MONMOUTH — Bridgeway Inc. has begun to take a different approach to local substance abuse services.
Bridgeway was one of eight entities that received pilot funding through the state, which led to the formation of the West Central Illinois Recovery Oriented System of Care Council, or a ROSC. That serves Knox, Warren, Henderson and Henry counties, while Bridgeway has services in Galesburg, Monmouth, Kewanee and Macomb.
Vicki Rose, director of substance use services for Bridgeway, and Whitney Pruett, system of care coordinator for Bridgeway, recently spoke to The Register-Mail about the new program.
“The purpose of the ROSC was really the state of Illinois recognizing that communities in our state have many individuals who are in recovery who need treatment who need to find that path, but that also they found (those people) in several different pathways,” Rose said.
“Not everybody finds recovery in the same way … the ROSC is really kind of a grassroots effort to get communities to recognize this need in their community and recognize what their strengths are.”
Rose further said, “… I’ve always said to my clients, we only do so much in treatment. Really, recovery happens outside of Bridgeway’s or any treatment center’s walls. And to have the support, the grassroots support from a community, can really help individuals in the long term and knowing that we’re decreasing that stigma.
“People are willing to talk about their problem and willing to reach out when they need that help, and that’s really the essential part of the ROSC.”
More than eight months into its existence, Bridgeway’s ROSC Council seeks to improve local recovery options.
ROSC is “a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that is person-centered and builds on the strengths and resilience of individuals, families, and communities to achieve abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life for those with or at risk of alcohol and drug problems in Knox, Warren, Henry and Henderson counties,” an informational flyer says.
This is happening as the Illinois Department of Human Services shifted its substance use prevention and recovery programming to “a chronic care approach (that) requires the entire system i.e., prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery management to embrace a recovery-oriented approach,” IDHS says on its website.
“Long term recovery from substance use disorders is dependent upon a continued connection to care and the delivery of services that are not only responsive to individuals’ use of alcohol and other drugs, but their co-occurring trauma effects, mental health, physical health and ongoing recovery related concerns as well.”
The local ROSC Council is the only one registered in the state for west-central Illinois and one of only eight statewide. The closest one is operated in McLean County by Chestnut Health Systems.
But the council isn’t just made up of Bridgeway workers. The ROSC has representation from Carl Sandburg College; Regional Office of Education 33 and its alternative school, Regional Alternative Education Services; as well as various police departments, school entities and other agencies, such as hospitals and the Knox County Health Department.
Bridgeway recently received its second year of funding from the state.
“ROSC is not a new concept,” Rose said, listing off Wisconsin, New York and Ohio as states that use them.
“We’re really coming in late to the game in really shifting our focus, so what we really want to see out of our local ROSC is to motivate individuals in the community who are perhaps in recovery and want to help, and want to be part of making our communities more friendly and being a resource for individuals that need it,” Rose said.
The push now as the program moves forward is getting people with lived experiences to be a part of the ROSC Council.
“We want community members who have experience, whether it be through a family member or themselves who are in recovery. We want to get them to the table because we really feel like recovery is a community-wide effort,” Rose said.
“Even though relapse is part of that recovery journey, if that person feels supported from their community, we think that can really have an impact on individuals finding that long-term recovery and stability in their lives.”
Part of what the ROSC aims to do are things that Daryl VandenBloomer raised recently in a series of letters from his jail cell. The Galesburg man received a federal prison term for transporting about 10 pounds of ice meth in Warren and Knox counties in late 2016.
“When you have people from your community who believe in you, along with other addicts, working together, that’s what works,” VandenBloomer said in a letter to The Register-Mail while incarcerated.
“Addiction is so much stronger than we are, no matter what it is your addicted to,” he wrote. “It’s not a simple cure. It takes a lifetime of sticking to your program, and help from other people and your higher powers are the most important. We don’t really fail until us as addicts and our community stops trying to help.”
VandenBloomer had been a Knox County Drug Court graduate before he slipped back.
“He had so much support around him during drug court, and then once he graduated, it just stopped, so that’s kind of the goal for the ROSC,” Pruett said.
“That people out there know that recovery is possible and that it happens in all sorts of different ways. We recognize that there are relapses, but just to find more services out there for people in recovery, so really wrapping around … (with) whatever treatment that they are in, however they are in active recovery.
“Just making sure there are more things out there so that they know the community is there for them.”
The local ROSC began meeting in November, but much of the first several months was administrative with setting goals and performing a needs assessment. Having someone with lived experience join ROSC will help identify gaps in service.
And while some stigmas, especially with mental health, have begun to be broken down, there still seems to be a stigma with those recovering from substance abuse.
“I think you’ll see over time that stigma reduce even further. I think about where we were in terms of mental health and stigma 10, 20 years ago. Completely different today,” Rose said.
“We’ve come a long way in supporting individuals who struggle with mental health and we need to do the same thing with those who struggle with substance use disorder.”
That could happen with more education about how the body changes through substance use, where a user’s brain has basically been hijacked, Rose said.
“They’re no longer taking the drug to feel the high or that pleasure, they’re taking the drug to stay alive,” Pruett said.
The ROSC meets the third Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. in the boardroom at Bridgeway’s Galesburg location, 2323 Windish Drive.
“We are really going to start hitting the road and implementing that strategic plan of family, support, transportation and prevention in all schools,” Pruett said.
Robert Connelly: (309) 343-7181, ext. 266; firstname.lastname@example.org; @RConnelly_