HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — People suffering from substance abuse disorder face many challenges. One of those challenges is access to transportation as they work on their recovery.
That’s why this week the Appalachian Regional Commission invested more than $215,000 dollars to the “Rideshare to Recovery” Pilot Program.
The hope is to improve access to treatment for people looking to change their lives.
“Transportation is something we all take for granted. So, until it’s something you don’t have, you take it for granted so much,” said Tricia Ball, Marketing Director at the Appalachian Transportation Institute.
Substance abuse disorder is an illness our area has been dealing with for quite some time.
While patients continue to stay on their path to recovery, they face issues hindering them from continuing treatment of entering the work force.
“It’s very hard to improve your life if you can’t get to the services that you need to improve your life,” said Michael Haney, director of PROACT.
With those challenges in mind, a new partnership between the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Appalachian Transportation Institute, Marshall Health, Lyft, and others, to launch the pilot program for “Rideshare to Recovery.”
The pilot program will select as many as 100 patients from PROACT at no cost.
Officials say they hope the program itself will be fully operational by the end of the year.
“People often want to get better, but it’s very difficult to make it on a regular basis to a doctor’s appointment even on the best of circumstances,” said Haney.
The program will offer better access to transportation for doctor appointments, group therapy, job interviews, and even work while patients learn to get back to a stable life.
“We want to make sure that this is effective, sustainable, and replicable,” said Ball. “we also want to make sure that we can implement this in other areas of the state and the Appalachian region.”
But the program aims to be more than just a tool for patients in recovery.
“They can get to their jobs, they can earn money, they can start to save to take care of their past obligations,” said Haney.
In short, patients will have the opportunity to become a part of the community again and impact economic development.
“The more money that they earn, the more they spend in, in our communities, the more it drives the economic engine,” said Haney.
Haney added that recovery is more than just treatment, it’s about changing one’s entire life.
The overall goal of “Rideshare to Recovery,” according to Ball, is increasing “access to substance abuse disorder treatment and recovery, and [reducing] transportation barriers to employment after recovery.”
Officials haven’t determined if “Rideshare to Recovery” will be free when it is officially launched, but they aim to take the burden off of the patient as much as possible.