Ohio Haunted House Gives Back To Recovery Community

By David Konow 10/24/17

“We’re trying to build a distraction for people who need it," says the co-owner of Distracted Haunted House.

a fun two-story haunted house

Distracted Haunted House in Perrysburg, Ohio is a Halloween attraction where many of the volunteers are in recovery. The volunteers are recruited by Scott Francis, who co-owns Distracted Haunted House, from rehabs like Team Recovery and the Zepf Center.

As Francis told The Toledo Blade, “We definitely have people in recovery who are actors,” while others help out with other aspects of the attraction like construction, makeup, promotion, and more. There are over 100 volunteers involved with Distracted Haunted House, and the money that is generated from ticket sales goes back into the recovery community.

As Fear Distracted’s website states, when they worked with Team Recovery, “[We] quickly discovered that Distracted could provide so much more than just scares.” When volunteers come aboard the Distracted Haunted House, it helps “relieve stress of everyday life during recovery and created unique shared experiences and opportunities for team support. It also productively occupied idle time over weekends that otherwise could contribute to or trigger relapse.”

The name "Fear Distracted" directly refers to a way that people can recover from addiction, by using distractions to avoid drugs. As Francis explains, “We’re trying to build a distraction for people who need it.”

Matt Bell, a former baseball player who is the co-founder and president of Team Recovery, said that being involved in the Distracted Haunted House is “one of the best things I’ve ever done in the social realm of my recovery." He added, "Not only was it extremely fun and entertaining, it was a great way for my team members and I to get active and stay busy together in a safe, sober environment.”

Several people with addiction spoke to WTOL last Halloween about participating in Fear Distracted. At that time, Matt Bell had hit his one-year milestone of sobriety.

“A year ago if you would of asked how things would be, I would have never thought they would be this good,” he said. “It was just a repetitious cycle of jails, institutions and overdoses, pushing everybody in my family away from me. It's good to be back here not only sober but having fun with other sober people and giving back to the community too.”

Michael Grobe, a volunteer from Zepf Recovery House, added, “I get to come here, I get to scream and release all my stress, I love it.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.