Where People Show the Way Out
“If you have an electrical problem in your house, you don’t call a plumber. You call an electrician.” With that simple analogy, Greg Perry sums up the philosophy that guides Recovery Point West Virginia. He’s more than just the program’s Director of Recovery Support Services; he’s in recovery himself, just like more than 90% of his coworkers. That’s because having a team of people in recovery, who have struggled with addiction themselves, is a priority.
“There’s something unique about walking into a building and knowing that every person you see is a person in long-term recovery, and most likely a graduate of that model,” Perry explains. “So, it’s all based on identifying with others who’ve been there and done that.”
Healing Place of Huntington opened with 30 beds in 2011. It was based on the social model used at The Healing Place in Louisville, Kentucky where there’s no clinical component. It’s all people helping people.
The response was strong because, as Perry explains, the facility operates “in the worst city in the worst county in the worst state in the country in terms of drug overdose rates.”
By 2015, the name was changed to Recovery Point. It expanded to over 360 beds at four facilities in Huntington, Charleston, Bluefield, and Parkersburg.“
What makes the Recovery Point organization different is it’s solely peer-to-peer in nature,” says Executive Director Terry Danielson. “If you have an addiction or substance use disorder problem, you go to someone who’s been there and done that and got out of it, and you ask them to show you. You instantly have a network. You’re instantly connected. They say substance use disorder is a lack of connections. When you enter a peer-to-peer program, you instantly have tens, hundreds, and eventually thousands of connections that you are always plugged in to.”
Recovery Point offers non-medical detox and operates in two phases. In the first, participants complete a 12 step program. Phase 2 consists of living in transitional housing or becoming a peer mentor. Mentors sign a 3-month contract and receive a stipend while helping up to 10 clients work through recovery.“
Many times, people come into these programs very selfish and self-centered,” Perry says. “Mentoring often produces a change. It helps them focus on other people.”
Of Recovery Point’s current 104 employees, 92% have completed the program or are in recovery. “Getting a paycheck is the last reason why someone does this. It’s more about helping others the way you’ve been helped. Paychecks are nice, but we get our compensation in other ways, such as seeing someone achieve a goal or reach a milestone.”
Recovery Point West Virginia was a featured award winner in the 2019 Innovation Now project of the Addiction Policy Forum.