By Tyler Schneider
As of May 8, Midwest Recovery Centers CEO Jeff Howard was officially two decades sober. He celebrated two weeks ago with a trip to Peru, where he and others in long term recovery hiked Machu Picchu.
Now back at the facility he started in 2015, Howard is back doing what he loves: helping others sustain their recovery period, to find new ways to live and make amends with their addictions while reconciling themselves with a brighter future.
For the second year in a row, the efforts of Howard and his growing roster of employees at Midwest Recovery Centers have been recognized by the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce as one of ten small businesses nominated for the Mr. K Award, which will be presented to the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year on July 15 at Marriott Muehlebach Tower’s Imperial Colonial Ballroom.
“If we go all the way back to the Kauffman Foundation, and we take a look at what he represented, to have them even nominate a person like me — who’s got 20 years of ongoing recovery — for an award as prestigious as that is incredibly heartfelt for me,” Howard said.
“It’s one of those things that makes me go, ‘okay, what I’ve been doing with my life for the last 20 years in the treatment industry and in the recovery field is not being ignored’. It’s being acknowledged for the fact that addicts can stop using, and that users are using find a new way to live and have these new hopes for their future.”
Between June 2021 and May 2022, Midwest Recovery Centers has increased in size “one hundred percent,” according to Howard. They have ballooned from 20 employees to 42 in that time period, stretching the monthly payroll from $80,000 at the start to $180,000 today.
“I’m a founding member of this agency, which we started from the ground up in 2015. It’s now been operating for six years, and we are nationally accredited with the Joint Commission and highly thought of by the Department of Mental Health for the state of Missouri,” Howard said.
Midwest Recovery Centers deals “with the whole spectrum of the disease of addiction,” Howard noted.
“We are unique in the fact that we don’t just do outpatient services. We do offer outpatient services, but we also do inpatient, or residential, and detox,” Howard said.
Midwest Recovery Centers puts a particular emphasis on the first after one year of successful recovery, after which, patients are able to access support services through both the organization and its recovery network.
As far as the Mr. K Award goes, win or lose, Howard and his dedicated staff are planning on announcing a new scholarship program in June for those who do not have private insurance — a group that has only found increased difficulty in accessing health care throughout the pandemic era.
“I’ve always believed that it’s not about ‘how much more I can get?’ It’s about ‘how many more people can we help?’ It’s important that we try and get a leg up, which is why I’m really excited about our scholarship program,” Howard said.
The largest culprit of prescription drug addiction these days are overwhelmingly synthetic opioids, with Fentanyl being the primary offender. With a staff that includes many dedicated former addicts in long term recovery, Midwest Recovery Centers aims to use their initial success to help curb the threat.
“We have people that come in that have lost their families and their children. In that one year with us, we get to watch many of them reunite with their families and be able to take an active role in their children’s lives again,” Howard said.
Our goal is to actively develop their sense of self esteem, worth, and value, and for them to eventually recognize that it was there all along. It belonged to them and still does, and they can restore it back to their lives.”