County recovery assessment report now available

Steve Sharer was hired in May 2022 as program coordinator for the Jackson County Recovery Program.

Since then, he has been engaging the community to identify and fill gaps when it comes to substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services in the county.

During a recent Seymour Common Council meeting, Sharer provided copies of the Recovery in Jackson County Assessment Report and spent about 20 minutes discussing its contents.

He found many strengths in the community. There are dedicated people working in professional and volunteer capacities to assist and advance recovery efforts. The community of people living a life of recovery is strong and supportive, and they contribute to the community’s success despite the struggles they have.

Also, the county is growing to recognize the importance of harm reduction to prevent accidental death and offer people suffering with substance use disorder another chance at life, and there are strong partners working to make supplies available. Medication-assisted treatment and medications for opioid use disorder are available by more providers, too.

Plus, people are aware mental health availability needs to be increased locally, there is a strong willingness to improve work in recovery and prevention and the criminal justice system is willing to make changes to better meet the needs in the community.

There is still a lot of work to do, Sharer said, so the report also includes recommendations.

Utilizing faith-based organizations more in recovery efforts, bringing recovery (transitional) housing to the community, continuing the program coordinator position, developing a continuum of care model and implementing it based on known evidence-based models, developing a recovery awareness program and developing a prevention program are listed in the report.

Also, developing a communitywide resource list of available services that is fully vetted, accurate and up to date, working with other communities to share ideas and create alliances, examining current coalitions for effectiveness and duplication of services and working as a community to work for the common good for those in recovery.

“The report is not intended to be a final answer nor is it all-inclusive,” Sharer told the council. “In my opinion, it’s like the proverbial tip of the iceberg. This is kind of the starting point. The report is the need for the whole community of Jackson County, not just the city. It’s for the whole community and areas beyond.”

Expanding on the recommendations, Sharer said utilizing faith-based organizations in recovery efforts is important.

“We’re just shy of 100 churches within our county. That’s a tremendous resource that is being underutilized,” he said.

In terms of transitional housing, Sharer said that doesn’t exist here, but there have been several efforts to bring that here.

Also important is ensuring the list of community resources is updated and accessible for those in recovery.

“People in recovery really need access to a lot of resources, and they need to know where to find them and where to find them right when they need them. It’s a short window,” Sharer said.

Partnering with other communities is a good idea, too, he said.

“There are a lot of good ideas that come from other places, and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he said.

While there are coalitions in the county doing good work to help with recovery and prevention, Sharer said that needs to be structured to where they are efficient and work together.

“There’s a lot of communication that needs to take place between various organizations through various efforts, and it just goes a lot better working together as a whole rather than somewhat siloed,” he said.

“If I would spend the rest of my life doing one thing in this community, it would be putting together a broader-based prevention program and start with an assessment,” he said. “I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor. It will pay benefits to the next generation or two generations. It’s that important.”

The Jackson County Recovery Program was made possible by the efforts of Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson and the city in cooperation with Bartholomew County’s Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress. The program was funded through a $100,000 grant from the Family and Social Services Administration of Indiana, and ASAP served as a resource and consultant to help get a program started here.

Sharer held one of the part-time positions funded through the grant, and the other was held by Kimberly Glaze, the director of program development for the initiative.

ASAP developed a prevention and recovery system consisting of eight spokes on a hub with supporting resources and programs encircling the spokes. The report addresses each of those spokes as they relate to Jackson County, and the supporting resources and programs are addressed, too.

The spokes are prescribing practices, county health system, criminal justice system, county jail, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, recovery housing and recovery programs. Details on each are in the second section of the report.

The third section delves into the recommendations for the program moving forward, and then there are appendices with the definitions of recovery and substance use disorder and a brief history of substance use; medications for substance use disorder; National Alliance for Recovery Residences code of ethics; a recovery network diagram; and Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry.

Councilman Drew Storey asked Sharer about the plan for implementing the recommendations. Sharer said there are a couple of groups that could help with that, but nothing has been put in place.

“Like everything, there are a million options,” Nicholson said. “It’s just seeing who grabs ahold of which pieces, who will hold them responsible to grab them. It’s up in the air.”

Nicholson said the report will be shared electronically with all contributors, and it’s now available on the city’s website, He also said Sharer will give another presentation on the report during an event featuring the showing of the film “The Addict’s Wake” at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at Harmony Park in Seymour.

Anyone with questions may email Sharer at [email protected].