RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Healing Transitions, a long-term, peer recovery group believes substance and alcohol abuse will be around long after the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of their programing was interrupted by the spread of the virus, it’s important for them to keep their services going so the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed with overdose patients.
“The need is there. We’re providing a service and people are getting hope,’ said Decorba White , found her sobriety with Healing Transitions. Now, she’s a staff member guiding others through detox.
When the pandemic began to spread, Healing Transitions was forced to close their detox program.
Executive director, Chris Budnick, said it’s “a very over-crowded congregate living homeless shelter with a recovery program and a detox attached.”
People who relied on the center’s free services were turned away.
“We’re not used to telling people no, we don’t ever tell people no. They call, we say come on. No matter what time of the day or night it is, you can come and we’re here for you,’ said White.
The organization finally found a temporary location. It now operates its detox program out of an adult day center.
It couldn’t come quick enough. Budnick said he once refused service to a man who then walked across the street and slept on the sidewalk.
“We found a 71-year-old man sleeping in our box truck because he couldn’t get services anywhere,” said Budnick.
After detox, participants usually move to Healing Transitions’ recovery program. They can’t happen now because of COVID-19 restrictions. Only those who were already in the program at the organization’s permanent campus can continue in the program.
“It’s a challenge for us to think about saying no to someone to our recovery program, knowing they might not get a second chance to seek help again,” Budnick said.
In the meantime, staff members are having to step up their involvement.
“We have to be right there beside them, helping them make the phone calls, giving them the resources to call,” White said.
There would typically be peer support during a participant’s time with Healing Transitions. That’s not happening either. Interactions are limited to staff. Making the role of alumni staff like White more important.
“Being someone who was in the position of needing help, if it’s not available, it’s heartbreaking,” White said.
White said so far, more than 150 people have gone through detox at the remote facility in the last seven weeks. Seven of those people were approved for an independent living program. Another two are now employed.
In 2019, the center provided 115,500 beds through their emergency housing program. They served mroe than 2,600 people in 2019. Healing Transitions said they help more than 300 people a day.