The article describes the change that has transpired in the life of a person who has a dual diagnosis since she has begun her road to recovery. She now works a a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) in the agency where she once sought help herself.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 02:00
Former addict finds support on road to recovery
Yoland Smith, a former behavioral health consumer, is now a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) through the Recovery Transformation program and now helps others in the recovery process. — ABDUL R. SULAYMAN/TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER
Tribune Staff Writer
Yolanda Smith has come a long way.
After 31 years of abusing alcohol and drugs, the 47-year-old Kensington resident never thought that she would overcome her addictions. Two years ago, she decided that it was time to seek help and begin the road to recovery.
“I was no longer afraid to seek help,” says Smith who was also coping with bipolar disorder, a condition that she believes helped fuel her addictions.
She sought out the services of COMHAR Inc., a provider for the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation Services. Smith was able to turn her life around by participating in the agency’s recovery program. She credits the program with helping her to recover from substance abuse, boosting her self-esteem, becoming a better mother to her 22-year-old son and enabling her to receive college training. Today she serves as a certified peer specialist and facilitator at COMHAR where she helps other addicts to recover.
“Recovery is possible,” Smith affirms.
Smith was one of a group of speakers who shared their stories during a press conference held at the Philadelphia Recovery Community Center at 1701 W. Lehigh Avenue. The site is the first of several planned centers that will offers a range of services including counseling, support groups and education.
Behavioral Health Department officials held the event to highlight sweeping changes in the way that it provides services to those who are battling both addictions and mental illness. Under the initiative, the department is moving from just providing treatment to clients to focusing on helping them recover.
“Transformation is about how we are evolving our system to focus on people who have behavioral health problems and substance abuse disorders,” says DBHMRS Director Arthur Evans.
“Inherent in every community is the wisdom to solve its own problems. I think that is what is at the heart of the recovery transformation — that it is a movement that is built on the idea that ‘you can do it, we can help.’”
With that in mind, the recovery transformation initiative focuses on providing care to consumers that promotes long-care recovery, resiliency and self-determination.
Evans referred to the transformation as the most sweeping change in the field since thousands of mentally ill people were release from institutions during the 1970s deinstitutionalization wave.
One of the core aspects of recovery transformation is the certified peer specialist initiative. Through the program, current or former behavioral health consumers are trained and certified to become peer specialists. As of September 49 graduates of the certification training have been employed as peer specialists.
Through a network of community-based provides, DBHMRS provides a full range of mental health and substance abuse treatment for approximately 100,000 consumers annually.