Imagine if every citizen in New York was grappling with addiction. What would happen to its families, its communities, its businesses, its art? What kind of drain would that put on state and national resources? How would it shape the lives of future generations?
Diffuse the population of New York across America, and that’s what we’re looking at. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 19.7 million Americans are struggling with a substance use disorder – in fact, that’s more than the entire population of New York state. National Recovery Month, recognized each September, illuminates the struggles of these men, women, and children, and invites us to celebrate those in recovery and imagine what would happen if everyone experiencing the disease could be healed. How would they transform their families and communities? What kind of art would they create, or what businesses would they start? How might future generations benefit from their gifts and talents?
We’re delighted to highlight the work of our Catalysts that are not only asking these questions but also coming up with some pretty amazing answers. By treating those with substance use disorders as full human beings, worthy of respect and capable of transformation, these innovative nonprofits are working to eliminate the barriers that can hinder people from fully recovering and realizing their true potential.
Here’s how they’re doing it:
The Phoenix believes that there are two keys to substance use recovery: community and activity. Founder Scott Strode found that his own recovery process was easier when he was climbing mountains or running races and wanted to provide a network of support to others who wanted to get sober. He launched The Phoenix in 2006, and since then, it’s grown from its roots in Denver to nearly 50 locations across the country. Participants run, bike, climb and train their way toward recovery – and 75% of them find it long-term.
Face It Together combines the cutting-edge power of technology with the tried-and-true power of compassion to help individuals with substance use disorders. Participants are mentored by coaches with personal experience around addiction, either in themselves or with a family member. Coaches are available via phone, message, video-chat or in-person, and they use data and personalized assessments to guide their mentees toward holistic healing– emotional, relational, and physical. These interventions are not just helping individuals, but they’re helping communities at large. Every $1 spent on coaching results in a $12 return on investment, as participants find themselves more capable of living out their potential in their families, jobs, and neighborhoods.
Thistle Farms strives to create a space of healing for women who have experienced prostitution, trafficking, addiction – or, as is often the case, a harrowing combination of all. Women participate in Magdalene, a two-year residential program where they can slowly heal, find community and work their way toward self-sufficiency. After completing this program, they work at one of two Nashville-based social enterprises: a nonprofit that creates small-batch body and home products and a full-service café and special events space. The proceeds from these nonprofits go directly back into opening up new job opportunities for other program participants. Graduates have access to other critical services, including emergency loans and job skills training. It’s a wraparound approach that works: 85% of graduates achieve sobriety and self-sufficiency.
TROSA is a multi-year residential substance abuse treatment program that provides comprehensive recovery services. Through community life and responsibilities, participants recover a sense of purpose and accountability, acquiring job skills in industries like moving, construction, lawn care and office administration. Because TROSA believes that recovery is an ongoing, long-term process, it provides critical continuing care services to former participants, including access to affordable, safe housing, transportation to and from work, and support networks designed to avert relapse. Their thorough, thoughtful method is making a huge difference: One year after treatment, 90% of grads report sobriety.
Project LIFT started when therapist Bob Zaccheo Jr. found that he was hitting a dead end. Running substance abuse therapy sessions for young men, he found them consistently disaffected and disengaged. It wasn’t until he took them to a garage to work on automobile repair that they opened up – and Project Lift was born. Combining substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, mentoring and vocational skills training, the program seeks to empower teens and their families to overcome addiction. A program for girls was added in 2016, giving young women the opportunity to build skills in areas like sewing and construction and attend workshops on topics like wellness and the arts. Through this creative, activity-oriented approach, 83% of participants leave the program sober.
Recovery Café is a space where Washington State adults struggling with a substance use disorder can find hope and healing. The café provides free meals and coffee, access to computers and an atmosphere of mutual support and celebration. It also conducts a variety of treatment and education programs, including a School for Recovery for members and volunteers, and 12-step programs for alcohol, drugs, and overeating. Members can serve as volunteers, acquiring basic skills in communication and leadership that will serve them on the path to recovery and self-sufficiency. They can also request to be connected with services in housing, mental and physical healthcare and legal assistance. It’s a place where lives are changed: 84% of members say they feel more hopeful since joining the café, and 70% say they avoided relapse because of it.
During National Recovery Month, we invite you to join us in supporting the transformative work of these social entrepreneurs through the Giving Together Initiative. Stand Together Foundation will double any contributions made to partners working to bring restoration to those struggling with addiction – all you have to do is identify a nonprofit whose mission aligns with your passions. Get started here!