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Recovery Point benefits from United Way of the River Cities

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One thing is clear in 45-year-old Bobby Meadows’ mind. He said if he had not begun recovery for his addiction, “I’d probably be spending my life in prison or be dead.” His story, however, is not an isolated one.

On Aug. 15, 2016, in the small West Virginia city of Huntington, paramedics responded to 27 heroin overdoses in a four-hour span. The incident, which resulted in one death, likely did not surprise residents of the community. In 2015, West Virginia was ranked the number one state for deaths due to overdose by the CDC. In 2016 alone, 818 people in the state died due to drug overdoses.

Meadows is just one of hundreds of people in the state affected by drug addiction, but is also one of the many people seeking help. For the past four months, Meadows has received treatment for his addiction at Recovery Point of Huntington, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting members of the community with addiction recovery.

The program began as the Healing Place of Huntington in 2011, when it was only a 20-bed facility. Now, Recovery Point of Huntington is a 100-bed facility that has expanded to several locations, including Bluefield, Charleston and Parkersburg, where the newest facility is being constructed, and HER Place in Huntington.

Clients who join Recovery Point of Huntington stay at the facility for six to 12 months, where they complete a five-step program and are required to follow a strict set of rules.

The program consists of a three to 10-day non-medicated detox, “off the streets I,” which lasts one to three months, “off the streets II,” which lasts two to six weeks and includes clients attending classes and being assigned job duties, a four to six-month “phase I,” when clients are given extended jobs and go through the 12-steps of the recovery program with a peer mentor, and a three-month “phase II,” when clients can choose between being paid a stipend to act as a peer mentor or paying $60 per week to be placed in transitional housing.

While space is limited, graduates of the program who relapse are guaranteed a spot back at Recovery Point of Huntington.

“When I relapsed, I didn’t waste any time,” said Jason Wickline, a 38-year-old graduate of the program. “I relapsed for five days straight and immediately called here and got a bed back because I knew what was coming. It’s a little different situation this time not having the courts order it. I knew I’d end up dead.”

Although it takes about $25 per day per person to fund the program, clients stay at Recovery Point of Huntington for free. Lara Lawson, development director for Recovery Point of Huntington, said about 72 percent of funding comes from state grants. Other funding comes from direct donations, private foundations and allocations of money from organizations such as United Way of the River Cities.

In 2015, health services accounted for 29 percent of the $405,865 that United Way of the River Cities dispersed throughout the areas it serves. $19,000 of that went directly to Recovery Point of Huntington. Recovery Point of Huntington’s expenses in 2016, however, totaled $1,338,498.

“I think our partnership with United Way is important in that we share the same goal of fighting this huge public health epidemic,” Lawson said. “It’s more than just a monetary partnership.”

Laura Gilliam, executive director of United Way of the River Cities, said that although addiction services is a critical issue to be heavily considered if a grant comes through, prevention is equally as important.

“The other thing we are committed to and we have to remind people of regularly is that if you can get in and do prevention work, you’re not going to have people at Recovery Point, you’re not going to have people at Renaissance Place, you’re not going to have people overdosing on heroin and having to use Narcan,” Gilliam said. “Our approach is that treatment and recovery is exceptionally valuable, and law enforcement has to be a part of it, but if you leave out the prevention piece, then you have left out a huge part of the puzzle.”

Olivia Zarilla can be contacted at [email protected]

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