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A Key Figure During the Hard Times: Nick Albaugh’s Story

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Nick Albaugh is the Executive Director of Awakenings Recovery Center in Hagerstown, Maryland. Born and raised in Silver Spring, Albaugh is one of six children, all boys. He says that mental health disorders were present in his family.

Albaugh remembers feeling from an early age that he didn’t fit in with his neighborhood or with the cliques in school.

“At 14 I found alcohol and marijuana, and never cared about fitting in anymore,” Albaugh says. “It numbed all those feelings.”

Despite feeling some social relief from using, Albaugh’s drinking and drugging spiraled out of control quickly. By age 19, Albaugh was arrested during a drug feud. He recalls having his mugshot posted in the news and other places around Montgomery County. After his arrest, the jail addiction services recommended that he attend inpatient treatment as part of his recognizance program.

“I went to a 28-day facility, and that’s where I started my journey in recovery,” Albaugh says. “I always wanted to work in the helping field. I wanted to be a psychiatrist to help people with severe and persistent mental health disorders. After getting clean, I got my GED, and got a job at the same facility where I got clean.”

Albaugh started off working as a Behavioral Health Technician in the Rockville facility, and within a few years was promoted to case manager. During his time working at the facility, he became close friends with his co-worker Kabir Singh, who is now the Vice President of Operations for Amatus Recovery Centers.

Singh became acquainted with Michael Silberman, the COO of Amatus Recovery Centers, and began planning the opening of a Gaithersburg facility called Fresh Start Recovery Center. Albaugh was chosen as the center’s Director of Operations.

After some time at Fresh Start, Albaugh was promoted to be Amatus Recovery Centers’ Director of Licensing and Compliance. During that time he helped form another center called Awakenings Recovery Center that provided services for the Maryland Medicaid population.

“One of my biggest dreams was working with the uninsured or underinsured–to open a facility that dealt strictly with the Medicaid population,” Albaugh said. “In Hagerstown, drugs are really running rampant. I saw Hagerstown as an area where we could provide a service that was sorely needed.”

After several months in operation, Awakenings needed a new Executive Director.  Albaugh accepted the position. Now leading the center that he helped create, Albaugh is committed to providing unique and thorough services in an area that needs the help.

“We are one of the only facilities in Washington County that provides this level of services,” he says.  “One of the biggest things that makes us unique is the environment. We’re not a broken-down place. It’s a place you walk into and think, ‘This is a place where I can get clean.’We look at the individual; we don’t just blanket everything to everybody. We don’t look at you as a statistic–we look at you as a person.”

This includes Awakenings’ dedicated discharge planners.

“We don’t let people leave without a discharge plan,” Albaugh said. “The Continuum of Care, for us, is the most important thing we can do. We give the person the most opportunities for maintaining long-term sobriety.”

When asked about the most rewarding part of his work, Albaugh always shares the same story.

“Seven or eight years ago, I had a client who was a seasoned alcoholic. Drinking, homeless, estranged from his family for decades,” Albaugh said. “When I worked in long-term care we sat down and he wrote a letter to his mother, who he hadn’t talked to in years. Three of four weeks later his mom sent a letter back and he wanted me to read it to him.Being that key figure for a person during the hardest time in their lives is what it’s all about.”