In the News: Haymarket holds Trauma Retreat for Law Enforcement

First responders such as firefighters, police officers, and EMS providers are understandably at high-risk for mental and emotional trauma due to their line of work. Unfortunately, resources for treating this trauma often go unused by those in need due to a lack of awareness and stigma surrounding trauma. In response, Haymarket held a retreat for law enforcement officers who have experienced trauma.  

Dr. Dan Lustig, President and CEO of Haymarket Center, wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Sun Times to explain the problem and to promote Haymarket’s new program for first responders: Trauma, stress felt by first responders is huge mental health risk.


Haymarket’s Opioid Recovery Project Experiences Early Success


Last summer, Haymarket was awarded a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to fund its efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in the Chicagoland area. The crisis is ongoing, and its severity hasn’t relented, but with the help of SAMHSA, Haymarket has responded in full force with its Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Center (CORC) project.

CORC extends lifesaving resources and treatments across Cook and DuPage counties by working with medical facilities and drug courts to provide treatment and individualized recovery approaches. Crucially, CORC also includes outreach services to “hotspots” of homelessness in the region that it serves, serving a population that has suffered extensively from the crisis with little to no support.

Results from the project are already showing promise. While demand for the program has been higher than anticipated, data has shown that 70% of participants in the project have abstained from substance use six months after intake. Additionally, the financial stability and employment of participants after six months have risen significantly, multiplying four and five-fold, respectively. The crisis remains an ongoing threat to vulnerable populations, but Haymarket’s services are having an impact for those in need of support.

Haymarket Center Organizes Back to School Field Day for students


On Friday, August 5, Haymarket hosted its first back-to-school Field Day event. The event, organized by Haymarket’s Youth Prevention Team and the Chicago Park District, was held at Robert Taylor Park in the South Side’s Fuller Park Neighborhood. The Youth Prevention team organized the children’s event in celebration and preparation for the coming school year. This year, activities included tug of war, water balloon tossing, and three-legged races, among others. In addition, the event featured a school supply give-away to prepare students for their return to school.

“We had roughly 70 kids that were eager to see what activities we had to offer.,” explained Spencer Jones, a Haymarket staff member who organized the event.“ Hosting events like this helps Haymarket and its Prevention Specialist see the necessity in being consistent and intentional. Were slated to facilitate programming for 500 students this upcoming school year and this event served as a good starting point.”

“The field day was a very heartwarming experience, the kids were very enthralled by all of our activities,” reflected Olivia Meisenbach, Jones’ colleague on the Youth Prevention Team. It definitely was a nice surprise for the kids to have a change in activity while also enjoying the summer day.”


Success Story: Casey

Casey’s first experience with drugs came at the age of five, with the misuse of over-the-counter medicine. Over time, Casey began excessively drinking, smoking marijuana, and later on, cocaine and meth. Casey’s problems with substance use eventually led him to losing his home and falling into profound despair. “When I was at my lowest point, I asked my dealer to overdose me. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

Thanks to the help of a friend, Casey came to Haymarket Center for recovery. There he met June Davis, his recovery coach.

“When I met Ms. Davis for the first time, she just let me sit in her office and cry. I didn’t have a chance to release like that before.”

Casey’s recovery journey did not follow a straight and steady path. There were struggles, relapses, and reentries into Haymarket. During his second time in recovery, he decided to change his approach. When he admittedly rushed through his recovery the first time, Casey decided that instead he would take his time, listen more closely to his peers and counselors, and approach his time at Haymarket with a mindset for growth.

“When I allowed myself to heal, I was able to see what an amazing place Haymarket is,” Casey explained. “Haymarket was the place that opened the door and said, “you are worthy,” and I’m so thankful for that.”

Today, Casey lives a happy, healthy life on the north side of Chicago and has enjoyed four years of employment at Lou Malnati’s. He recommends ordering the deep-dish Lou’s pizza with sausage when you visit.

Gala raises funds for treatment

After two years of COVID postponements, Haymarket Center’s first annual gala was an astounding success. The event brought together more than 450 business leaders, community supporters, legislative allies, and philanthropists for important conversations on substance use treatment and to raise critical funds to support access.

Actor Rob Lowe delivered the keynote address. In his address, he praised the work that Haymarket does and talked about his own struggles with substance use.

“When I started my journey, my biggest fear was a wouldn’t have any fun anymore because I was 26 when I gave up all that stuff,” he explained in an interview with CBS Chicago anchor Irika Sargent, who served as the gala’s master of ceremonies. “I’ve had more fun, I’ve had more good times, I’ve had more laughs than I ever had when I was out ‘having fun.’ So, for me it’s just to empower people to make that first step and to begin that road to the lives they were meant to have.”

The gala also featured an awards ceremony for notable supporters of Haymarket. Dr. Dan Sullivan of Edward-Elmhurst Health, Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris, the staff of Rush University, and entrepreneurs Dick and Sharon Portillo were each honored for their support for the Center and for their advocacy efforts.

Thank you to everyone who supported the 2022 Haymarket Gala. Special thanks to Master of Ceremonies Irika Sargent, Event Chair Jerry Reinsdorf, Co-Chairs Stephen Davis and Harmony Harrington, the Host Committee, and Event Planning Committee. 

View photos from the event here.

Patients Find Renewed Purpose Through Therapeutic Communities

When patients come to Haymarket for treatment, our objective is to treat the whole person in their journey from substance use disorder – including their physical and behavioral health. But we go even further in order to give our patients a renewed outlook and sense of purpose. To this end, Haymarket Center has been implementing practices of Therapeutic Community into residential treatment.

Therapeutic community (TC) is a residential, group-based approach to treating substance use disorders. In a therapeutic community, patients develop a series of routines that are designed to foster long-term coping mechanisms for mental illness and substance use disorders. Haymarket, after a series of trainings and research into ways to improve the experiences of patients in our care, adopted these practices in 2021. These routines are executed in the context of group-living and include morning and evening house meetings, job assignments, group sessions, scheduled personal time, recreation, and individual counseling. By practicing these routines in a group environment, patients are able to develop both a stronger sense of interpersonal behavior and a renewed sense of identity outside of their respective disorder.

Tone Sirbas, Assistant Clinical Director, explained how this approach is put into practice at Haymarket.
“When a new client arrives on the unit, they are greeted by an orientation team member and assigned a big sister or brother,” she explained. “During the first week they are oriented to the unit and will assist with chores assigned to their big sister/brother. During their 2nd week they are assigned to a team on which they will work throughout their stay. As they progress successfully through treatment, they will have the opportunity to be voted into a coordinator position. Eventually, if the opportunity arises and they have shown leadership capabilities, they may be voted into the peer leader position. This process allows the clients to take ownership of their unit and their behavior while teaching job and leadership skills.”

Perhaps the key benefit to therapeutic communities is the ability for patients to set their own goals regarding their recovery journey and personal development. Through group collaboration and counseling with trusted and trained counselors, patients are able to manage their emotions, build back self-esteem that may have been damaged prior to getting help, and develop positive coping mechanisms to maintain their path on their recovery journey.

Therapeutic communities are just one of many ways that Haymarket Center provides holistic and comprehensive treatment for those with substance use disorders.

Success beyond treatment: Leonard G.

For almost fifty years, Haymarket Center has been the starting point for countless people in their recovery from substance use disorders. One of those people is Leonard G., who after coming to Haymarket is happily living a life that he, not drugs or alcohol, is in firm control of. This is his story.

“My name is Leonard Green, and I was a past resident at Haymarket drug and rehabilitation program. The year was 2017-2018 in which Haymarket and their experienced staff helped feed and house me while getting me mental health therapy and gainful employment. While my counselor enrolled me into the family enrichment program, a program that educated me on how to improve my chances of being successful in life. The program was very educational. It helped me brush up on my computer skills, taught me about me about how to receive emails, different programs installed on our computers, how to properly dress, and how to communicate during job interviews. Upon successful completion of the family enrichment center program, I was placed into the CTA Second Chance program. I have been employed since September 2019 at CTA infrastructure. Kimberely Watts, Family Enrichment Center Manager, was very instrumental in helping and training me and I truly want to thank her. I have held three different positions at the CTA, and I’m currently employed as a flag worker, and I’m looking towards becoming an instructor or manager.”

Haymarket Opens New Medical Center

Haymarket Center is proud to have opened a new medical center in our West Loop facility! The medical suite allows Haymarket to better provide onsite primary care for our patients. Medical care is provided by a full medical team, including physicians, physicians’ assistants, and nurses, and will treat patients regardless of ability to pay. Our integrated approach to treating physical health, behavioral health, and substance use disorder simultaneously, while also providing recovery support services, helps to ensure the long-term success of our patients.

View more photos of the space below:

Haymarket Heroes: Meet Our Outreach Team

Haymarket Center’s outreach team, works tirelessly to bring much-needed support to people who live with untreated substance use disorders at O’Hare airport, as well as those who are unsheltered.

The fundamental goal of our outreach team is to move people from vulnerable conditions to more stable and secure ones as part of their recovery journey. To this end, the outreach staff has a variety of different responsibilities, from obtaining medical and psychological treatment for those in need to securing housing for those trying to reestablish themselves after distress caused by substance use. This year alone, the outreach team has referred more than 50 people to hospitals for treatment and has moved 85 people from homelessness into stable housing.

When asked about her team’s work, Outreach Manager Pearlene Hudson credited high morale and dedication as driving forces behind their success.

“It has been a challenging year due to Covid restrictions on placement but the dedication from the team and our partners to move clients to a more stable housing environments is phenomenal,” she explained.
“It does bring home the mission statement “Hope Starts Here”.”

We at Haymarket thank the staff of our outreach team for their work in starting people on their journeys towards recovery.

Treating the Whole Person: Tonika’s Story

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and I wanted help.”

Tonika had spent years in a spiral of misfortune. Eventually, her drug use led to an emergency room visit. It was while she was in the hospital that she realized she needed help. She was referred Haymarket Center where staff helped Tonika overcome her substance use disorder, while also addressing her issues of trust and self-worth, which worsened her condition.

At Haymarket Center, we treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. We invite you to support our mission by making a donation today.


Haymarket’s approach to treatment is holistic, centered on empathy and repairing every last part of the individual that was harmed by substance use. That includes counseling and group therapy sessions to improve the mental health of our patients, medications and access to primary care to ensure good physical health, and creating a culture of care that lifts and empowers the spirits of those who come to us. All of these factors played a role in supporting Tonika as she began her journey to recovery.

“When I first came to Haymarket, I was so, so nervous, and I had a very hard time trusting people,” Tonika explained. “The staff and my colleagues at Haymarket Center played a huge role in helping me gain some of that self-confidence back.”

Tonika cites her group therapy sessions as a key part of her recovery. In these sessions, Tonika would learn how to identify her triggers and develop coping mechanisms in order to reach the place where she wanted to be.

“Being a part of group therapy sessions helped me understand that the problems I had were shared by others,” Tonika explained. “The support I received in those sessions from my peers and from Haymarket staff made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this struggle.”

When asked about how she feels today, Tonika says the difference is night and day.

“I feel wonderful today,” Tonika said, joyously. “My self-esteem is back, I feel more open and clearer in my heart and my thoughts, and I know that I have purpose. I wouldn’t feel that way were it not for God, my family, and everyone at Haymarket.”

Tonika has come a long way since she was referred to Haymarket. With the support of donors such as yourself, we were able to help her on her path to recovery.

Would you consider making a gift today to support patients like Tonika?


Over the past year, Haymarket has been able to provide treatment, food, clothing and shelter to the 12,000 patients who have come to us in their time of need. We are proud of the things that we have accomplished during this difficult time, but additional support will help maintain excellent care for our patients and prepare for what the future might bring. With your help, we can do just that.

Thank you for considering our invitation to join our community.

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