Safe Recovery: Helping People Through the Recovery Process
Safe Recovery Program Coordinator Tom Dalton is quick to point out that recovery is a process that takes place over time. “For most people, the recovery process includes periods of use and non-use. Safe Recovery is a safe place for people to come to for support, even if they are currently using. Helping someone stay safe today, whether or not they are using today, is an important part of supporting their recovery.”
The program offers support for people living with addiction to opioids, or who have injected any drug. Because clients are often at risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis A/B, and Hepatitis C, the program provides free testing and vaccinations. A key component to keep people safe is the syringe exchange program. On an average day, 80 people may come into the exchange. This past year, Safe Recovery added another option for clients and began distributing overdose rescue kits that contain naloxone, a nasal spray used to reverse an opioid overdose.
Dalton says, “We engage people who are actively using and support them as they transition from active use to active recovery. We are an important bridge to treatment for hundreds of people every year.” Clients may be referred to the Chittenden Clinic, Howard Center’s medication assisted treatment program for opiate use, as well as other needed services. Dalton adds, “We help people with all issues—housing, health insurance, and legal problems. We know that everything has to be stabilized in a person’s life for them to be successful in recovery.”
The vaccinations are part of the goal of keeping people safe while in recovery. Dalton points out that there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, and prevalence is high among people who inject in Vermont. The treatment to cure the disease can be as much as $80,000-$100,000. Providing access to sterile syringes and other supports is an inexpensive way to prevent the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C in the first place.
Dalton says, “We are a constant for people. Someone may relapse and lose contact with their treatment program. But they come back here, and we help get them reconnected.” Safe Recovery has a good reputation among the recovery community, and Dalton notes that clients often come in saying, “Several people told me I should come here.”
It’s true, says Dalton, “We’ll welcome you. We’ll be supportive. Sometimes when you are really struggling it’s hard to function. You need someone to go the extra mile to help you get unstuck. We say to clients, let’s make that call now. Let’s go over this application together. Let’s do it right now. We’ll help you with what you need.”