New re­cov­ery pro­gram fights opi­oid epi­demic

McShin Foun­da­tion Hopewell Day Pro­gram of­fers ad­dic­tion treat­ment

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By Kate Gib­son Staff Writer

HOPEWELL — Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Rick New­man saw a ma­jor hole in the city’s de­fense against the opi­oid cri­sis.

“To be­gin with, there was nowhere in Hopewell for any­one to go who had sub­stance abuse is­sues,” New­man said.

He de­cided to con­nect with John Shin­holser, pres­i­dent of the McShin Foun­da­tion, Vir­ginia’s top fullser­vice, non-profit Re­cov­ery Com­mu­nity Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The re­sult: the new McShin Foun­da­tion Hopewell Day Pro­gram, an ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery pro­gram run out of City Point Restora­tion Church of God. The Cen­ter op­er­ates Mon­day through Fri­day, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., and of­fers peer-to-peer sup­port and a se­ries of groups fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing life skills and cop­ing skills.

Th­ese groups are about “get­ting to the root of the prob­lem of your ad­dic­tion, so you can work through it and learn how to live life on life’s terms,” said peer leader and cen­ter op­er­a­tor Patsy Gar­nett, “with­out the use of any drugs or any mind- or mood-al­ter­ing sub­stances.”

The cen­ter hosts a Nar­cotics Anony­mous and Al­co­holics Anony­mous group meet­ing at noon ev­ery week day and stays open on Satur­days from 12–5 p.m. to host com­mu­nity ser­vice work and pro­vide a safe space for par­tic­i­pants to spend time.

The pro­gram it­self costs $30 per week.

“You’re spend­ing more than that in ad­dic­tion,” Gar­nett said.

“You’re spend­ing hun­dreds of dol­lars a day to sup­port your habit, so $30 a week for the ser­vices that we of­fer ... I don’t think that’s a lot to ask.”

A ma­jor com­po­nent of this cen­ter’s work is the pre­trial de­fer­ral pro­gram for peo­ple fac­ing drug charges. Th­ese in­di­vid­u­als have the op­por­tu­nity to go through the re­cov­ery pro­gram, which can take a year or longer, in ex­change for re­duced or dis­missed charges.

The pre­trial de­fer­ral pro­gram “gives (peo­ple with drug charges) an in­cen­tive to want to get help, and hope­fully we’ll be able to turn them around and they’ll be­come bet­ter cit­i­zens for it,” New­man said.

“This opi­ate epi­demic, we’re not go­ing to ar­rest and lock up our way out of it,” he added. “It’s not go­ing to hap­pen. I’ve come up with this idea to try to al­le­vi­ate some of that and get peo­ple help.”

Gar­nett her­self once bat­tled an ac­tive heroin ad­dic­tion, and she was the first par­tic­i­pant in the fe­male Heroin Ad­dic­tion Re­cov­ery Pro­gram in Ch­ester­field County Jail.

“I found hope us­ing a pro­gram, and McShin was a big part of that,” she said. “... I wanted to be­come a fa­cil­i­ta­tor for the same pro­gram that built the foun­da­tion of re­cov­ery that I had.”

The pro­gram is look­ing for ad­di­tional vol­un­teers to build their peer-topeer sup­port pro­gram. Ide­ally, th­ese vol­un­teers would be fa­mil­iar with ad­dic­tion, whether they have ex­pe­ri­enced it them­selves or have a loved one who has dealt with it.

For suc­cess­ful re­cov­ery, Gar­nett said that build­ing per­sonal con­nec­tions is key.

“If some­one called me in the mid­dle of the night and said, ‘Patsy, I’m hav­ing a hard time,’ I would def­i­nitely talk them through it,” she said. “That’s the good thing about this pro­gram: we’re there for you. There’s al­ways some­one who can an­swer the phone when you’re hav­ing a rough time or you’re hav­ing a weak mo­ment that talks you through it.”

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