In 2021 Stepping Stones will celebrate 50 years of service to individuals struggling with a substance use disorder. From the vision of two Alano Club members and with the assistance of Joliet city government seed money, the Joliet Half-Way House was incorporated in 1971. Prior to that year, there were no residential facilities in Will County, which caused people to seek treatment at hospitals or treatment centers elsewhere. The Joliet Halfway House and Sheltering Arms (incorporated in 1977) were consolidated to form Stepping Stones, Inc. in 1991. In 2019, Stepping Stones acquired 1114 N Larkin and relocated Administration, Admissions and Outpatient services. This allows Stepping Stones to increase access and capacity in residential and other services.

Over the years, we have seen significant changes. Whereas addiction was once seen as a moral failing, we now understand that a substance use disorder is a chronic health condition that responds to treatment. The demographic profile has evolved as well. In the 1970s, the typical person in treatment was between 30 and 50 years old. Now, those entering treatment tend to be younger.

In the 1970s, people primarily sought treatment for a problem with alcohol. In the 1980s and 1990s, cocaine and marijuana came to the fore. Now, heroin and prescription drugs have a prominent place in the list of addictive substances while alcohol continues to be a factor.


Finally, and most importantly, treatment has shifted from a simple admonition to remain abstinent to an array of effective techniques to help and support people in recovery. Treatment has become far more individualized and includes meeting a broad array of needs, including care for medical or mental health conditions. This person-centered approach entails the individual playing a greater role in identifying their needs and recovery goals. Rather than directing treatment, counselors collaborate with the individual and their significant others to develop their individual treatment plan.


Treatment has shifted from thinking of recovery as a one-time “fix” to understanding that recovery is a long- term process. When an individual’s recovery is at risk, the person is encouraged to re-enter treatment.