Re-entering society is no easy feat for people recovering from substance abuse. Aside from the medical, mental health and legal considerations which often color this journey, people in recovery face challenges ranging from the corporeal, such as housing and employment, to the ethereal, or spirituality.
Among the many local agencies and programs designed to help people get in and stay in recovery is The Spirit of Recovery. And during September’s National Recovery Month, the program will be continuing its efforts to help substance-abuse recoverers to help themselves by offering several rehabilitation opportunities.
Retired Reverend Caddy Jackson, who created The Spirit of Recovery, said most people don’t realize how expensive the societal fallout from substance abuse is in terms of institutional resources to medical and mental health services, law enforcement, social services and so on.
“We would save every institution a significant amount of its resources … So many basic service calls are directly or indirectly a result of substance abuse. If we can cut substance abuse in half,” he explained, its effects could be cut in half. He went on to list effects such as drunk driving, homelessness, teen pregnancy, student discipline problems, domestic violence and families at risk. For example, “as a pastor, I found that substance abuse was a major factor in nearly every divorce that people came to me about … It’s a core issue” in many contemporary social ills, said Jackson.
The Spirit of Recovery started about six or seven years ago, said Jackson, to help United Methodist Church parishioners who had substance abuse issues. The church engaged a mother and daughter-in-law, congregation members who had experienced recovery, to participate in six Saturday-morning breakfast brainstorming forums about the dynamics of addiction and recovery. Church and community members met with members of local public institutions – Superior Court, Wild Iris, police and probation departments, Mental Health and others – “who where dealing with the effects of, or who had resources to deal with, the effects” of substance abuse.
The Spirit of Recovery services moved from a focus on church members to the general public when it began to operate under the United Methodist Social Services umbrella. In addition to concern for “the spiritual growth of all of those in our church family … within the wider community, the Spirit of Recovery has been actively involved in working with the Inyo County Drug Court to provide support and spiritual counsel to persons in recovery, including financial assistance for drug court costs and providing a sober living residential program,” states www.bishopumc.org .
Inyo County Superior Court Judge Dean Stout said, “The faith community has consistently provided strong support for the Drug Court Program and people in recovery. The Spirit of Recovery is an outstanding example. In addition to spiritual support, they have assisted Drug Court participants with housing and finding employment. In Drug Court lingo we would say that they have ‘walked their talk’ in terms of Christian outreach; opening their church doors to welcome, embrace and support people in recovery.”
Six years ago, The Spirit of Recovery’s Faith-Based Sober Living Project began providing housing in three trailers at Sierra Trailer Park, located at South Warren and Lagoon streets, said Jackson. People leaving jail and going into Inyo County Drug Court Program, he explained, are required to live in a sober environment; often their former living situation doesn’t fit that criteria. In an expeditious process, Faith-Based Sober Living Project applicants are interviewed by The Spirit of Recovery’s Cutting the Effects of Substance Abuse advisory board – a board comprised of people living successfully in recovery. Acceptance is contingent on that interview as well as vacancy and availability, said Jackson.
Though not directly affiliated with the Inyo County Drug Court Program, “we try to be very supportive of what (it) is trying to do,” said Jackson. “The Spirit of Recovery has even focused on developing a Drug Court Alumni Association” which endeavors to provide support and structure for people who have successfully completed the Drug Court Program, states the website.
Some of that support comes through The Spirit of Recovery’s Temporary Work Program. It started informally about six years ago, said Jackson, and within the last month or so become formalized with an application and employer evaluation form process. “The Temporary Work Program acts as a mediator,” said Jackson, between employers and persons in recovery, providing employment opportunities. The program helps substance-abuse recoverers learn and hone basic job-success skills through temporary work assignments: gardening, pond and other yard work; painting houses; helping people move and the like.
When jobs are completed, employers are asked to complete an evaluation form to indicate employers’ level of satisfaction, promoting accountability, he explained. These temporary jobs can add work experience, establish a record of positive feedback and become the start of a resume or enhance an existing one, explained Jackson.
While Jackson is able to provide spiritual direction to people recovering from substance abuse, plans are in play to expand the spiritual aspect of The Spirit of Recovery. “Down the road in the next six months to a year,” said Jackson, “we hope to have weekly worship services” for recovering addicts.
On the immediate horizon, Sunday, Sept. 9, after services, from 10:45-11:15 a.m., Spirit of Recovery will have a booth at the annual Opportunity Sunday at United Methodist Church located at 205 N. Fowler St. It is open to the public and Jackson said he hopes to promote community support for The Spirit of Recovery. “There are a wide variety of ways they can be supportive of people in recovery,” said Jackson, by providing employment opportunities or financial or transportation assistance, for example.
For more information about The Spirit of Recovery, call Reverend Caddy Jackson at (760) 920-3485.