Jan and Dan Stuckey see themselves as the neighbors standing on the other side of the fence. All you have to do is approach them to find out what they know.

Turns out, they know a thing or two about addiction and how to deal with it. Their information comes first-hand from their son John’s addiction to heroin. He is in recovery now, but his battle and their struggle to deal with it prompted the Burnt Store Isles residents to start Archway Academy, an all-volunteer nonprofit that is working in seven states.

Established in 2013, Archway advocates for caregivers and individuals dealing with a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol. It drives education and awareness of issues surrounding addiction and it raises fund as scholarships for those who cannot afford a recovery program.

“We want to help other families avoid going on the same journey we went on,” Dan said.

The family was living in St. Louis when John, one of their four children, got hooked on heroin. John was about 22 when he graduated from prescription drugs to the Big H.

“We were clueless,” Dan said. “We went through five years of hell. I was the typical dad who was the worst enabler in the world in that I thought it was a choice, not a disease. I kept thinking, ‘Boys will be boys. He just needs to grow up. He just needs a good ass-kickin’.’”

Dan and Jan retreated behind a veil of silence. They didn’t talk to other family members. They didn’t talk to friends. They didn’t go to Al-Anon. They tried to handle it as best they could on their own.

“We were embarrassed,” Dan said. “We thought we were bad parents. We didn’t consider that it’s a disease. You need to get professional help. You need to do it quickly.”

Dan estimates he spent more than $150,000 in legal fees, fines, debts, lost personal property, and making good for John when he stole from employers.

“This is how we started,” Dan said.

Archway was created from a crucible of mistakes and misguided thinking.

Archway’s typical financial aid is about $500 for an individual. A person who needs help can apply online at www.thearchwayinstitute.org, but must qualify with recommendations from those who work in the addiction field.

“There is one bed for every 10 people asking for help,” Dan said. “If you have insurance and can cover the deductible, you’re probably going to get that bed. “If you have insurance and have burned every bridge, you have no money and you can’t pay your deductible, you’re going to get turned down.”

Archway can bridge that gap if the person qualifies. It also will pay a month’s rent in a sober-living facility.

Archway has a benefits planned to raise funds for itself and Charlotte Behavioral Health Care in Punta Gorda. Both are at Twin Isles Country Club in Burnt Store.

A Tennis Mixer is scheduled for March 8, with registration at 1:30 p.m. A $40 entry fee gets you a minimum of two matches, a cocktail party with a cash bar, and a silent auction.

The annual Golf Scramble is set for March 9, with registration at 7 a.m. and a shotgun start at 8:15 a.m. A single golf ticket for $100 or four for $400 brings 18 holes with a cart, a lunch buffet, a silent auction and an after party. Lisa Callahan, Archway board member, is the featured speaker.

Dan needs to hear from you on both counts by March 2. You can enter through the website, www.thearchwayinstitute.org or call him at 314-452-4982, or email dan.stuckey@thearchwayinstitute.org.

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