lives back together.
“They must continue their recovery process to live in the home. We’re just doing what we can to help to solve the opioid epidemic and homelessness problem,” said Flanagan.
Oxford Houses are typically funded through federal loans and the residents themselves, who are responsible for providing financial support.
“It helps us feel more like a part of society because we’re self-supporting,” said Amy Spicer, a current resident of the new Marysville house.
In addition, the houses and chapter of houses are self-run and organized by the residents.
“I feel like the difference between Oxford and other places is that it’s more like a family,” said Spicer, who said that feeling was helpful in the recovery process.
“I’m lucky enough that my family is still here, but a lot of people don't have that,” she said.
The residents in the house and other nearby houses support each other, she said.
“I know if we need help we can call other houses in the chapter,” she said.
Mogel also said there is a strong sense of community at the houses. In the house he stayed at they took frequent family photos.
“I look and there are pictures all over the house, and it’s people I’m seeing at 12-step meetings. I’m like ‘that guy came through here? He’s like a bazillion years clean,’” he said.
“You can still find that first photo on the wall from 14 years ago. You can literally watch my recovery progress,” he said.
The program also tries to integrate its Oxford Houses into middle-income neighborhoods.
“We try and put houses in upscale neighborhoods so that people aren’t going back to the same neighborhood that they came from,” said Flanagan.
“It gives them goals and aspirations and shows them what you can accomplish,” he said.
Spicer said she appreciated being able to live in the Marysville neighborhood she does.
“It’s really nice to see such a beautiful house be an Oxford House. I think that there can be a stigma around these houses and it’s nice to live in a neighborhood and community like this,” she said.
The Oxford House model is one of the only evidence-based methods for recovery, said Flanagan.
“We’re study-based. People who live in an Oxford House for 18 months have an 87 percent success rate of never using or drinking again,” he said.
The organization helps many experiencing homelessness begin to turn their life around, said Spicer.
“I think it saved my life. It’s helped me feel like I’m transitioning into everyday life,” she said.
For Mogel the experience was a big change as well.
“It had been a long time since I had slept in a bed I could call my own. I showed up and I didn’t even have a pillow. My roommate asked me if I had a pillow and he said ‘I got you’ and walked over the closet and pulled one out for me,” said Mogel.
“I pretty much thought it was inconceivable to stay clean in my county,” he said. In just a few months Mogel said he’ll be 15 years clean.
More information about the international organization is available at oxfordhouse.org.