Joe Hindman–the Director of Outreach for Fresh Start Recovery Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland–has been sober more than 11 years. Considering he is only 31 years old, Joe’s story is not very different from that of many adolescents, teens and young adults in this country. A growing number of people in that age group habitually use drugs and alcohol. Hindman grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He estimates he was 12 or 13 when he started drinking and doing drugs regularly. By his late teens, the consequences began adding up. After a couple of DUI arrests and expulsion from school, Hindman’s family placed him in a treatment program in Maryland.
When he completed it, he moved to Delray Beach, Florida to start his journey of recovery. Hindman spent the next twelve years in the Sunshine State; that’s where he began his career in substance use treatment, working in both operations and outreach. Today, he has returned North, though not as far as Philadelphia, settling in Maryland outside of Washington, D.C. As the Director of Outreach for Fresh Start Recovery Center, Hindman says he sees his responsibility as raising awareness and “finding connections that will help make what we do here available to those in need.” “It takes passion to help people,” he said. “I feel as though I am uniquely qualified to relate to those suffering from addiction. It can be a difficult to understand the plight of a person seeking recovery. It is a huge advantage to be able to relate having the experience of recovery myself.” Hindman believes that the care Fresh Start Recovery Center provides for clients is unique for many reasons. Not the least of which is that many of his colleagues, like himself, have been where the clients are. “We look at the client experience from a recovery standpoint. Most of the Fresh Start employees are in recovery. It’s not a sterile hospital-like environment,” he said. “The relationships we form enable clients to be comfortable with the idea of recovery. Fresh Start alumni stay engaged, because the passion we all have for recovery shows them it is possible.
We have been able to cultivate a safe and effective space for those seeking long term recovery.” He and his outreach team work diligently to find treatment for anyone who needs it, even if Fresh Start is not the best fit. For Hindman, seeing that transition point from active addiction into recovery is the highlight of his work. “To see people afflicted with addiction surmount their issues and regain relationships with loved ones that were strained because of actions” he says,” that’s the best part. “Seeing families get their loved ones back, that’s is what keeps me going.”