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Addicts pointed toward long-term recovery

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Chloe Dawson / The State Journal — Recovery Point is helping men — and now women — learn how to live without alcohol and drugs. Chloe Dawson / The State Journal — Recovery Point is helping men — and now women — learn how to live without alcohol and drugs.

Huntington’s Recovery Point has been helping men learn to live without alcohol and drugs since it opened in 2011.

Of the 170 men to complete the program, “fifty five percent of them are in compliance; they’re still abstinent and living productive lives,” said Recovery Point Executive Director Matt Boggs. 

Boggs said when you’re dealing with substance abuse, a number like that should be celebrated.

“I think too often, we do body counts — we focus so much on how bad the problem is and we forget wonderful agencies ... are doing great work,” he said. “There’s evidence in our communities of people who are living in long-term recovery. We all know the consequences of addiction: Just open the paper or turn on the 5 o’clock news and you can see the negative consequences. But on the flip side, I’m living in long-term recovery and I have a whole host of friends who are proof recovery works.”

 Recovery Point uses the 12-step program, with heavy emphasis on love and personal accountability, to effect change in the lives of its participants. Boggs said the average stay is around eight months, “but we tell folks to be prepared for nine to 12 months because after they graduate, there’s a three-month transitioning process where they live in transitional housing or they become a peer mentor so they can (offer) peer support to others early in their recovery. They also facilitate classes and give back what was freely given to them.”

He said seeking help with addiction takes courage.

“We typically tell them to welcome a power greater than themselves,” he said. “This is where hope is found. We encourage them when they come in: They’ve been struggling for a long time before they come here, and ultimately when they walk in the door we want to provide that person unconditional love and hope.

“I know they haven’t had that, and in a lot of cases, rightfully so — their addiction has disintegrated relationships, they’ve been less-than-average employees, not very good members of society. We want to pick them up. As they go through our process, we’ll deal with a lot of the underlying issues that continually caused them to use drug and alcohol. We teach them to cope with life without the use of addictive substances.”

Boggs said Recovery Point is abstinence-based and spiritual in nature, but not faith-based.

“(We’re) not a religious program, but ultimately one of the principals we talk about is the element of faith, the faith in something greater than yourself,” he said. “We don’t promote one pathway of religion; we let the individual choose — whether it’s a pathway to religion or no religion and they just want to be more spiritual. We’re spiritual, and any time you’re spiritual, there’s going to be an element of faith in what you believe, what you practice and how you live your life. Frankly, that’s what’s been neat to see — people coming together from all walks of life.”

 In addition to their flagship operation in Huntington, Recovery Point now has a 60-bed facility for men in Bluefield plus a 136-bed women’s recovery center in Charleston. Down the road, they’ll be opening an 85-bed facility for men in Parkersburg.

He said the wait list “is anywhere from three to six months.”

“We have hundreds of people on our waiting list, we get stacks of letters ... daily from folks looking for a way out of their active substance abuse,” he said.

“Our job, when a person enters our doors for the first time, is we have to let them know we’re there to help, to pick them up, to give the tools to enter and sustain recovery,” Boggs added. “And once they complete the program, we don’t let them drop off — we’re there to support them in after-care. We’ve got to continuously support folks in recovery. It’s a tough disease; there is no cure,.But in recovery, we have a solution.”

Not everyone can maintain their sobriety, but Boggs said they keep tabs on their alums. 

“We know where the majority of them are,” he said. “In a few situations, because of (certain) circumstances, we’re  unable to communicate with them. But we do a good job, even if they’re not doing well or in compliance, of keeping track of where they’re at and letting them know our doors are open when they’re ready.”

Relapses aren’t uncommon, “though it doesn’t have to be that way,” he said.

“We want to do the best we can to support those individuals, let them know they can get off the elevator before it hits the ground floor,” he said. “We do have folks who just might not be at the point in their process where they are ready to change their entire life. We wish them well, and definitely we’re still available if they decide they want help.

“The disease of addiction is cunning, it’s baffling and it’s powerful,” he said. “We do have folks leave, but a lot of them we end up seeing again at some point. Others are less fortunate, they lose their life to substance abuse.”

This story first appeared in the print edition of The State Journal. Click HERE to subscribe.

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