How Dawn Farm in Michigan helps people battle addiction

‘The selfish nature of the disease of addiction, it convinces you that it’s your problem and you can fix it’

How Dawn Farm in Michigan helps people beat addiction
How Dawn Farm in Michigan helps people beat addiction

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Your Neighborhood this week takes us to a farm in Ypsilanti.

What’s happening there every single day isn’t all about farming, it’s about saving lives from a potentially deadly disease.

“On top of booze there were other things like narcotic pain pills, cocaine of course, I dabbled with heroin and all of these things were going to destroy not only my life but my body,” said Davey LaFave.

LaFave calls himself a cross-addicted alcoholic. At age 21 he started abusing alcohol which eventually led to other substances fueling his addiction.

“Even though I was drinking a fifth of vodka at six in the morning every day from 2014-2017, I didn’t see a problem,” he said.

The disease would convince his mind that he didn’t have an issue. Despite friends and family trying to help, he refused to admit it.

“The selfish nature of the disease of addiction, it convinces you that it’s your problem and you can fix it,” he said.

But he couldn’t fix it. Not on his own at least. After repeated trips to the hospital, health complications and warnings from doctors about impending death only to do it all again the same day it happened.

“That was the end of the road for me,” said LaFave.

Next: An intervention from his family and friends.

“It was intense. People got on airplanes. People drove long distances to come here and it was just like that tv show where they read you the letter they’ve written and it was emotional and frustrating and scary,” he described. “This can’t go on. If this is how they feel and they’re willing to help me? I may as well say yes.”

LaFave said yes to Dawn Farm in Ypsilanti.

“Dawn Farm is a non profit based in Washtenaw County that provides treatment and recovery support services for people with substance abuse disorders and addiction,” said Anna Byberg, Dawn Farm clinical director.

It’s rehab, helping addicts recover since 1973. It’s a place where LaFave would stay for 140 days, eventually becoming a member of the staff. He’s been clean and sober now for years now.

“I’ve created a life myself where I am in the very center of it where I have people around me holding me accountable constantly,” said LaFave.

“He works here now,” said Byberg. “He is one of those examples. He has gone through services. He is a house manager now. He works at Spera, which is our recovery center. He works as recovery support specialist helping people who are newer in recovery.”

About 36 people stay at Dawn Farm at a time with treatment costing $170 a day for about three to four months. Scholarship opportunities are available. For LaFave, the help he got here is priceless.

“I’m not alone in this,” he added. “Everyone is struggling in their own way some more some less but we’re here for each other. There is help available.”

Dawn Farm residents, or “farmers” as they’re called, are drug tested twice a week and hold each other accountable as well. They are allowed visitors.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, they can help.

Just call 734-485-8725.

More: Your Neighborhood stories

About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.