FALMOUTH – William Dougherty calls it the broken shoelaces of life – the little things that make it tough for an addict to stay sober.

”Sometimes it’s ‘Where is the next nickel coming from?”’ Dougherty said. ”There is a whole bunch of stuff about getting better that has nothing to do with counseling.”

Earlier this year, Dougherty left his position as a case manager at Gosnold treatment center in Falmouth to start the burgeoning nonprofit group Recovery Without Walls.

Other organizations offer counseling to substance abusers and help get them well. Dougherty wants to do the little things, such as give them rides to appointments, provide money for first month’s rent and dental care, and introduce them to mentors in the community.

Dougherty also hopes to provide a clearinghouse of information for people who get out of treatment programs and need to begin their lives again.

Peter Kirwin, director of human services in Falmouth, said the organization fills a need in the community.

”Oftentimes, they are without funds, without a job. It can be incredibly frustrating for any individual to be in that kind of situation – and these folks are coping with trying to maintain their sobriety,” Kirwin said.

Dougherty’s goal was to help between 50 and 60 people in his first year. Since he started running Recovery Without Walls full time in March, he’s had 28 clients referred to him by other organizations.

He hopes to have a Capewide network of volunteers by the end of the year.

With a handful of volunteers and a pair of used Volvos, Dougherty estimates they are racking up 600 or 700 miles every week driving folks to various appointments.

He’s committed to taking one client, who is without a license, to a corrections program for 120 days, so she can complete her sentence. He hasn’t missed a day.

Another of Recovery Without Walls’ first clients, a 39-year-old woman who has struggled with alcohol and drug abuse for 20 years, said Dougherty introduced her to strong, supportive female mentors in the community and helped her learn how to ask for help.

”I need guidance, and he is helping me put structure into my life,” she said. ”I’m building a good life here, now.”

This week, she started a new job, and she has been sober for almost six months.

In return for the service, Dougherty asks those he helps to give back some time to the community. Dougherty, one of the original Falmouth Road Race organizers, said volunteering can help break the isolation of addiction.

”It’s one thing to get out into the community. It’s another to become part of it, to become a volunteer,” he said.

One client, a 23-year-old woman recovering from cocaine and heroin addiction, said she already has volunteered at a charity tennis tournament and has been a mentor to other young women getting treatment at Gosnold’s Emerson House of West Falmouth.

”You not only feel like you are part of the community, but you have something else that you are responsible for. All those things take you out of yourself, and you focus on something outside yourself,” she said.

She also plans to volunteer for the nonprofit’s golf tournament and picnic July 9 at the Falmouth Country Club.

So far, Recovery Without Walls has run on start-up money from Dougherty and timely donations from friends. He’s also applied for grants.

The golf tournament is the organization’s first fundraiser. Dougherty hopes to raise $6,000.

Amanda Lehmert can be reached at

(Published: July 2, 2006)

Copyright © Cape Cod Times. All rights reserved.