BUCKHANNON — West Virginia’s U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and Senator Angus King from Maine recently launched a bipartisan resolution to formally recognize September as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.” This resolution comes as the result of increased isolation and anxiety levels among Americans, initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Capito explained, “As addiction continues to devastate communities and families throughout West Virginia, we must raise awareness of the available treatment and recovery measures. In West Virginia—and many communities across this nation—we continue to face the drug crisis on top of the additional challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic. By introducing the National Recovery Month resolution, I am hopeful that more people will become educated about treatment options. This is a critical component of the spectrum of solutions needed to save lives and fight back against the scourge of addiction.”
“Recovery is more than just getting sober or staying clean from drugs and alcohol – it’s a lifestyle,” explained Doug Spears, local Director of the non-profit 180 Center, Inc. and Ministry Leader at Celebrate Recovery. The 180 Center currently has two sober living homes in Buckhannon, the Lazarus House and the Damascus House. “Being clean is one thing, but living in recovery is another. In recovery, you’re using the tools of recovery, like sponsors and accountability partners and going to meetings – and you have some joy in your life from doing it,” Spears elaborated.
Although National Recovery Month is specially geared towards alcohol and drug abuse, people can be in recovery from a multitude of other issues. In Spears experience, people can also be recovering from mental health issues, gambling, eating disorders, spending money, sexual addictions like pornography, and many others. “People can be recovering from anything that has gotten their life out of spiral and making it unmanageable,” he explained.
Bringing awareness to recovery is key, according to Spears. “A lot more people are aware now than they were even five years ago. It is an epidemic that is hitting everyone. It is killing people, regardless of their class and demographics.” Spears also believes that prison is not the answer for recovery. “If that would cure addiction, then we could just lock up all the addicts for a while.” Instead, Spears encourages abstinence. “This is a community problem, and it is going to take the entire community to combat it,” he expressed. “And bringing awareness, allows people to be aware, regardless of the circle they run.”
“Meth and heroin dealers didn’t close down when COVID hit, but meetings did,” Spears explained. At the beginning of the pandemic, recovery meetings had to be held virtually. Fortunately, at The Living Word Church of God, located at 16 Thurman Ave., in-person meetings have resumed for Celebrate Recovery and NA meetings. Celebrate Recovery meets on Tuesday nights at 6:30 p.m. and NA meetings are held on Monday and Friday at 7 p.m. To Spear’s knowledge, these are the only meetings open to the public right now.
Senator Capito has reportedly made combating the opioid crisis one of her top priorities, both before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and since its initial spread across the country. “Since the pandemic has separated Americans from their loved ones and made it more difficult to access resources, Senator Capito has worked to connect with West Virginians virtually and raise awareness about resources available for support. To encourage additional supports, she directed a bipartisan letter last week to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) urging them to keep the opioid epidemic a priority in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also voted in support for the Patients and Communities Act in 2018, sweeping opioid legislation which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and included several provisions Senator Capito introduced or led as a co-sponsor.
“There’s help out there” Spears stated. Call him at (304) 619-7537 if you or someone you know needs help with recovery. You may also reach out to the United Summit Center, or HELP4WV, which claims they will get someone into a facility within 24 hours.