A new approach to drug rehab

FRESNO, Calif.

Edward Nutt and his two-and-a-half year old son Eddie were living on the streets of Fresno until July. Edward's cocaine habit took priority over parenting. But someone told him about a program at WestCare that would help him get clean -- with little Eddie right there beside him.

"It's a responsibility I have to take on. That's one of the reasons why I came into the program -- to get that help as part of my history that I need help on," the elder Nutt said.

Edward and Eddie are part of the Papa Natal program, a venture suggested by a WestCare patient. WestCare already had a similar program for moms and it had proven successful, so the staff decided to create Papa Natal for dads.

Stephen Eldrige came to WestCare last winter after years of using meth. Child protective services had taken his 3-year-old son Skyler and put him in foster care. But as Stephen got sober and more healthy, Skyler moved to WestCare with his dad.

"It's been great. It's the reason why I'm sober. He's like my little right hand man," Elridge said.

Cleadus Shelton is the senior residential counselor for men at WestCare. He says the Papa Natal program not only teaches dads about sobriety but how to communicate with their children in healthy ways and how to take responsibility for daily activities like eating regular meals, bathing and doing chores.

"When we talk about uplifting the human spirit, which is WestCare's motto, these three year old children do that on a daily basis just by being present in the recovery process," Shelton said.

Some say if it weren't for this program they'd be back out on the streets or worse -- dead.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.