Tag: ATR

These Recovery Programs are Saving Lives in Innovative Ways

State-Funded Recovery Services That Actually Make a Difference!

federal programs to help addicts and alcoholics

I was compelled to sit down and start writing after stumbling upon a recent Huffington Post article about a Boston man named Dajaun Alexander.

The fifty-two year old recovering alcoholic is getting a second chance at life thanks to a Boston program called Community Servings and a national program called Access to Recovery (or ATR for short).

Have you heard of Access to Recovery? Probably not – it doesn’t seem like many people have. That doesn’t change the fact that this $100 million initiative is saving lives like nothing else.

Started in 2003, ATR is a voucher program that helps low-income men and women in recovery. It’s active in eleven states and helps fund both primary treatment and tertiary recovery services like Alexander’s job training.

It’s also coming to an end.

Congress has stated it’s not going to refund the program once its current reserves are dry. That’s a shame.

We’ll touch on what can be done to preserve Access to Recovery below, but let’s start with some inspiring stuff. Let’s look at the good this program has done in Massachusetts and across the country!

Speaking of Massachusetts – did you know there’s a town that offers addicts treatment instead of jail?

Access to Recovery

Access to Recovery operates different in each state that’s adopted it. This is due to its open-ended nature.

At its most basic level, ATR is implemented through states applying for an ATR grant through SAMHSA. Once these grants are awarded, the states that receive them are free to do what they want.

Certain conditions do apply. For example, only 15% of a grant may be put towards administrative expenses. This ensures the majority of all awarded money is used for vouchers and goes directly to help those who need it most.

Regardless of whichever particular state receives an ATR grant, most use it for vouchers for necessities: clothing (including interview suits), cellphones, food stamps, educational needs (GEDs, etc.), and basic checking accounts.

In Massachusetts, ATR funds are most commonly used to train individuals to work in food services, construction, computer technology, hospitality, and commercial cleaning. Funds are also allocated for work-study programs and a small personal voucher for each individual receiving assistance.

In Michigan, Access to Recovery money is only used to help American Indians receive treatment and only funds treatment centers that employ tribal healing methods.

In Illinois, Access to Recovery funds are mainly focused on helping adolescents caught in legal trouble. It’s the same in Ohio, while North Carolina’s grants go towards helping college students struggling with substance abuse.

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What Comes After ATR is Over?

It’s plain to see that Access to Recovery does a lot of good, so why is it being shut down? Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer to that question.

What we can do, however, is offer some practical tips for helping low-income individuals in recovery!

First, states, counties, cities, and even specific facilities should set aside money for the “recovery support” services mentioned above (employment training, affordable housing, etc.).

Think about it like this – what good is going to treatment if someone is placed back into the same negative environment afterwards? How will they be able to implement the skills they learned if they’re unemployed and unemployable?

Setting aside a small portion of revenue – if you’re a behavioral health facility – or a small portion of taxpayer funds – if you’re a government agency – can add up and lead to these recovery services being easily available.

recovery support services

Next, everyone involved in the substance abuse and recovery fields should rally behind causes like Access to Recovery!

Imagine if local and national politicians started receiving large amounts of letters and calls demanding that chemical dependency recovery be supplemented to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Many taxpayers probably wouldn’t like this, but a significant amount would. After all, addiction affects around 20 million people directly – and hundreds of millions indirectly.

Finally, and this is the most actionable of all the suggestions, we can affect change on an incredibly personal level. If you know someone in early-recovery, someone who’s doing everything right but still struggling financially, help them out.

I’m not saying that we should all go out and start handing money to recovering addicts and alcoholics. Still, those who are working their butts off and could use some help – well, they deserve some help.

I’m also not saying all we should do is offer people in early-recovery money. Instead, think about your particular strengths.

If you’re a great interviewer – offer to help someone in early-sobriety with their interview skills. If you’re a treatment facility with a free group room once a week – let an AA or NA group meet there rent-free.

These personal and individualized contributions to the recovery community go a long way. They’re the kind that helped Dajaun Alexander to get back on his feet. They’re the kind that help out more than we could ever know.

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