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‘A lot of times, even though people don't have family – the recovery itself creates family.’

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Rebecca Smith
Several community members and experts shared at the "Save a Life" event KBIA hosted at Douglass High School in October - including Pastor Charles Stephenson with Powerhouse Community Development, and Heather Harlan and Dave Zellmer with Columbia/Boone County Public Health & Human Services.

KBIA hosted an event at Douglass High School in October about opioid, overdoses and Narcan in our community. Narcan is the brand name for naloxone and is a lifesaving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

Pastor Charles Stephenson is the Executive Director of Powerhouse Community Development, which provides a variety of services for people with substance use disorders. He spoke a little about his organization and finding hope in recovery.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.

Pastor Charles Stephenson: The challenge for recovery – it’s a lot more difficult when you don’t have supportive loved ones and families, and so we have a social model. We try to engage ministries as a support group. We try to bring in mentors.

One of the things that's real prevalent now is peer support specialists, and so, those are people with lived experiences, and so, a lot of times, even though people don't have family, the recovery itself creates family – the people in addiction that's been through [it], and you begin to see those people began to work and support one another.

And I hate the term “recovery” because a lot of people that we working with has never seen normalcy. Ever since they were a little kid, they lived in drugs and alcohol infested neighborhood, you know, high crime is common to them.

So, it’s not about recovery, something, something – sometimes it's about habilitation instead of recovery, and so, one of the things that we do that we really work with, is we try to do more with social determinants. We want to deal with what your life has been like, what you experienced as a child.

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Rebecca Smith

We need to reframe that. We need to be able to hear your experiences and not tell you that you're not dealing with some of the things that you've dealt with in life. And that's one of the things that we really work at is habilitation. How can you expect someone to emulate a model they've never seen?

And so, we've got to teach them and redefine what “Fatherhood” is, and I tell them this – whatever, you know, lay it on the table. Empty yourself. Lay it on the table. If it's true, we'll pick it up on other side of the recovery.

I know Big Mama told you, but somethings Big Momma told you ain't true. So, dump it all because we got to habilitate, and we'll pick up on the [other]side. Because to some people, what was considered love was really abuse.

There are many pathways to recovery and Medication-assisted treatment is a very viable path, but what we've also found out is it – with therapy, you know, because some things that happen in your life, and you have to be able to talk about them.

The combination of those things is very, very important. Putting together a service plan, a step-by-step process. They need short goals so they can taste success.

Some people are more afraid of success or failure because they they've lived with failures and it’s common – they don't know how to feel when they haven't success and have that pink cloud.

So, we have to begin to work walk step by step, and so, it's a tedious journey. It's a long journey. We always say you've got to stay green and growing. You got to stay open, willing, and available in recovery. It’s when you think you know it all and have it all is when it becomes a dangerous thing.

Katie Quinn studies radio journalism and political science at the University of Missouri- Columbia. She comes from a small town outside of St. Louis called Fenton.