WINONA LAKE — Anyone who has ever counseled someone struggling with substance abuse knows the harsh realities involved. Barry Andrew put it this way, “it can weigh heavily on your heart and mind.”
Andrew, a native of Warsaw, is the director of the Kosciusko County Drug and Alcohol program. He and a staff of two others have an office in the Justice Building in Warsaw and serve Superior Courts 2 and 3.
Those entering the drug and alcohol program have typically committed a misdemeanor offense, been arrested for operating while under the influence, marijuana offenses or others. They go through an intake process before entering the program.
“We do an assessment to determine the level of care that can be provided,” Andrew said. “We may need to refer them to another agency.”
Written reports of the progress of those in the program are provided to the court. Progress of each person is monitored. Work is also done with Superior Court 1 and circuit court.
Growing up in Warsaw, Andrew did not necessarily foresee himself becoming a counselor. He had played soccer since the age of 5, including on travel teams in middle school, and played through his high school years, graduating from Warsaw Community High School in 1994. He then went to Grace College on a soccer scholarship.
From 1994 to 1997, he roamed the soccer fields for Grace College but was unable to play during his senior year due to health problems. Through an odd twist of fate, Andrew was led into seeking to become a counselor. He had enrolled in the IPFW nursing program in 1998, but “life events changed and God’s plans led me into counseling.”
He said his heart was softened at that time and he was able to better understand the people he would eventually be serving. From 1998 to 2003, he worked full-time as a counselor for Bowen Center where he did individual and group substance abuse counseling.
On Aug. 25, 2003, almost exactly 16 years ago, he became director of the county’s drug and alcohol program. He noted his position allows him to help hurting people who need support.
He works with people one on one and also in a class setting. There is level one and level two substance abuse education. “We teach them to make healthier choices,” he said.
Andrew helped start the drug court and community corrections program for Kosciusko County, which began in January 2014. “These programs address root causes and mental health issues and struggles,” he said. “We are addressing the heart issues. It is holistic.”
Admittedly, substance abuse counseling is a difficult job at times. Those who are being counseled struggle deeply. It can be challenging for the counselor, too, but “it is an opportunity to serve God, provide hope each day and encourage and support people.”
A man of the Christian faith, Andrew and his family attend Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church. He is married to Joye and they have five children, Tate, Reid, Max, Ben and Lucy. Ben and Lucy were adopted from Haiti.
Barry is also able to be close to the sport of soccer he has had a life long passion for as a high school official. He officiates both boys and girls high school matches in the fall, then in the spring does Indiana Soccer League matches.
“It is a great outlet, stress relief and helps keep me in shape,” he noted. The Andrew family is also heavily involved in 4-H and live in Winona Lake.