Recovery is Within Reach
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Recovery is Within Reach

Ralph Bennett does not shy away from his past or his present. Currently in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD), Bennett admits, “I was a big drinker for years. But there came a point when I realized that what I thought was helping me through my problems was actually contributing to them.” And so began his recovery journey.

Now, as the Emergency Department Supervisor for the Bennington Turning Point Center, Bennett works with other individuals looking to begin or continue navigating their path to recovery.

“What I know from personal experience is that everyone’s recovery is different. What works for one individual won’t necessarily work for another,” he says. “Which is why we aim to meet every individual exactly where they’re at and fin and approach that will move them towards their goals, whatever they might be.”

Julea Larsen, the organization’s executive director—and another individual in long-term recovery—notes there’s more to recovery than simply deciding not to drink. “A SUD isn’t a matter of choice or a character flaw. It’s a diagnosable ailment that can be treated with a medical plan. The key is determining which treatment approach is best for each individual.”

In addition to determining a treatment approach, Turning Point staff, which includes a team of recovery coaches, works to remove any obstacles to success. “Our recovery coaches provide emotional support and help individuals explore their feelings and motivations and guide them through treatment. Plus, they work with different agencies and organizations in the community to resolve issues related to everything from food and housing to medication and childcare, and so on,” says Larsen.

“Our aim is to reduce the number of hurdles of daily living so that the person can put their energy towards recovery. We work with them every day on every step, as long as needed, to get them where they want to be.”

In the same way that a lot of different factors can drive alcohol use disorder, there are a lot of different ways to treat it.

According to Todd Salvesvold, RN, MA, pictured left, with the Vermont Blueprint for Health, which designs community-led strategies for improving health and wellbeing, “Most people think there’s one way to treat alcohol abuse: detox, followed by rehab, and then a support program, like Alcoholics Anonymous. While that approach still works for many, there are other options.”

One of the most effective options Salvesvold has seen is medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and therapy. Offered locally through SaVida Health, he says “MATs, like naltrexone, diminish cravings and blunt the high from alcohol. The lack of cravings makes the withdrawal experience a bit more bearable and reduces the risk of relapse. Plus, MAT doesn’t require admission to an inpatient program.”

Salvesvold acknowledges that, depending on the scale of the disorder, some individuals may require medically observed detox or even rehab. “Fortunately, there are local options for that level of care, and MAT can be a part of the continued care plan.”

As Salvesvold notes, “There are a lot of paths to long-term sobriety, but the first step to all of them is recognizing you’re ready to try and raising your hand for help.”

If you or a loved one are ready to take the first step toward healthier living, the following organizations can help.

The Turning Point Center
Bennington, VT

SaVida Health
Bennington, VT

United Counseling Service
Bennington, VT

The Brien Center
Williamstown, MA


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