Drug recovery support center plan advances in Luzerne County

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
Ross -

Plans are advancing to create a community drug recovery support center in Luzerne County for adults with substance use disorder — the first of its kind here.

Support centers offer alcohol and drug-free recreation activities, connection to a network of people and entities willing to help them and access to certified recovery specialists who have maintained sobriety and can relate to their challenges.

Preventing relapse is the primary goal. Those in recovery are advised to avoid people and places that may trigger them to use, which can leave them socially isolated as they rebuild their lives in recovery, said county Drug and Alcohol Director Steve Ross.

“This will be a central place for people to gather to obtain support from peers. It’s going to be a real positive thing,” Ross said. “This is that one piece of the puzzle that’s going to give them the continued strength they need to maintain sobriety.”

Around $1 million has been earmarked to establish recovery centers in Luzerne and three other counties — Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wyoming, according to Ross and other officials.

The money will be provided through the nonprofit Northeast Behavioral Health Care Consortium.

Luzerne and the three other counties had teamed up to create the consortium more than a decade ago to jointly manage their mental health and drug treatment funding for low-income residents on Medical Assistance. The state agreed some of the savings they amassed through efficiencies could be used for new, in-demand services, such as recovery centers.

The consortium is seeking proposals from entities to operate a recovery center in Luzerne or Wyoming county. The county not selected this year will be receive a center in 2019, Ross said.

Proposals are due Feb. 27. The consortium had requested proposals in 2016 but did not have a sufficient response, Ross said. As a result, consortium representatives toured and researched centers in other areas to obtain more information on how they should be structured, he said.

“This time we have a lot more interest in it and a better understanding of what it will look like,” Ross said.

According to the request for proposals:

Funding will be provided to purchase and renovate a building or expand an existing structure.

The center will serve people 18 and older and their families and should be in a population center to maximize access to potential clients, volunteers and community partners.

Two certified recovery specialists will be stationed at the center along with volunteers in recovery.

To be chosen, center operators must demonstrate experience in the recovery field and their ability to implement and oversee the program, track outcomes and financially sustain the program after the consortium start-up funding ends.

Fundraising options may include recovery-related events, grants, partnerships with businesses and rental of space not used for the center.

The request says support centers have been shown to reduce the need for higher levels of treatment care.

“The entire behavioral health system is embracing the concept of recovery-oriented services, in which individuals are active participants in their recovery and peer-to-peer support is available and encouraged to support recovery efforts,” it says.

Proposals will be evaluated and selected through a competitive bid process.


By Jennifer Learn-Andes


Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.