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House of Mercy offering family group discussions

Intended to help family members coping with loved ones’ addiction issues

Larry Rossow has seen the need for substance abuse and addiction counseling grow in Newton and Jasper County firsthand.

As the initial clinician when House of Mercy opened in the former Meisner Building in Newton three and a half years ago, he has seen the demand grow to where it now features three substance abuse counselors and two mental health clinicians. But House of Mercy’s services haven’t ended there.

“We noted there were many parents, spouses and loved ones who needed help, too,” Rossow said. “They were wondering, ‘What do we do?’ So, about six months ago, we began offering family group sessions.”

Unlike rigidly structured programs, like Al-Anon and Alateen, the family group sessions at House of Mercy are intended to be informal discussions where family members can freely discuss the issues they face. It is open to the general public, not just the families of House of Mercy clients, and there is no cost to attend the monthly meetings.

“We meet for an hour and a half once a month, on the second Tuesday each month from 6 to 7:30 p.m.,” Rossow said. “It’s not intended for a particular age range, either. Children can attend, too.”

Rossow said he has found some families are hesitant to come because they feel shame, or because they feel like they are alone. He said once they come to a group session, they quickly realize there are many others in the same boat.

“Just like with mental illness, there’s a stigma, as though they think it’s something wrong,” he said. “They feel like it’s a struggle, and they don’t know what to do. We don’t want them to feel like they’re the only ones out there with this problem.”

“They’ll be amazed, once they open up,” he added. “It takes a load off them, it’s a relief. They build bonds together.”

House of Mercy is an extension of Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. The original House of Mercy is a residential treatment facility for women, providing counseling for drugs and alcohol, as well as mental illness.

House of Mercy took over substance abuse and addiction counseling services in Jasper County in 2010. Services are provided on a sliding scale, based on income, but the goal is to get treatment to those who need it.

“We don’t want them to not get treatment because they feel like they can’t pay,” Rossow said. “Our goal is to get them the treatment they need.”

Rossow said the counselors at House of Mercy will speak one-on-one with anyone interested in family group sessions. He said it can be a good way for some people to ease into the program.

For more information, call (641) 792-0717.

Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at

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