CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – “It wasn’t until I found myself in the shower, aching, sweating, that I cried out to God because I want to die.” It’s a scenario that sounds like a bad dream to some, but was the reality for “John.” He prefers we call him by a different name. John’s nightmare is all too common in Appalachia as the region continues to battle the opioid crisis. “I didn’t want to feel like, waking up crying every morning ’cause I’m sick.” Addiction to pain medicine led John to use Suboxone, a medication intended to treat addiction, which because his new drug of choice to abuse. “I used that to get off everything else and it became my vise.”
The deadly tug of war between using and withdrawal put John on the losing team no matter what.
It was time to make a change. John began to detox and was successful at getting clean, but he admittedly wasn’t ready to be fully independent and maintain his newfound sobriety. He packed his bags and moved into Hope for Appalachia, a residential treatment program for men on Charleston’s West Side. “Our focus is going to be guys that have previously been through addiction, so there’s a lot of good groundwork that’s done at different addiction programs,” said Kyle Flanagan, a deacon at Randolph Street Baptist Church in Charleston. “Our goal is to try to help guys transition back into working jobs, dealing with just those pressures of life.” Flanagan said that in 2015, members of the church saw a need for those struggling with drug addiction. They wanted to provide support for men recovering, and thus, “Hope for Appalachia” was born.
Through the help of donations, the church was able to purchase the home on the West Side a year later. The house is now the site of Hope for Appalachia, a place John calls home. “We each care for each other and we don’t want to see each other go back down that path, because it’s hell I don’t want to see nobody go back down that path, cause I’ve been there.” said John.
Some residents are focusing on school, while others hold jobs. For John, an aspiring nurse, he says the biggest help has been his faith. He says he’s learning to live a “Christ-center life,” and trusting in God.
“We want to see these guys set goals of what they want to do, achieve those goals and be productive members of society that are living in a God honoring way,” said Flanagan. He says he believes in the residents and wants to see them live up to their full potential.
As for the program’s success rate, just over 20 people have called Hope for Appalachia home at some point. Flanagan says 5 men have moved out and successfully maintained sobriety. Residents make the decision to stay or leave, so the decision is solely up to the voluntary participant. While 5 may not seem like much, the program is still new and recovery takes time, dedication and support. “There is hope. You can ask any one of our guys here that have been through that same situation,” Says Flanagan. John echoes his words of support and hope as he continues the life long journey of staying clean and sober. “We care. Somebody does care for them and they’re not alone in their struggles.”
Flanagan emphasizes that Hope for Appalachia is completely operated through donations. Their next fundraiser will be a golf tournament on Monday, May 13th, at Sleepy Hollow Golf Course. All proceeds with go to benefit the Hope for Appalachia.