Access to Recovery Program Surpasses Goal More Than a Year Early

Monday, July 10, 2006 | 07:00pm

Program Serves More in Two Years Than Initial Three-Year Goal

Nashville, July 11, 2006

The Tennessee Department of Health’s Access to Recovery (ATR) program, originally designed and funded to treat 8,250 patients in three years, has already treated more than 9,300 Tennesseans struggling with addiction, including nearly 1,000 persons receiving methamphetamine treatment as of May 2006. 

“The help of providers statewide has allowed ATR to reach more people than we ever anticipated, with the result of fewer Tennesseans struggling with addiction,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D.  

Administered by the Department of Health’s Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (BADAS), ATR is a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) federal discretionary grant that provides alcohol and drug treatment and recovery support services via local providers, including faith-based, secular, for-profit, not-for-profit and government organizations through vouchers. Tennessee was one of only 14 states awarded ATR funds out of 60 states, territories and tribal organizations. Because of ATR, Tennessee was able to provide recovery support services for the first time. 

“Our utmost gratitude is due to the many providers that have dedicated their services and expertise to easing the burden of addiction on Tennessee,” said BADAS Assistant Commissioner Stephanie Perry, M.D. “Without their collaboration, surpassing this goal would not have been possible.” 

Tennessee was awarded $5.9 million annually over three years, for a total award of $17.8 million. Service vouchers are provided for eligible consumers for treatment and recovery support services to assure consumer choice of provider.  

The Next Door, a faith-based provider located in Nashville, is one of the numerous programs across the state that has provided assistance to those struggling with addiction as a result of ATR. The program of transitional living, mentoring and life skills classes was designed to assist women recently released from prison with their physical, spiritual, emotional and daily living needs. Statistics show that approximately 60 percent of female ex-offenders in Middle Tennessee will return to prison within the first year of their release. The mission of The Next Door is to break that cycle. 

Tiwana Hemby is a resident of The Next Door who has received life-changing help through the services made possible by ATR. As a past abuser of alcohol and drugs, Tiwana spent years in the criminal justice system, but soon she will graduate from The Next Door. 

“Access To Recovery at The Next Door has equipped me to become a healthy, independent and productive citizen. I have learned who I am through the counseling offered, and I have set life goals of what I want to accomplish,” said Tiwana. “I am a different person now. I have learned to handle day-to-day tasks without the use of drugs and alcohol. I have been able to allow myself to feel positive and negative emotions in a safe place. I love myself today. After I graduate from The Next Door, I will move into my own apartment with the assistance of Access To Recovery. My future is bright.” 

To date, ATR has assisted 94 women at The Next Door. Program participants establish a life plan, receive a mentor and case manager, receive on-site job skills/computer/GED training, find employment and receive group counseling. Those in the program are also required to meet set expectations and responsibilities. Currently, 48 women are being served by this program.  

“Access to Recovery has been a catalyst for transformation in the lives of our residents.   It is awesome to watch a woman realize that there is hope from her past life of addiction,” said Linda Leathers, executive director of The Next Door. “She begins to look to the future with promise. Access to Recovery assists her to believe again that life can be different.”   

BADAS has drafted and submitted to SAMHSA for review and approval, a plan for the final year of the 3-year grant. Due to the early achievements of ATR, program providers will be held to spending caps, which will limit the number of vouchers and new individuals who will be able to access services. However, there are other programs offered through the Bureau for those needing assistance in overcoming addiction. For more information on services available through the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, call (615) 741-1921 or go to online.

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