Kevin Hourigan is the Lead Behavioral Health Technician for the IOP Program
at Fresh Start Recovery Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Originally from Bethesda, Hourigan was raised in an Irish Catholic household. He began drinking and using drugs around age 15. He didn’t find his way into recovery for another 27 years.
At one point, Hourigan tried to center his attention on his faith.
“I tried to find some solace in my relationship with God, and studied for the priesthood for seven years,” he said. “Eventually I was kicked out of the seminary for being gay.”
His expulsion from the seminary was one of many challenges that Hourigan faced. In 1994, he was diagnosed with HIV, followed by the death of his father and mother over the next ten years.
“Getting kicked out of the seminary was the beginning of the downward spiral for me,” Hourigan said. “There was a series of events that epitomized me being emotionally overwhelmed and filled with fear. I kept getting progressively worse.”
Getting Well Again
By the time Hourigan hit bottom, he was 6’1, weighing only 112 pounds, and suffering from organ failure. While in the hospital, he was offered the opportunity to attend an IOP treatment program.
“My family tried to get me into inpatient treatment, but I was so sick that they wouldn’t take me,” he said. “I went to the Suburban Hospital IOP program. By being educated about the nature of addiction, I was able to identify quickly that that’s me.”
Hourigan said his life was “radically transformed” through treatment. He ended his 25-year career in the restaurant business, and upon regaining his health, began working in the substance use treatment field.
Working in Recovery
In addition to working at Father Martin’s Ashley in Harford County for eight and a half years, Hourigan helped start a small treatment center in Havre de Grace. After that he moved back to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area to take a position as the residential manager of a halfway house. It was here that Hourigan met Kabir Singh, the co-founder of Fresh Start Recovery Center and Vice President of Operations at Amatus Health. Hourigan has worked as a Behavioral Health Technician for the facility for nearly three years.
“Fresh Start has a really good collection of people,” Hourigan said. “People are genuine and caring, and there’s a great comradery and collective lightness. We laugh a lot and joke a lot. It doesn’t take away from the serious work that we do.”
In addition to his duties as a BHT, Hourigan gives educational presentations on about a dozen topics. These include the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of recovery; Twelve-Step recovery; and practical suggestions for issues that come up in early recovery.
Hourigan says the most rewarding part of his job at Fresh Start is playing a small role in helping someone into solid recovery. Hourigan knows that being able to relate to another person in recovery is what keeps us all going.
“I went from having it made, to a horrific crash and burn, to my life being really, really good again today,” he said. “Because my bottom was so bad, something happens when I’m able to tell my story. They think, ‘If that guy can come back from his life looking like that, maybe I can too.’”