By Kelly Kass
As opioid addiction continues to rise in Suffolk County and around the country, staff at Family & Children’s Association (FCA) are working together to combat this growing epidemic.
With the support of agency partners Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD), Families in Support of Treatment (F.I.S.T.) and the Long Island Recovery Association (LIRA), FCA opened Long Island’s first recovery community and outreach center in March 2017. Located in Hauppauge, the center is named “THRIVE” to represent the Transformation, Healing, Recovery, Inspiration, Validation and Empowerment the program seeks for its participants.
“When it comes to prescription drugs and heroin, Long Island is in the middle of a crisis,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, president and CEO of FCA. “THRIVE provides a place where people can gather in a safe and sober environment that strengthens their recovery.”
Funding for the program is made possible through the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). With the opening of its recovery center, THRIVE is helping to fill a vital gap in the community.
“While there’s been a big push for prevention and treatment of addiction, we found that recovery services were lacking in the region,” said Lisa Ganz, program director of THRIVE. “What happens after someone is discharged from a rehabilitation facility? By providing a hub for people to connect, those struggling with addiction can tackle challenges together and receive the support they need to return to a healthier, happier life.”
The Center is comprised of offices, classrooms and a vast common area used for public education and social events. Peer-run support groups, navigation assistance, skill-building workshops, referral services and vocational readiness programs are among the many services provided.
“We maintain an open door policy with a focus on mind, body, spirit so participants can achieve a sense of community and be able to experience recovery as they define it,” Ganz said.
Unlike twelve step programs, THRIVE is not anonymous, although people’s privacy is still protected. The involvement of loved ones is particularly essential, as family workshops and co-dependency support groups continue to see large turnouts each month. “Addiction is a family disease,” said Fran Monaco, family services coordinator of FCA. “If loved ones are not on board with a recovery plan of their own, it can prolong the chemical dependency and enable a person to keep using.”
Many of THRIVE’s 700 participants attend social events offering substance-free recreational activities. Voices of Empowerment, held monthly, provides opportunities for self-expression through poetry, music and storytelling. Other activities at the Center include meditation workshops, drum circles and yoga classes. Program participants also have the option of working out in a small gym located on the premises; those seeking a quieter space may grab a book and head to THRIVE’s reading corner.
Services and activities are made possible through the help of 25 volunteers who generously donate their time to make sure people have the tools they need to thrive. The collaboration between staff and volunteers has forged a positive path for hundreds of Long Islanders living with chemical dependency.
Antonio V. is both a THRIVE volunteer and participant, grateful for a place to share his experience and knowledge with others. “This community center is a cutting edge model of what integration into recovery truly looks like, helping others find peace and common ground as they learn the necessary practices to fully become a contributing member of one’s community.”
For program participant Cait O., THRIVE is her home away from home.
“I’ve met so many people I love who unconditionally love me back,” she said. “My recovery has expanded so much since being able to be a part of this community, and every day I’m grateful for being able to give back to it.”
For more information on THRIVE’s services or to become a volunteer, visit www.thriveli.org.