This article was originally published by Ohio Valley ReSource.
The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than two million dollars to expand addiction treatment and recovery resources for women in rural regions of the Ohio Valley hit hard by the opioid crisis.
Ohio University received $1,100,000 for the Appalachian Recovery Project in Athens County, Ohio. WestCare Kentucky, Inc., received $1,136,000 for the Judi Patton Center for Families project in Pikeville, Kentucky.
The funding comes from the ARC’s POWER Initiative, which was intended to boost economic development in regions affected by the decline of the coal industry.
The ARC found addiction recovery and economic recovery go hand-in-hand.
“There is clearly some correlation between economic distress and substance abuse,” ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas said. “So the commission though it appropriate that we use some of these resources from the POWER program to address this problem.”
Thomas was in Athens, Ohio, Wednesday to announces the grant as part of an update on the Appalachian Recovery Project.
The effort involves eight major collaborators working to turn the old Hocking Correctional
Facility in Nelsonville, Ohio, which closed last year, into a treatment facility able to help 300 women at a time.
Tracy Plouck, an executive in residence at Ohio University and lead for the grant proposal, said it will be a year before the renovations are complete.
The ARC grant funds will help jump-start the program and make services available to women in the community and in the justice system this fall.
“We’re bringing different kinds of resources from the community to bear into a single network so that we can more effectively assist women who are trying to connect with recovery,” Plouck said.
Those resources include residential addiction treatment, music and art therapy, job training, and health workers to help navigate the program.
The ARC grant will fund the renovation of a building in Pikeville, Kentucky, to house the Judi Patton Center for Families project.
The project is named after former First Lady of Kentucky and Pike County native Judi Patton. She is known for her work advocating women’s safety and child abuse prevention issues.
The facility will provide services through WestCare Kentucky to women seeking addiction treatment and their children.
“Patients will live with their children at the site while receiving treatment through professional, licensed, evidence-based, gender-specific programming for women,” according to a description of the program from the ARC. “Onsite therapeutic child care will provide a safe environment for children while their mothers obtain needed recovery services.”
The center plans to serve 300 patients each year and provide them with resources to sustain recovery and reenter the workforce.
Thomas says the ARC invests in projects like these because they believe solutions to the addiction crisis will be found when communities work together.
“We have to build a recovery ecosystem within the Appalachian region to help bring these people through recovery.”
The ARC has awarded over $148 million in POWER Initiative grants since its inception. An estimated $45 million will be made available via the POWER 2019 funding cycle.