Prominent voice in recovery community takes on new role at Fairbanks

Kim Manlove, who joined Fairbanks’ staff as parent coach and peer recovery coach coordinator at the beginning of 2018, has become a prominent voice in the recovery community.

Unfortunately, it was the tragic loss of his youngest son and his own battle with addiction that propelled him into that line of work.

Manlove and his wife Marissa (who serves on the Hope Academy board of directors) discovered in 2001 that their youngest son David was abusing drugs and alcohol. They started researching treatment options and found Fairbanks.

“At the time we didn’t really know anything about addiction,” Manlove said. “We thought treatment centers like Fairbanks were all over the place. We had no idea this extraordinary facility was in our backyard.”

It’s ironic that David began treatment at Fairbanks on Jan. 2, 2001 – the same day Manlove would join the organization’s staff 17 years later – but Manlove doesn’t believe in coincidences. Though David completed his treatment, at 16 years old the urge to continue using was too much. That summer he died from a drug-related drowning while using an inhalant.

Manlove has a history of addiction in his family. Because of that, he spent the next two years blaming himself for David’s death. His drinking escalated and he began abusing the drugs he was prescribed for his grief and depression. Manlove sought treatment at Fairbanks after Marissa and his oldest son came home one day and found him in a blackout state.

His work in recovery actually began before he became sober. The Manloves were friends with former Fairbanks CEO Helene Cross. When she asked them for feedback on the organization, Manlove advocated for more recovery management for parents, which tended to end after their children were discharged from treatment. Cross challenged the Manloves to establish something like that at Fairbanks. They started a parent support group about six months after David died that still meets every Thursday night at Fairbanks.

Manlove’s professional background was in academia. He worked almost 29 years at IUPUI, the last 15 of those as an academic dean in central administration. But after a couple years in recovery, Manlove went back to Cross with another request.

“Recovery had changed my whole worldview,” he said. “I was interested in some professional experience in that field.”

Manlove spent the next several years as a contractor for Fairbanks running a series of block grant programs from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. Those grants included programs for prevention, adolescent addiction treatment and recovery.

During this time Manlove also got involved with an organization called Unite to Face Addiction and served on the board of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition. He applied when the IAIC’s executive director position opened and got the job.

The Manloves were trained as parent recovery coaches by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Manlove also utilized peer recovery coach training offered through a federal grant.

“Where I am now is, to a certain extent, what I’ve been doing the last several years,” he said of his new role at Fairbanks. “I get to be in recovery and talk about it as my day job and get paid for it. That’s pretty amazing.”

Manlove’s job at Fairbanks is to coordinate the recovery coaches who work in various departments and figure out how to help them do their jobs even better. He also hopes to utilize his experience as a parent coach in Fairbanks’ Access Center. It’s often a difficult time there for families while their loved ones undergo tests and interviews to determine the level of treatment needed.

“The family usually sits there by itself. To have a parent who’s been through the process, I can help explain what’s going to happen and help demystify it,” said Manlove, who added at such times there are also heightened emotions including guilt, betrayal and anger.

“It’s important just to have someone in there who can say, ‘I understand what you’re going through, let’s talk about it.’”

Historically, recovery from drug and alcohol abuse has traditionally meant doing so in anonymity because of stigma. The Manloves have chosen to be outspoken about their son’s tragic death, and Kim’s own struggle with addiction, precisely to help break that stigma.

“If you stopped someone on the street and asked them what the face of addiction looks like, they’re going to think of a homeless person clutching a brown paper bag,” Manlove said. “If you ask them what the face of recovery looks like, they don’t know. For those of us in recovery, that’s our fault.”

He’s particularly eager to help cultivate Fairbanks’ continuum of care, which sustains long after a patient completes inpatient treatment.

“We’re finally reaching the point where we’re making recovery a full partner,” Manlove said. “That’s what’s great about having recovery and parent coaches – and why I’m so excited about helping to bring recovery coaching to its fruition.”