One of the volunteers' jobs will be helping one another maintain their recovery.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- A program aimed at helping women conquer substance abuse is enlisting the help of successful graduates.
Family Recovery Center officials say they intend to form a mentoring and support group this summer among women who achieved sobriety through WomanFocus.
WomanFocus is the name of the recovery center's program aimed at women who abuse drugs or alcohol.
Nearly 1,600 women have participated in WomanFocus since its inception in the early 1990s, estimated Eloise Traina, director of the private, nonprofit recovery center.
Although not all participants achieve sobriety, about half have done so.
It's from among those women that the recovery center is hoping to find a group willing to help other women who are trying to recover, Traina said.
Volunteers will be asked to serve as mentors to women who will be staying at an apartment complex the recovery center is building in Lisbon for homeless women attempting to recover from alcohol and drug abuse.
The complex, to be known as Fleming House, is expected to be finished in early 2003.
Prospective mentors will undergo about two months of part-time training aimed at such topics as interviewing skills.
Their mentoring duties will consist largely of meeting with their charges to discuss their progress. Mentors also will be available by phone if the person they're helping needs someone to talk to, Traina explained.
Women who have conquered substance addiction themselves can be valuable allies to other women in the early stages of recovery, Traina said.
They have personal knowledge of that struggle that many mental health professionals can address only in a secondhand manner.
But helping the women at Fleming House won't be the only task to which the recovery center intends to assign its mentors.
The agency also wants them to develop a network to help themselves in the never-ending battle to maintain sobriety.
Traina pointed out that there's no such thing as a recovered substance abuser, only those who are engaged in the continual process of recovering.
The fight to stay off drugs or alcohol doesn't really end once sobriety is achieved. Many addicts spend the rest of their lives fighting the temptation to resume their former addiction, Traina noted.
Having available a support network of other women who are involved in that fight could keep someone from slipping back into addiction.
The recovery center's WomanFocus program is funded through a combination of sources, including state funds.
Women pay to participate in the substance abuse recovery program based on their income.
The effort combines group and individual therapy.
It also links women with programs and resources including classes on parenting skills and job hunting.