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No Limit to CAAP

Substance abuse program expands.



When the Cocaine and Alcohol Awareness Program (CAAP) officially opened its new residential treatment center last Friday, it marked another milestone for the substance abuse program. The new 83-bed center is the largest in a series of facilities that the nonprofit has built over the last 16 years.

What began in 1989 as a 500-square-foot clinic -- financially supported by its founders -- eventually grew to a number of centers around the city.

"When we started, I was working night shifts at the sheriff's office just to pay the bills," says Albert Richardson, co-founder and executive director. In 1991, the program opened its first residential facility, a 19-bed clinic in Whitehaven. Later, the group opened a residential facility for nonviolent female offenders and a nonresidential treatment center for homeless veterans.

"What we've learned after 16 years is that substance abuse has no boundaries. It affects all parts of our community," says Richardson. CAAP now has an annual budget of over $3 million and cares for 220 residential clients. After acquiring the Knight Arnold property for $1.4 million, renovations cost $870,000.

The facility is divided into separate areas for men and women. Rows of bedrooms run along long, white corridors that are monitored by motion sensitive cameras. The bedrooms are sparsely furnished with a cot and a dresser.

"This work continues even after their release," says Richardson. CAAP provides job training and placement and works with banks such as Tri-State and First Tennessee to help patients organize their finances.

"Our patient success rate has actually been growing steadily," says Richardson. Patient success rate refers to those who have graduated from the program and remained clean. According to a University of Memphis study, the center has a 91 percent success rate.

"My addiction was a grim reality. It just took me down a deadend street," says Maurice Kneeland, a resident in the program for the last three months. At age 47, he developed a cocaine habit, lost his job as a clothing salesman, and his family refused to see him. "When even your own family doesn't want to be around you, you become hopeless," he says.

Kneeland says the program has had a great effect on him. "When I came to CAAP they promised to love me until I was ready to love myself." When he finishes CAAP, he wants to work in social services, hoping to give back to others what this program gave to him.

good ending. I like the synchronicity.

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