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Bringing holistic recovery home

June 28, 2012
by Linda Grove-Paul
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Linda Grove-Paul

Addiction destroys the mind, body and spirit, causing widespread damage to individuals’ lives. It is a chronic illness that can lead to job loss, fractured relationships and lost opportunities as well as lifelong and detrimental physical health issues.

The holistic impact of addiction on a person’s life can make recovery challenging. Addiction professionals see individuals who repeatedly exit and enter treatment programs, their recovery hindered my many compounding factors. To address these factors and improve individuals’ chances at sustained recovery,the Midwest behavioral health provider organization Centerstone created “Recovery Engagement Centers,”which employ a Recovery-Oriented System of Care approach to offer comprehensive, low-barrier recovery resources for the mind and body in a friendly community setting.

Centerstone’s Recovery Engagement Centers offer a place of support, hope and information through a variety of channels,and encourage each participant to take a lead role in his or her own recovery. The centers address the specific needs and desires of the recovering person, offering resources for finding housing and employment, peer recovery support networks, volunteer opportunities in the local community, and 12-Step support groups.

Each center employs trained recovery coaches to assist participants in gaining access to community resources and in buildingupon their strengths. Coaches also work directly with participants to secure housing, search for employment, navigate social service networks and walk beside them to build self-esteem, hope and concrete life skills. Also, Recovery Engagement Center participants are invited to share their stories of success and to encourage oneanother throughout their time at the center, proving firsthand how aligning treatment with one’s strengths and interests yields full recovery.


Broadening access

An integral component to successful Recovery Engagement Centers is location. Where an REC is located and the transportation resources available for prospective participants are key factors to ensuring that all participants have easy access to all that the center offers. This can be particularly difficult to carry out in rural communities, which often lack means of mass transit.

In order to expand geographic access to its addiction support and comprehensive care services, Centerstone is developing a virtual Recovery Engagement Center, or V-REC. Using web-based technology, V-REC will allow those individuals who do not have a means of transportation or who live in more remote areas to have access to the information and resources that Recovery Engagement Centers offer. The V-REC also will allow the participant to connect virtually with others in recovery, to speak to a recovery coach via web chats, and to build a virtual support network online.

V-REC also will provide information on housing and employment and access to peer support and addiction treatment resources, as well as a community event calendar, lists of local employment opportunities and links to other online resources that can be accessed 24/7 from one’s computer. Vocational support continues once an individual is in the workforce. Site monitors will regularly police the site to help direct participants, monitor for irregular behavior, and ensure that participants’ information is protected.

As most clinical professionals in the field of addictions know, individuals with substance abuse issues are often ambivalent about getting treatment. The stigma associated with receiving treatment for addictions makessome more reluctant to seek help initially or tomeet face-to-face with a counselor. With the growth of the Internet, however, individuals can benefit from an expanding online network of tools and resources. For some, this is an easier and more effective way to eliminate barriers to treatment and to engage at one’s own speed.

This non-traditional approach also appeals to a younger, more plugged-in generation. And for those who have minimal experience with computers, V-REC provides the added benefit of teaching useful Internet navigation and technical skills.


Layers of care

Centerstone’s V-REC is part of a larger grant-supported program known as E-ROSC that allows for a deeper level of support for individuals who meet residency guidelines. Through an embedded login component, E-ROSC will provide personal recovery coaching tailored specifically to a participant’s needs. In addition, the E-ROSC portal will host integrated healthcare tracking for its participants and will keep an active log of their physical and mental health issues and concerns.

By streamlining this content online, Centerstone hopes to instigate wellness responsibility and to treat holistically the unique physical and behavioral health issues with which each person is struggling. E-ROSC also will allow the recovery coach, participant and other care team members to set physical and behavioral health goals with one another and to keep a running log of their progress through anoptional recovery journal or blog. Also, a text message alert system is available for communication between providers and participants.