HERKIMER – Addiction is a disease that does not let go of its victims easily. Whether the struggle is against heroine, alcohol, methamphetamine or gambling, those trying to stay sober need support and assistance to succeed.
“We heard from members of the community who have struggled with addiction that there was not a lot to do around here after treatment,” said Melissa Snyder, director of prevention and recovery services at the new Rise Recovery Community Outreach Center in Herkimer. “We’re here to fill that void.”
Rise Recovery Community Outreach Center, located in the Herkimer Commons Mall on East Albany Street, opened its doors one month ago. It is a place where those working to remain sober can find support, friendship, assistance, a listening ear and a safe place to hang out away from substances and temptations, said Project Coordinator Jeff Petrie.
When someone completes a treatment program, or has made the decision to stop using drugs or alcohol, facing the same community, people and stressors that existed during substance abuse can serve as triggers and make recovery difficult, Petrie explained. Any new stressors, such as the loss of a job or the need for a new housing situation, can also be large stumbling blocks on the road to sobriety.
Rise RCOC helps members in any way it can, from setting individuals up with an employment office, assisting them in finding a new place to live or getting people signed up for various assistance programs, Petrie said. As a program of Catholic Charities of Herkimer County, Rise RCOC already has a good working relationship with many other state and county organizations.
“We’re here to help them meet their long-term recovery goals in any way we can,” Petrie said. “Once you walk through this door, we’re going to do everything we can to
Rise RCOC offers members training courses, informal counseling groups and various activities such as Friday night movie nights, therapy dog visits and men’s and women’s discussion group meetings, Snyder said. It also serves as a general recreation center with a pool table, fuse ball, ping pong table, giant-screen TV, crafting area, meditation room, game systems, books and board games.
As the holiday season gets underway, which can often prove a particularly stressful time to former addicts, more events are in the works.
“For example, the night before Thanksgiving is traditionally a big drinking night in the Valley,” Petrie explained. “We’re planning a sober event here for that night. The Superbowl is another one.”
Rise RCOC is not only for those in recovery, but also for their families. An Al-Anon group meets there Tuesday evenings, for family members affected by alcoholics.
As a new program in the area, the coordinators of Rise RCOC hope to see it expand and improve with time.
“We take the advice of those we serve in the community,” Snyder said. “We have a Vision Team that is half made up by our members. We’re a very peer-driven program.”
Anyone interested in becoming a member at Rise RCOC can stop by the center any time during its normal hours, Snyder said. No appointment is necessary. Membership does, however, require individuals to sign a statement of intended sobriety and the center’s expectations. Rise RCOC will not tolerate active substance abuse, Petrie said.
“We won’t kick them to the curb. We’ll do our best to get them back into treatment,” he said. “But they can’t hang out here under the influence.”
The center is open Monday through Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the Al-Anon group meeting Tuesdays 6 to 7 p.m., and Thursdays and Fridays 12:30 to 8 p.m. The center is only open for specific events on weekends.
As Rise RCOC is funded by a grant through the state Office of Addiction Services and Support, anyone interested in assisting Rise RCOC’s efforts can consider donating new or gently used books, board games and craft supplies, Snyder said.
For more information on the center, check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/risercoc.