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Addiction Recovery Centers Showing Positive Results, Says Report

Last year, Vermont’s 11 "recovery centers" got almost 180,000 visits from people fighting various kinds of substance abuse. A new report from the Vermont Recovery Network finds the centers helped people turn their lives away from addiction. 

Over the past seven years, over 500 center visitors were asked to provide information about the impact these services had on their lives. The findings measure the effectiveness of the network.

The centers scattered throughout the state do not provide clinical addiction treatment or transitional drugs like methadone. Instead, they link clients to peer support groups and social services to help them become less dependent on drugs and alcohol. Recovery Network Director Mark Ames says recovery support helps people replace drug and alcohol addiction with healthier lifestyles.

“If you have a chronic disease that is typified by relapse, you need to have some way to support yourself living on through your life without relapsing,” he said.

Seventy-six percent of visitors surveyed for the study said the recovery center helped reduce the frequency and length of relapses.

According to the report, the average visitor comes to a center three to four times a week; 91 percent reported improvement in their wellbeing and health; 28 percent reported stopping smoking; 58 percent said they found work after coming to a center.

Center clients were also asked about criminal involvement before and after seeking help from the network. Forty-six percent reported criminal activity before, but not after coming to a center; 42 percent reported no criminal activity at all, and 10 percent continued to be involved in crime even after coming to a center.

The report shows an 18 percent rise in employment among center visitors over the seven years of data collection. Fifty percent of respondents said they found housing through a center.

According to the report, “all of Vermont’s recovery centers now host half-time ‘pathway guides,’ who are working with opiate treatment providers and receiving referrals for one-on-one support and/or facilitated peer recovery support.”

“We got a federal grant in the recovery network to help support that effort,” Ames said. “We help people recovering from opiate addiction work on their diet, get more exercise, repair their family relationships, and get a clear path toward a group of people they can spend time with who are not going to lead them back to using.”

Supported by about a million dollars in state grants and another approximately $500,000 in local funding, plus volunteer time valued at about a million dollars, recovery centers are now located in St. Albans, Morrisville, Burlington, St. Johnsbury, Barre, Middlebury, Rutland, Bennington, Springfield, Brattleboro, and White River Junction. Plans are underway for a new one in Newport.

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
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