Josh Dressel likes to drive fast, and when the weather is nice, with the top down.
“I’ve accumulated things,” he said. “I have a convertible, I have a motorcycle, I have a Jeep, but it can all go away with one bad decision.”
Part of Dressel’s morning routine is driving his convertible to Midwest Detox Center in Maumee, the detox center that he co-founded with Matt Bell and Michael Silberman, COO of Amatus Recovery Centers, in 2017. Today Dressel and Bell are respectively the COO and CEO of the facility, and its affiliated recovery centers throughout Lucas and Wood Counties.
When Dressel arrives, he walks toward the front door eagerly and is met with warm welcomes from the nursing and clinical staff. Despite doing this every day, he exudes bewilderment. Not from being overwhelmed by that day’s duties, but from barely believing he gets do what he does for a living.
Today, Dressel has been in recovery for four continuous years, and in that relatively short period of time has helped hundreds of addicts and alcoholics overcome their substance use disorders.
A dire need for treatment
Prior to getting sober, he struggled with heroin addiction for almost a decade. He was introduced to opiates while he was a bartender and patron offered him a prescription painkiller. From there, he developed a physical dependence and moved on to heroin, and before long he was living in his car. Dressel’s story is not uncommon in Toledo.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control, in 2017, only Pennsylvania had more drug overdose deaths than Ohio. That same year, Ohio experienced a death rate of 48 for every 100,000 people. Only West Virginia had a higher per capita drug overdose death rate.
“In Toledo, we could open a 100-bed Medicaid detox facility tomorrow and it would be full,” Dressel said.
Dressel, however, doesn’t speak about that prospect with the excitement that comes with a promising business endeavor. Instead, he is melancholy. About the unmet demand for substance use treatment and at the idea that hundreds of people in Lucas County may not have access to their services.
Even with the dire need for effective drug treatment facilities throughout Ohio, Dressel and Bell’s success still seems unlikely. The two started their nonprofit, Team Recovery, and laying the groundwork for their treatment centers, only months after getting sober.
Their modest clean time was not known to Silberman at the time. He discovered just how new into recovery they were when Dressel posted on his personal Facebook page that he was celebrating his first year of continuous sobriety.
“I thought, ‘What have I just done?’” Silberman said with a laugh. “But we were already into the process, and those guys proved themselves. They were reliable and more than passionate about opening this center.”
A meeting of the minds
Bell and Dressel met when they were themselves in detox in October 2015. Dressel entered the facility six days before Bell and they bonded over Dressel’s backpack filled with candy.
“Matt was thinking, ‘This guy’s got candy. I’m gonna go over there and talk to him,’” Dressel said. Since, the two have grown to be best friends. Dressel said they, “fight like brothers.”
“It was Josh who inspired me to stay clean when I was in detox. He had six days clean, I had one, and he literally changed the world just by staying clean,” said Bell.
The idea behind Team Recovery started as a joke, Dressel said, but quickly turned into a way for those addicted to heroin to hold each other accountable for getting into recovery. A few of the clients from their detox facility would pile their hands together, release them and shout “Team Recovery.” Before long they were hosting rallies in Ohio neighborhoods impacted by the opioid crisis.
“We started making as much noise as we possibly could,” Dressel said. “Our biggest goal was to teach people in the community that addicts are not bad people. They are sick people who need help. There was such a major stigma. We wanted to show that we could get sober and that we could make a difference.”
And the rest is history
During a rally, representatives from Amatus Health approached Dressel and Bell and formed a partnership, eventually offering them support in developing a treatment facility in Lucas County.
“We told them we need places to send people,” Dressel said. “At the time it was really hard to get a bed in Lucas County.”
Dressel and Bell’s beds in Lucas County were in a recovery house managed by Sherri Walker, the future executive director of operations for Midwest Recovery Center. Despite their limited sobriety time, Walker allowed them to take a week-long leave to fly to Florida to discuss the business opportunity.
“I just trusted my gut,” Walker said. “I took a gamble and hoped for the best, and they went and came back. And the first office they had for Team Recovery was at our recovery house.”
For Bell, partnering with Dressel has been a life changing, and life affirming experience.
“We’ve been able to do some amazing things together in the last four years,” he said, “and the best is yet to come. I hope Josh has six more clean days than me forever.”
Since Midwest Recovery Center opened in 2017, Dressel has worn several hats. First, on the road as outreach person, then as the director of client services, and finally, Chief Operating Officer. When talking about his job, Dressel won’t talk about himself for long. He’ll talk about the center’s talented therapists, devoted behavioral health techs, and superlative nurses, but his own position?
“I don’t feel like this is a job,” he said.
Midwest Recovery Center is subsidiary of Amatus Recovery Centers, a division of Amatus Health, which offers treatment for drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders in facilities across the country. From addiction treatment, to long-term after-care, Midwest Recovery Center offers individualized care for you or your loved one. No one’s story is the same, and neither should everyone’s recovery. To find out which level of care is right for you, call an admission specialist at 833-440-8648.