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Addiction In The Triangle: Up Close And Personal

By Samantha Poole | July 13, 2018 | Careers & Culture, Employee Spotlights

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You may not know where the Healing Transitions women’s campus is if you weren’t looking for it.

Located near Umstead Park in Raleigh, it’s easy to miss. But for so many in the Triangle, it serves as a safe haven.

Ten Blue Cross NCers recently visited Healing Transitions to get a full tour of the women’s campus and as volunteers to paint bedrooms.

Healing Transitions is a homeless shelter with a peer-run recovery program. Equipped with a detox center, Healing Transitions provides a caring and supportive environment where those suffering from substance abuse can safely detox and begin recovery with a 4-step program.

Blue Cross NC employees want to serve and they want to learn more. More than 50 people put themselves on a waitlist to volunteer. 

During the tour, volunteers met a special woman, Shannon.

Shannon’s story

Shannon has been living at Healing Transitions for the past 22 months through a long and, at times, difficult journey to recovery.

“Before I got here, I didn’t know anything about addiction as a disease,” she said. “I thought addiction was a moral issue, that I was a bad person.”

Participants leave notes about what they like most about themselves while going through recovery.

As alone as she felt in her addiction, once arriving at Healing Transitions, she knew there were others like her. “What got me and these women here might be different, but the pain we share through our addiction is very much the same. We have a strong sisterhood bond here.”

For those going through recovery, it can take several attempts. Shannon had a few setbacks during her journey but says Healing Transitions never turned her away, and at no cost to her.

Because at Healing Transitions, Shannon and her fellow participants receive everything they need: food, shelter, and clothing – for free.  “I have no bills. All I have to focus on is how to change me. I’m learning how to live and how to be that functioning member of society.”Participants in the program also receive basic medical care from doctors who volunteer their time twice a week for routine exams.

Healing Transitions has a partnership with Alliance Behavioral Health to help during medical hours.

There’s also an onsite case manager who helps with family reunification throughout the program. Family support is a large component of the program and is echoed throughout the four steps.

Shannon has learned real-life skills through the program. Because of the peer-run nature of the center, all participants have jobs: cleaning, cooking, planning and more.

“I had never worked before,” she said. “I was not used to a 14 hour day on my feet. There were a lot of things that I had never learned how to do: cook, prep food, or wash dishes even. That was all new and scary.”

She’s been sober for eight months – since October 29, 2017.

“I’ve been able to finally accomplish eight months of sobriety because this place never gave up on me, and if it had, I don’t think I would be alive.”

Once Shannon graduates from the program, she aspires to work as a detox monitor at Healing Transitions. She wants to sponsor women going through addiction recovery. “My experiences and my struggles were not for nothing, they now have a purpose now help others.”

Thomas Hogshead, Volunteer Coordinator & Development Associate at Healing Transitions, is nearing 10 years in sustained recovery and has dedicated his career to the place that has changed his life.  

“The beauty of Healing Transitions is the fact that it’s a peer-run program. Those seeking recovery are able to interact with new, current and former participants,” he said.

“Support from the outside recovery community provides a foundation for individuals to flourish and grow while embarking on a remarkable journey,” said Thomas.

Over 70 percent of those who graduate the program are still in recovery one year later. 

Thomas says the increase in demand for recovery services has skyrocketed with the national opioid epidemic. 

“We do whatever it takes, even if that means using mats on the floor to accommodate all those needing services.” They do not turn anyone away. Although the program is free to participants, everything comes with a price tag.

It costs an estimated $37 per person per day to keep the lights on at both the women’s and men’s center. Financial contributions are key to the success of the program. Part of Thomas’ role is working closely with the Development Coordinator completing grant requests seeking funding from private and public sectors.

“Upon completion of the peer-run recovery program, participants are able to return as productive members of society having access to all the services they need,” said Thomas.

Thomas said that participants especially enjoy when members of the outside community support their efforts through volunteer engagements or visiting the campuses for meetings or meals. “People just want to feel valued and know that others care about them. Having a profound sense of hope is key to this organization.”

Thank you to the ten Blue Cross NC volunteers who opened themselves up to learn more about a powerful issue in our state.