A nonprofit organization based in Greeneville, Tennessee that serves multiple counties will now connect individuals to addiction recovery resources.
The founders of the nonprofit, a Safe Harbor Home Inc., designed the Phoenix Project this year to serve people recovering from substance use disorders. The volunteer-run organization was originally established in 2008 to provide temporary housing to individuals experiencing domestic abuse and homeless people with disabilities.
The CEOs stated that the purpose of expanding their services was to provide hope to those who suffer from substance use disorders.
In order to qualify for the program, individuals must first complete an application, interview with a representative and be sober for a minimum of 28 days. While people in addiction recovery will be required to pay monthly rent and other fees — including a $150 abstinence deposit, which is refundable upon completion of the program — the organization has options to accommodate those who are in low-income circumstances.
Each of the project’s two houses can accommodate up to six men and women who can stay in the program for up to six months. Participants are required to perform household chores and other tasks.
However, the participants who do not adhere to the guidelines or fail a drug test will be asked to leave.
Representatives partner with local organizations to connect individuals to addiction recovery and other services, including continuing education courses, holistic support, counseling and long-term aftercare.
A Safe Harbor Home also offers programs that help young adults who were part of the foster care system find housing and inform students about abusive relationships.
Tennessee has been greatly affected by the country’s opioid crisis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tennessee ranked as the third highest state in the nation — behind Arkansas and Alabama — for opioid prescription rates in 2016.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 1,268 of the state’s 1,776 drug overdose deaths involved opioids in 2017. Approximately half of the opioid-related deaths were from prescription abuse — representing the largest group of drugs associated with overdose fatalities. In addition, the department reported that more than 6.8 million opioid painkillers were prescribed that year.
A 2018 Tennessee Controlled Substances Monitoring Database report noted that the number of opioid prescriptions decreased 14 percent between 2015 and 2017. The prominence of doctor shopping also declined from 2011 to 2017.
Earlier this year, Gov. Bill Haslam announced the ‘Tennessee Together’ initiative. Approximately $30 million of the state’s 2018-2019 budget was directed to the plan in order to improve drug abuse prevention, addiction treatment and law enforcement efforts in the state.
Some of the initiative’s proposed plans focus on promoting outreach for women with substance use disorders in order to reduce the chances of newborn babies being diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome; staffing additional peer recovery specialists in emergency departments; and providing naloxone for law enforcement officers.