We need your help.

Support Radical Hope in Maine.

El Rancho De La Vida is a Maine 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Your contribution is completely tax-deductible.  Supporting us is easy by making a gift using our fundraising partner Giving Fuel.  Please consider making a monthly contribution— every bit helps.

Maine nonprofit (click to verify)   •    IRS tax-exemption (click to verify)

If you prefer making a contribution by mail please make check payable to:
El Rancho De La Vida
Mail to: PO BOX 1
Hinckley, ME 04944

Why you should support us.

The opioid epidemic is particularly hard-hitting in Maine whose per capita income is just about $31,000 and whose percentage of those living in poverty stands at nearly 12%.[2] With a population of 1.344 million[8], and a federal poverty level of $12,760[9] that means over 170,000 people in Maine live on significantly less than $13,000 annually. In one 2017 sample, Maine was among the top-ten states with opioid-related deaths[1] and that trend is thought to only be further rising. The difficulty faced by those struggling with addiction is a much more hard-hitting, long-lasting, grueling, and insidious crisis.

More treatment options are needed. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration outlines four dimensions that support someone in recovery: health, home, purpose, and community. In so many cases, individuals in recovery may have their “health” dimension met by a limited gradient of care such as through medication assisted treatment, but are left with a significant void in terms of their need for home, purpose, and community. Many individuals in recovery are not cognizant of these needs let alone how to healthily go about meeting them.

This deficit consists of a constellation of necessities from basic human needs, activities of daily living, to nutritional learning, occupational and educational development, and basic case management needs.

El Rancho De La Vida is certified by the Maine Association of Recovery Residences.

The recovery gap.

While not a new model, the concept of recovery residences has grown to fill the deficit mentioned above. These are sometimes also called “sober houses” or “sober living houses”. These are not to be confused with “halfway” houses, which specifically tailor to inmate releases. El Rancho De La Vida views the recovery residence as foundational to a holistic approach to attaining and keeping sobriety. More than just a residence, it is this “recovery community” foundation that El Rancho De La Vida is first and currently focused on. Our first service, a recovery residence called “Andersson Ranch”, which is in fact the very first recovery residence located in Somerset County.

The outcomes of these recovery residences by now is fairly well established, resulting in these positive benefits:
  • Decreased substance use

  • Reduced probability of relapse

  • Lower rates of incarceration

  • Higher income

  • Increased employment rates[4][5][6]

According to the National Alliance of Recovery Residences: “A common predictor of positive outcomes across recovery housing types is the support individuals receive in recovery-oriented communities. This is consistent with the broader research suggesting that the availability of recovery capital is one factor that affects the success of treatment. Recovery capital includes the economic and social resources necessary to access help, initiate abstinence, and maintain a recovery lifestyle. Social support, such as that provided through twelve-step program participation and social network support for sobriety, is a key component of recovery housing and has been shown to directly affect recovery outcomes, including reducing the probability of relapse.” [7]

The stigma gap.

Less data and research is available to illustrate the stigma gap. We do however hold this as self-evident, that stigma poses a major barrier to a fully realized recovery. While society slowly responds to the implications of the war on drugs—that is, treating drug users as enemies rather than individuals in need of help—we are seeing a change in attitudes. Yet the stigma remains: communities say “not in my backyard”, “throw them in jail”, and the false narrative of “don’t give them a safe place to use”,  all the while cutting social services thus creating increased scarcity and competition to get the help so desperately needed.

It is true that diversion is a real concern. Yet it is also incontrovertible that, once all peripheral minutia is boiled away, that scarcity equals diversion. That is why NARR, the leading organization which certifies recovery residences, maintains a strict set of standards. El Rancho De La Vida is a NARR certified level 3 provider. As part of those standards, residents are required to store their medications in a secure location, and while taking their medication are supervised by staff. This virtually eliminates the risk of both voluntary and involuntary diversion.

NARR also has strict standards in terms of operating as a “good neighbor”. This standard requires residences to maintain a policy that explicitly outlines how neighbors can share concerns about the residence, and importantly, how staff must respond to those concerns.

A full spectrum of treatment.

With this solid foundation, this backbone in mind, El Rancho De La Vida also recognizes that navigating the sea of resources available to the recovering person can be overwhelming and incredibly arduous, especially locating these things:

  • Physicians or physician extensions who prescribe medication assisted treatment and who have capacity for new patients

  • Mental health treatment in order to effectively diagnose, medicate, and manage mental health issues

  • Drug and alcohol counselors

  • Case managers

  • Like-minded people also in recovery

  • Peer-support navigators

  • Government aid 

With this in mind, El Rancho De La Vida envisions providing a broad spectrum of treatment: from residential detox, to physicians prescribing medication assisted treatment (MAT), individual and group therapy, intensive outpatient program (IOP), case management, and every other service that an individual needs to realize their recovery journey. We aim to be able to take an individual experiencing severe withdrawal to a well-rounded, clean/sober, productive member of society—who has regained radical hope and their vast human potential. We mean a singular destination.

The human spirit.

Critically overlooked in our view is the human spirit. Supporting and inspiring the human spirit touches upon all of the dimensions of recovery, it does not necessarily fit neatly within one single dimension. Supporting and inspiring the human spirit means:

  • Discovering one’s potential

  • Giving oneself a sense of purpose

  • Regaining radical hope

  • Nurturing the human need for social contact

  • Being part of something bigger than oneself

  • A sense of pride and of belonging in ‘our house’

And we achieve these things through:

  • Finding work and accomplishing something meaningful, through work therapy

  • Experiencing nature and allowing awe and discovery and emotion, through animal and nature therapy

  • Music therapy

  • Art therapy

  • Self-actualization

A nonprofit endeavor.

Aiding those in recovery is inherently different from other forms of social work in that relapses are a matter of course. Recovery is a delicate process that can be easily derailed by profit-motive when the incentive should be strictly humanitarian. When financial interests are best served by individuals remaining in recovery (especially early stage) therein lies an unavoidable conflict of interest. We do not believe in profiting from human suffering.

Furthermore, there is a distinct lack of transparency that is well-deserved by the suffering. Too often, for-profit recovery enterprises lack any  financial oversight, organized management, and strong diverse leadership. These things, on the other hand, are standard practices for non-profit organizations. It is for these reasons that we therefore rely heavily on philanthropy and generous support to sustain our mission.

Business model statement.

Our mission is namely sustained by program fees. Our operations and organizational capacity is supported by philanthropy, and by both government and private grants passed on as financial assistance to those we serve. Our program fees are reduced directly by these funding sources to the greatest extent that our financial position permits. Support from these sources are always first directed at reducing client fee to the most in need.

Further reading

  • William White: Recovery Management and Recovery Oriented Systems of Care
  • Pew: Medication-Assisted Treatment Improves Outcomes for Patients With Opioid Use Disorder
  • NIH: How effective is drug addiction treatment?
  • NIH: The Science of Addiction
  • Global Commission on Drug Policy: Report of the Global Comission on Drug Policy
  • Cato: Four Decades and Counting: The Continued Failure of the War on Drugs
  • AEI: The US Drug War started 47 years ago tomorrow. Some commentary from Milton Friedman on that failed and shameful war
  • Kennebec Journal: Maine’s opioid epidemic is far from over
  • The Atlantic: The War on Drugs: How President Nixon Tied Addiction to Crime

  • References

    [1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019b, March 30). Maine Opioid Summary. Retrieved March 3, 2020, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/maine-opioid-summary
    [2] U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Maine. Retrieved March 1, 2020, from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/ME/HSG010218
    [3] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). SAMHSA’s working definition of recovery. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://store.samhsa.gov/product/SAMHSA-s-Working-Definition-of-Recovery/PEP12-RECDEF
    [4] Laudet, A. B., & Humphreys, K. (2013). Promoting recovery in an evolving policy context: What do we know and what do we need to know about recovery support services Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 45(1), 126–133. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2013.01.009
    [5] Mericle, A. A., Miles, J., & Way, F. (2015). Recovery residences and providing safe and supportive housing for individuals overcoming addiction. Journal of Drug Issues, 45(4), 368–384. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022042615602924
    [6] Polcin, D. L., Korcha, R. A., Bond, J., & Galloway, G. (2010). Sober living houses for alcohol and drug dependence: 18-month outcomes. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 38(4), 356–365. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2010.02.003
    [7] NARR Compendium C v6, published March 2019
    [8] U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Maine. Retrieved April 12, 2020, fromhttps://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ME
    [9] U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Retrieved April 12, 2020, from  https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/federal-poverty-level-fpl/