In 1971, the country was in turmoil. The turbulent 1960s resulted in drug use that was considered almost mainstream. We were in the middle of an unpopular war and worse, many of the young men who fought that war came back from Vietnam with heroin habits. Heroin was no longer relegated to the inner-city ghettos, and because the new crop of addicts were young men who fought for our freedom—many of whom didn’t fit the old addict stereotype—America began to pay attention to the addiction problem. At that time, substance abuse treatment was largely limited to 12-Step programs, Methadone treatment, and commitments to what amounted to minimum security prisons with group therapy.
Veterans in Minnesota were sent to the V.A. Medical Center for traditional treatment. Recognizing that those returning from overseas needed more, three young people opened up a sober house with counseling sessions to provide support. In September of that year, the sober house evolved into a full-fledged treatment program, Eden House, which served 24 men. Employing a combination of traditional therapy, behavior modification, Rational Emotive Therapy, psychodrama, and other innovated treatments, the program was seen as a viable alternative.
As time went by, many returning veterans who were unable to secure heroin with the ease they did overseas, turned to criminal activity to support their habits. They began to look more and more like the criminal addict stereotype. In 1972, Eden House received the first Minnesota inmate paroled directly to treatment and quickly became the program for “throw away people,” those with criminal behavior and addiction.
Building on the early success, Eden House received a rapid expansion grant in 1974 and quickly grew from a 24-bed program serving men to a 71-bed residential program serving men and women, a 40-person outpatient program, and a 20-person program for youth, serving primarily Native American kids. Rapid expansion can be difficult and the growing pains of moving too fast proved to be a valuable lesson. Through conflict comes innovation and ultimately Eden House downsized to residential programs serving 35 men and 15 women, 20 outpatient men and 20 outpatient women.
In the late 1980s, recognizing the significant barrier women faced when getting help was where to place their children, Eden House began developing transitional housing for people in outpatient treatment who were also homeless. In 1992, a 16-unit apartment building was rehabilitated and opened as the first treatment housing where women could keep their children with them. Three years later, a communal living program for homeless men who were assessed as appropriate for outpatient treatment was developed as well.
In the mid-1990s, recognizing that a housing shortage fell disproportionately on those with criminal and addiction histories, Eden again called on creativity and innovation to develop a sober housing community with permanent supportive housing for 124 tenants. Alliance Apartments opened in 1997 and became the model for intentional communities.
While Eden was addressing the elements of addiction and recovery in Minneapolis, Reentry Services, Inc. was doing the same in St. Paul for those under correctional supervision. In 1973, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Community Corrections Act, which came to be a model for treating offenders in the community. However community resources proved to be inadequate for the transition. Beginning in 1976, Reentry Service began developing half-way houses for adult men and women leaving prison or on probation. They also met correctional needs by opening a forensic testing laboratory for drug testing and developed an electronic monitoring program. They began supervising offenders sentenced to community service in Ramsey County.
In 1998, recognizing that both programs assisted a similar population but at different points on the continuum of recovery, Reentry Services and Eden began merger discussions to provide a seamless delivery system geared toward the highest risk, highest need clients. On January 1, 2000, RS EDEN was born.
Today RS EDEN operates correctional half-way houses for men and women; residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs for both men and women; a drug testing lab; a community supervision program; over 500 units of permanent, sober, supportive and affordable housing; 32 units of transitional housing; employment readiness training, and a coffee shop.
Using innovation and tenacity, RS EDEN continues to provide creative solutions to public safety and client transition, remaining true to the philosophy of rebuilding communities, one person at a time.
RS EDEN is an equal opportunity employer whose mission is to create thriving, just communities where healing occurs and new beginnings are possible.