A new addiction recovery program has opened quietly in one of the smaller north shore communities and only recently has received some notice from the local citizens. Cross Keys Retreat is a residential program in Wenham, Massachusetts that offers a 12 step recovery program for up to 15 men in what was once a large single family residence.
Cross Keys is a subsidiary of Number 16 in Wakefield which is a similar program consisting of two residences combined to provide beds for up to 33 men. Number 16 offers an array of family and alumni meetings in addition to the daily schedule of 12 step oriented programming.
Both programs do not appear to accept health insurance as payment options. This allows them to operate out of the maze of regulations that usually govern health care facilities. The Cross Keys program in Wenham was reviewed by the town recently as neighbors were questioning how it was allowed to open last April without any notice. Legal counsel representing Cross Keys cited the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act as support for what is considered an “educational” and not a health care treatment program.
The Number 16 and Cross Keys programs raise the issue of what is a treatment program and what is a sober house? Sober Houses have been in the news in the local area for the past few years. What finally became apparent was that they are simply rooming houses for people in recovery who agree to live together and attempt to support each others’ sobriety. There are no treatment professionals or structured programming involved with one of these houses other than possibly a consultant or a resident agreed upon 12 step meeting. A sober house in Salem, Massachusetts Hilltop Manor, was the scene of 29 police calls in a year, most for medical issues. Two recent deaths there were said to be related to drug overdoses.
As Number 16 and Cross Keys are privately owned and operated and not subject to many of the rules and regulations governing treatment programs, it is difficult to discover the people behind these projects. David Ray and Ari Nikolaou have been described as “Project Directors” in public documents. They describe their programs as “6-8 month housing options for recovering alcohol and drug addicts. The programs are a combination of traditional Alcoholics Anonymous steps and spiritual guidance.”
The programs also operate at a greatly reduced cost, when compared to other long-term residential programs. Number 16 and Cross Keys are priced at around $8,000 per month, which are a bargain when compared to the $30,000 a month charged by other programs.
Number 16 and Cross Keys are apparently creating a new niche in the array of treatment programs for people with addictions. Their program model might be described as a “structured sober house” and fill a major gap in the current service system.