A little more than six months ago, a new take on substance abuse recovery programming opened in Ardmore and it has already outgrown itself. BEAR, Inc. is in the process of moving to a new location on Republic Street, just a few doors over from the current location behind Save-A-Lot.
Carter County residents, the court system and service providers have become well-versed in the impact substance abuse has on individuals and their families.
Ronnie Robinson, director of the BEAR, Inc. program, said changes in state statutes have excused some from other programs — like Drug Court —  that could help in overcoming addictions and related legal issues.
For Robinson and those he serves through his agency, Friday marked a major step — BEAR’s new facility has the ability to house ten to 12 men at an “elite sober living facility.”
The facility’s new residents began moving in the same day Robinson signed the official lease for the building.
In March, Robinson said he wanted to work with his clients as peers.
“My philosophy is that I don’t care how you got to where you’re at,” Robinson said. “I don’t want to open old wounds and talk about someone’s past. I want to work on the here and now.”
Robinson said he had an extensive criminal history that started at a very young age. Now, he says he uses his ability to relate to clients to help them better themselves.
During a tour of the new facility, formerly the Destiny House, a recovery home for women, Robinson proudly explained where each man would live.
“I was involved in the planning for this building when I was the director for Broadway House here in Ardmore,” Robinson said.
Each resident will have a private or semi-private living area with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities.
“The mattresses were just built by the Oklahoma Corrections facility before Destiny House moved to their new location,” Robinson said.
While the expansion to a residential program is a major step for the agency, Robinson said he plans to continue the BEAR program.
“We will teach the program at the new location,” Robinson said. “I plan to continue to work diligently with the courts.”
The program was previously approved as an alternative for those ineligible for Drug Court services. People that have misdemeanor drug and alcohol offenses are no longer able to utilize some rehabilitation programs due to their requirements.
Robinson said the courts have expressed a desire to help people live a healthier, happier lifestyle. He plans to work with the courts and other community agencies to help area residents become productive members of society.
Since its inception, the BEAR program has had more than 60 participants, with 22 graduating and 19 presently attending weekly classes. “Some participants’ spouses started attending with them because they liked the information their other half was bringing home,” Robinson said.
Over the summer the group held a yard sale to help raise funds for the program. Robinson said they will hold another sale Saturday and Sunday Oct. 27-28. Items for donation can be dropped off at the old location behind Save-A-Lot. Robinson said he would also pick up items as needed. Some of the items held over from the previous sale include furniture, a decades-old school desk and toy box and antique vanity. The group also has lanterns and other miscellaneous items for sale.
Robinson said the BEAR, Inc., program will remain open to anyone who wishes to self-admit in addition to the referrals by the courts and other agencies. Anyone that would like more information about the BEAR program, the sober living facility or to refer clients should contact Robinson at (580) 319-4405 or via email at behavioral.bear@gmail.com. There is a sliding scale for weekly program participation fees.

If you go
Where: BEAR Inc, behind Save-A-Lot
When: All day Friday and Saturday, Oct 27-28
What: Fundraiser for sober living facility, education
Donations accepted, contact Ronnie