There is no denying that the Eastern Panhandle, like so much of the state, is awash in drugs, particularly opiates, so it can be helpful to see what programs are working in other locations.
Recovery Point West Virginia, founded in Huntington in 2011 as a residential program with beds for 25 men, has grown to 100 beds. Additional men’s facilities opened in Bluefield and Parkersburg, one for women in Charleston, and a Mt. Hope facility is in progress. The programs are completely free to clients with all types of substance addiction, including alcohol, methamphetamine, and opiates. All support comes from donations, grants, and fundraisers.
Recovery Point is a peer-driven model based on a successful Kentucky program with a 12-step program. Traditional treatment centers use a clinical model with licensed counselors and physicians. A peer-driven model uses peer mentors—program graduates—to facilitate classes and meetings, provide support, and demonstrate successful recovery. Residents become a therapeutic community.
This is a “no-med” recovery program. There is no pharmaceutical assistance to clients in the detox process.
Rachel Thaxton, director of development, explained, “Clients who have been through it already talk to them and help them through withdrawal. A trained detox monitor monitors vital signs. If withdrawal symptoms are life-threatening, we send the person to the hospital immediately.”
A new client gets a bed, a buddy for support, and spends five to seven days in detox. He/she gets a work assignment (kitchen, cleanup, etc.) in exchange for room and board, and must attend classes, meetings, and weekly group meetings to discuss progress. Personal responsibility is emphasized.
In the next stage, residents must get and hold a job and pay a small amount of rent.
This keeps costs down, averaging just $25 per person per day—as opposed to an average of $250 per day in traditional treatment facilities.
Alternatively, the client can become a Peer Mentor on site—facilitating classes and sharing their experiences with clients—in exchange for room and board and a small stipend.
“They are the backbone of the peer-driven model,” said Thaxton. “The residential program lasts seven to nine months, and there is three months mandatory after-care.”
The third phase is transitional living in the Phase II House. Clients get a job, pay rent, attend meetings, and sign in and out. The community decides when someone is ready to leave.
A Phase II Coordinator in each facility helps clients with employment issues, and residents take life skills classes to help them transition to life outside. The communities of Charleston and Huntington have good relations with Recovery Point, and there are employers willing to hire graduates and give them a chance to rebuild their lives.
Thaxton reports that about 65 percent of those completing the program are clean for a year, and of those, 80 percent are still clean in five years. This is roughly five times the national average for successful recovery in traditional facilities.
Recovery Point has no current plans of expanding to serve the Eastern Panhandle, but future expansion is not entirely off the table. Since the program is free, there are always waiting lists. Thaxton encourages people needing help to call and continue to call every day to see if a bed has opened up.