Community Partners Address Opiate Crisis in Richland County

THE RICHLAND COUNTY OPIATE BOARD is a unique broad-based collaboration of people from the treatment, enforcement, and judicial professions. It was formed to develop a proactive response to the Opiate Crisis in Richland County by people who are committed to the reduction of the fatal consequences of opiate abuse through education, response teams, and assistance in finding treatment.  Elaine Surber, Executive Vice President & Director of Substance Use Services at Catalyst Life Services is a member of this board that meets monthly.

The Opiate Response Team:

The Opiate Response Team (ORT) is comprised of a Law Enforcement Officer, a Treatment Professional, and an Addiction Advocate. The typical practice of the ORT will be to gather twice a week to gather all overdose data and coordinate a response to those who have overdosed. Catalyst has many treatment professionals and advocates that are a part of this team.

The ORT will arrive in a marked vehicle and will respect the wishes of the residents; if they do not wish to participate in the visit the ORT will offer to leave information.

If they are permitted to enter the home, the team will discuss the benefits of treatment and attempt to assist them with securing an attainable appointment.

Q&A with Chief Keith Porch, Mansfield Police Department:

What is the role of the police department in the opiate review board?

The role of law enforcement is to be part of the education and prevention process.

Why do you think it is important to have a review board like this?

It brings all agencies to the table who are combating the opiate issue to discuss and develop innovative proactive responses to the population of Richland County along with having a better understanding of the opiate problem through comprehensive information sharing between members of the board.

Have you seen any positive changes since the start of this board?

Through the use of the Quick Response Team which was a proactive initiative, we have noticed a large percentage of persons contacted seeking services for their addiction.

Is there anything personal you would like to add about recovery or this community collaboration?

Richland County’s opiate review board is very unique as it relates to other boards in the State. Our board is comprised of 7 different law enforcement agencies making sure no matter where you live in Richland County resources are available to help the individual overcome addiction.

Q&A with Joseph Trolian, Executive Director of Richland County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board:

What role does the Richland County Mental Health Board play as a member of the Richland County Opiate Board?

We were one of the early planners as the Board was developing. In ORC 340 Boards are required to the be the Opiate Hub of the County, this board meets that requirement. We have used this as a mechanism for planning, implementation and evaluation of various approaches to the Opiate and other drug concerns in Richland County. We have hosted the meeting in our Conference room (Pre-COVID) and now via our GoTo Meeting site. We provide statistic for the Opiate Response Teams and work to coordinate outcomes for Immunities give through the Prosecutors Office.

What successes have come from the Richland County Opiate Board?

One of the most noticeable success has been the Opiate Response Teams. This is a group that is staffed by 5 separate agencies (Catalyst Life Services, Family Life Counseling, Mansfield UMADAOP, Healing Hearts Counseling and Third Street Family Health Services), 4 separate advocacy groups (Fusion Church, Starfish Project, Project One and RU Recovery Ministries), and 3 Law Enforcement Organization (Mansfield Police Department, Shelby Police Department and Richland County Sheriff) with standing teams and a “As Need” schedule with Ontario, Lexington, Belville, Butler and Plymouth. A three person team made up of and agency, advocate and Law Enforcement Officer visit individual’s homes who have overdoses and provide information and encouragement to get help and begin their road to recovery. The teams began running in March of 2017. To date we have reached out nearly 450 individuals. When the team makes contact with a person (could be the individual who overdosed, a family member or a friend) we have seen well over 70% enter treatment.

Another great, but less visible, success is just the collaborations that have been developed as a result of the establishing the Opiate Review Board. We began meeting in August of 2016 on a monthly basis and have continued meeting monthly with few exceptions for the past 4 years. The meeting is one of the most well attended and active that I participate in and I participate in a lot of meetings.

How can this board help an individual struggling with substance use?

We have established a website: where we have a lot of materials that people can access, they can see the latest statistics, find contacts for agencies and advocacy groups and a calendar of events. Kym Lamb and Julie Chaya and Jay Miller with DRM have done a great job of keeping our media presence active.

What is unique about this review board?

As I mentioned earlier, I participate in a lot of meetings. Many groups that have been meeting for 4 years get to the point of meeting just to meet. That is not the case with this group. We always seem to have a new iron in the fire and focusing on an improvement or an enhancement for Richland County.

Is there anything you would personally like to add about recovery?

Recovery is absolutely possible and accessible in this community. We also realize that treatment is process and you may need to try a few different approaches to find the best fit. We can help, we want to help. We will hold the door, but you have to walk through. I have spent my career in both treatment and administration and I believe that what we have established in Richland County is a system that is dynamic, expanding and ready to meet the needs of all Richland County Residents.

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training

CIT training refers to a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the mental health community to help law enforcement officers handle incidents involving persons suffering with mental illness. It focuses on the need for advanced training and specialization with patrol officers, immediacy of the crisis response, emphasis on officer and consumer safety, and proper referral for those in crisis.

This 40-hour training is comprised of many different speakers from different agencies. They teach first responders about brain illnesses, common symptoms and signs and deescalation strategies during a mental health crisis. Individuals taking the training are also made aware of all mental health resources in this and surrounding counties.

First responders also hear from a panel of individuals with lived experience as well as family members. Many of these individuals have had a police encounter of some sort due to their own or loved one’s mental illness. These perspectives help first responders to better understand mental illness and how to best access and act in certain crisis situations.

CIT has been shown to positively impact perceptions, decrease the need for higher levels of police intervention, decrease officer and consumer injuries, and re-direct those in crisis from the criminal justice system to the health care system. Although this training is offered country-wide, NAMI Richland County offers it twice a year through a collaboration with many local agencies and all local police departments.

Although there are many partners in the implementation of CIT, below you will hear from 3 partners including NAMI Richland County, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Catalyst Life Services.

NAMI Richland County

Q&A with Mary Kay Pierce,

Executive Director

NAMI Richland County

Q1: Why do you feel there is a need for CIT training?

  We know that CIT training helps divert persons with mental health concerns whenever possible to mental health services instead of the jail.  It educates the first responders with some new tools to deescalate a person in mental health crisis and connect them whenever possible to the mental health agencies in our community. It gives the first responders knowledge of all the resources available to offer to individuals and their families who are experiencing a crisis in mental health or addiction.

Q2: Have you seen a positive change since the implementation of this training?

Yes, I have seen many positive changes since the implementation of this training.

CIT has served as a springboard for a broader collaboration between criminal justice and mental health systems.  I have seen an increase in communication and collaboration between all systems.  Many more individuals are being taken to mental health agencies or the hospital to get the treatment they need.  First responders are also connecting the support persons of individuals in crisis to the help they need. 

Q3: What exactly is NAMI’s role in CIT?

NAMI Richland County plays a huge role in CIT in our community.  NAMI began this training with the support of the Richland County Mental Health Board and our NAMI Board in 2004. We believe that CIT is more than a training we do twice a year. It is about relationships between first responders, mental health agencies and individuals and families living with mental health concerns. We work daily in our office to foster those relationships.  We also meet with all the above three times a year to work on any concerns or needs of the community.  

NAMI is also responsible for many of the details of the training including finding instructors for all the curriculum and reaching out to all first responders who would like to take CIT.  We also work closely with our partners in the training which include Local Police Departments, Richland County Mental Health Board, Mansfield Playhouse, all the mental health agencies, first responders and individuals and families living with mental health concerns.

Q4: In a few sentences, how would you explain what CIT is and how it helps prepare first responders?

Crisis Intervention Team programs are local initiatives designed to improve the way law enforcement and the community respond to people experiencing mental health crisis. They are built on strong partnerships between law enforcement, mental health provider agencies and individuals and families affected by mental illness.  It helps first responders recognize when they may be dealing with a mental health concern and teaches them tools to deescalate a person and get them safely to medical care and not the jail.

Richland County Sheriff’s Department

Q&A with Captain Chris Blunk,

Jail Administrator

Richland County Sheriff’s Department

Q1: Why do you think that CIT training is important?

CIT training gives law enforcement the skills and ability to not only recognize but safely attempt to de-escalate situations involving an individual in a mental health crisis where they are called to intervene by family members, neighbors of the person, or another third party. CIT training has changed the attitudes and responses of officers to people who are experiencing these types of crisis, better preparing officers to serve the community and interact with individuals with mental illness. I believe this has resulted in fewer arrests of people with mental illness, an increased understanding of mental illness, and an increased awareness of what to look for in people who might be in crisis.

Q2: How have you seen CIT benefit first responders?

In my experience at the jail, I have seen my staff, and ultimately the community benefit from officers that are trained in CIT. One example is an arrestee was brought into the jail on a minor misdemeanor charge and this person was difficult to interact with or even gain the necessary information to assess their well-being. The CIT officer recognized that this person was mentally ill and used his training to gather the information needed to properly care for this person during intake and throughout incarceration. 

Q3: How would you explain the role of the Sheriff’s Department in a mental health crisis?

The Sheriff’s Office overall role in a mental health crisis is to engage, assess, and respond in a way that protects and serves the community. 

  • Engage- Law enforcement is usually the first to respond to a person in crisis and will ultimately engage the person in crisis.
  • Assess- Upon engaging the person in crisis, assess the situation to provide for the safety and security of that person and others involved or in close proximity. 
  • Respond- Decision making/recognizing mental health crisis/de-escalation techniques/get them necessary help/etc.         

Catalyst Life Services

Q&A with Erin Schaefer,

Executive Director

Catalyst Life Services

Q1: What is Catalyst’s role in CIT?

Catalyst assists NAMI and the RC Mental Health and recovery Services Board with training CIT officers and first responders on mental health issues and awareness.  We also provide information about how to connect people to treatment.  In addition, we sit on the CIT Advisory Committee to collaborate with police departments and community partners regarding how best to work together to serve the mentally ill in our county.

Q2: Why do you think CIT is needed? How has it helped?

CIT is definitely needed, as many of the most severely mentally ill are living in unstable conditions. Having first responders who are trained to understand signs and symptoms can prevent situations from escalating and from unnecessary uses of force or risk of harm to staff and people being helped.

Q3: Can you speak to any positive changes you have seen because of this training? 

I have seen officers who approach someone who is paranoid with a gentle, reassuring voice instead of yelling commands, which could further increase agitation and hallucinations. I have seen first responders befriend those who can be very suspicious and paranoid with kindness and caring, and this in turn leads to better ongoing working relationships on the streets. When in distress, the mentally ill seek police or first responders as someone who can help instead of “the enemy” who is there to hurt them. 

Q4: Can you speak to the collaboration of Catalyst and the police departments?

The police call into Helpline or contact me directly if there is someone in the community about whom they are concerned.  They let us know if someone is not rising to their level of risk of harm to self or others, but it is someone they think we should know about in order to try to engage that person in treatment or to check on that person if he/she is currently in treatment.  Likewise, we contact the police immediately if we have someone who needs immediate assistance because of concerns about that person’s safety.  We partner with the police frequently, and we could not do our jobs without them!  We are grateful for the collaboration.

CIT presenters teaching First Responders.
Local agencies, including Catalyst, attending the quarterly CIT Advisory Meeting
A police officer receiving his CIT certification.

Recovery & Suicide Awareness Month, Wk. 3

Did you know?

Richland County’s Drug Court began in 1996 and is one of the most established drug courts in the state of Ohio?

Catalyst Life Services partners with the court system as one of their treatment providers.

Click the image above to read how the Richland County Court Systems support recovery. You can also read about the partnership between Catalyst Life Services and the local court system to help individuals who struggle with mental health and substance use concerns. 

Agents of Change: Virtual Recovery Run

Recovery Run Update!

We are half way through our Recovery Run and we are excited to announce our progress! We are about half way to our goal!

Goal: $2,500

Current Amount Raised:

2 Pages:

1. View Mansfield Misfits here
2. View Recovery is Beautiful here

3 Teams:

1. Mansfield Misfits
2. Mid Ohio AFL-CIO
3. Bricklayers Local #40: The Brickies

Click here to learn more and register!

Click the image above to hear from Olivia as she talks about being a Peer Recovery Supporter and what was important for her on her road to recovery.

Q1: How long have you worked at Catalyst Life Services and what do you do there?

I began working at the agency in March 2015. My current title is the, Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Supervisor and Supervisor of Peer Support Services. I co-facilitate the intensive outpatient group (IOP) and am also the Mansfield Municipal Court Liaison among other things. 

Q2: Can you explain what the SUD Outpatient Services are?

They are the treatment services clients engage in for their substance use disorder. Clients can receive services in a variety of ways. Clients can engage in substance use disorder treatment through a group setting or individual sessions. Some clients engage in both. A client’s treatment or level of care is determined by their assessment and the ASAM, both provide medical necessity for the treatment recommended.

Q3: What do you like most about your job?

Many clients initially coming into treatment have minimal hope and low self-esteem. They feel lost and like recovery is not a realistic option for them. I like being able to establish and continue building connection and trust with clients.

Q4: Why are you passionate about Recovery Services?

I believe people do recover; not everyone has that belief. Individuals need to be able to work with professionals without judgment or stigma, who can help motivate them and help clients to see they are resilient and capable of achieving sobriety. Richland is fortunate to have the support of the Richland County Mental Health and Recovery services board. Not every county has the addiction resources this area has.  

Q5: What do you think stops people from getting the services they need for addiction?

Being anxious about the process and not knowing what to expect. Recovery is not easy. Often time’s individuals have used substances so long, it is what they are familiar with. Stopping the use of a substance is only the beginning of the process. Sobriety opens the individual up to being vulnerable and having to address trauma, shame, and guilt.

Q6: In your opinion, what is recovery?

The desire and willingness to have personal growth; emotionally, mentally, and physically. Finding acceptance of your past and moving forward. 

Q7: What would you say to someone who is struggling right now and does not know where to go or may have lost hope?

We all have or will struggle with various issues at some point in life. We can find strength in the support of others and through positive connection. Individuals do not recover alone so reaching out and getting connected to services in the first step in finding hope again.

Suicide Prevention Awareness

We support the mission of 33 Forever, Inc. and were honored to sponsor a hole at the 2nd annual golf outing. Congratulations on such a successful fundraising event!
To learn more about the success of this event click the image above!

NAMI Richland County is one of our community partners!

Click here to read NAMI Richland County’s Newsletter! You can learn suicide warning signs, resources and self care techniques. 

Q1: What is your role at Catalyst and how long have you been here?

 I am a therapist in the AoD department. I run the Recovery Management groups, do assessments for the walk-in clinic, and individual counseling. I have been here at Catalyst for 2 years. 

Q2: Why do you have a passion for your profession?

I have had the wonderful opportunity to see people work through some incredibly difficult things and I always find that to be inspiring. I am thankful that people trust me enough to allow me to accompany them on part of their journey.

Q3: What is something you think the ‘typical’ person might not know about recovery services?

It is a journey with ups and downs and that someone is never starting back at “zero” even after a relapse because they always have the things they have learned they just need to focus on using those skills more effectively. There are times when a client with some clean time will be nervous about admitting that they are struggling with urges and cravings and in reality that is exactly the thing that is important to talk about. Honesty is a huge part of recovery so we should not shame people when they are being honest. Aside from that it is important to remember there is no magic quick fix, it is the daily grind of doing the next right thing that gets and keeps people sober. It is important that the family and loved ones of those struggling with addiction seek out support and help themselves and  do not try to carry that burden on their own.

Q4: What does the word ‘recovery’ mean to you?

Recovery to me is a process that takes time and patience but the word itself more than anything else to me means Hope.

Richland County Court Systems Support Recovery

Below you will learn about the different courts and hear from some of the judges and probation officers that help impact the lives of many through these important programs.


Richland County Court of Common Pleas: Felony Drug Court

Drug Court provides non-violent offenders whose criminal behavior arises from addiction with intensive supervision and proven substance abuse treatment programs to help them overcome their addiction. Drug Court protects the public, saves taxpayer dollars when compared to incarceration, and reduces recidivism rates. Drug court participants may enter the program as a diversion in lieu of conviction, while on probation after conviction, or as re-entry into the community following incarceration. The intervention program lasts a minimum of 18 months during which time participants receive intensive supervision from the Richland County Adult Probation Department and the Adult Parole Authority.

Interview with Judge Robinson:

“Drug Court is important because it gives low level felony substance abuse offenders the opportunity to overcome their substance abuse issues to become employed,  to learn how to maintain their sobriety and finally, how to become productive, happy and healthy citizens of this community.  Another important benefit of Drug Court is if the offenders are able to successfully complete the Drug Court program and graduate, their criminal case will be dismissed and the arrest record is sealed. This leaves the graduate free of a felony record.  Also, Drug Court graduates are much less likely to be arrested on new criminal charges then non-graduates.  Finally, Drug Court is important because it reduces overdoses and saves lives.

Drug Court graduation is one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever had as a Judge.  To see a person who once was down and out and struggling with life then, with hard work and dedication over time, they overcome those challenges to become a respectable, responsible and sober person is wonderful.

To see the graduate happy, healthy, and confident brings happiness to me.  To hear the graduate express excitement about their future plans and goals is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever been a part of.” – Judge Robinson


Interview with JJ Bittinger, Chief Probation Officer:

“I have been involved in the Criminal Justice field for over 26 years. During that time I have been involved in uniformed law enforcement, specialty teams on both a state and federal level and for the last 18 years, as a probation officer for the Richland County Court Services. I have found that during my time rising through the ranks in the probation department to my current position as Chief that this part of the criminal justice system allows you the closest, hands on, participation in the changing of someone’s life. I have been through the “lock ’em up” phases and now into the more hands-on “behavioral changes” phase of community corrections. A person has to have a passion for this type of work because it does not come easy. You watch an offender try to change their lives over and over, with no success because they have not totally invested into the changes that need to be made. And rather than give up on these individuals, you continue to work with them, hoping that someday the changes take hold and they truly turn their lives around. When this happens, that is the reward for all of your hard work and dedication to helping others. 

I feel that the treatment and recovery part of changing an offender’s outcome is one of the most important parts of their success. If they are going to change, they need the tools to do it. It needs to be swift. Just as punishment needs to be swift to be effective, so does treatment and recovery. Being able to partner with Catalyst and utilize all of the programs they offer, allows us (Richland County Court Services) to be able to get our offenders the help they need, quickly and efficiently, which will only help in their recovery and treatment. Not every offender has the same needs as the next and being able to rely on our community partners to provide the treatment at the levels needed, is a great resource and contributes to the overall success of the offender and our programs here at the court. Combining all of these resources helps us reach our common goal and that is to increase the safety and security of our community and the residents of Richland County.” – JJ Bittinger

Alyse Schoeder, Catalyst Life Services gives a presentation to the probation officers about the new detox / withdrawal management facility.

Mansfield Municipal Court – Misdemeanor Treatment Court

Treatment Court is a specialty court that helps decrease the cycle and chance of recidivism, promotes treatment, and reduces stigma in regards to substance use. Treatment Court is beneficial because it  links individuals to needed treatment services instead of serving time in jail and can assist in promoting an individual out of the justice system and into a life of recovery. Participants currently meet twice a month with the Judge, have scheduled office visits with their probation officer, submit to random drug tests, and attend regular treatment sessions as recommended from their assessment.

Interview with Judge Ault

“I feel treatment court is essential for a number of reasons. Communication between the court, probation officers, and the treatment providers keeps everyone up to date on the progress of the people in treatment court, so that non-compliance can be addressed swiftly if necessary. Studies have shown this process will have much better outcomes than incarceration alone. It’s getting to the root of the problem, which is more effective. Treatment court holds all to a very high standard and provides more structure over all, which is beneficial for accountability and success in changing behaviors. Treatment court reduces recidivism, which not only helps the individual, but our community as a whole.

I believe recovery is a journey that encompasses a person’s whole life. Recovery is to attain and continue to live a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically” – Judge Ault


Interview with Taylor Godfrey & Lindsey Barth, Probation Officers:

“We enjoy making a difference in the lives of those who are struggling with addiction while involved in the criminal justice system.  It is a great feeling to see defendants who entered the system addicted, homeless, unemployed, and lost custody of their children transform into productive members of the community who have now obtained employment, obtained housing, are succeeding in their recovery, and regaining custody of their children.

Drug Courts increase accountability for defendants. We focus on the treatment and rehabilitation needs of each defendant while ensuring public safety and reducing recidivism. We work closely with treatment providers to develop the best plan of action for each person. Treatment plans are individualized; what works for one person, may not work for another.

When a defendant graduates the program or even when they opt to sit their jail time, we encourage them to reach out for help if they are ever struggling. I have had many defendants reach out for help, which allowed us to connect them with services before they entered the criminal judges system again.” – Taylor Godfrey & Lindsey Barth

Deanna Roberts, Catalyst Life Services with probation officers from the Mansfield Municipal Court.

Recovery & Suicide Awareness Month, Wk. 2

Did you know?

Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment. We want people to know they can come to Catalyst and receive life-saving treatment!

If you can benefit from this treatment call our 24/7 Helpline at 419-522-HELP.

Agents of Change: Virtual Recovery Run

Catalyst Challenges!

After registering for the Recovery Run, you can participate in any of these challenges and be entered to win weekly prizes!

Just take a picture while doing one of the challenges and post on social media using the hashtag, #catalystrunforrecovery or #richlandrunforrecovery 

Click here to learn more and register!

Q&A with Melissa Harrison

Q1: What is your title and how long have you worked at Catalyst?
I am an AOD case manager with outpatient clients and an AOD case manager for residential clients. I am also a liaison for SATC court.  I have worked with Catalyst for 3 years.

Q2: In a few sentences, can you explain what your role at Catalyst consists of?
My role is assessing clients basic needs, coordinating and linking to community resources, advocating, and budgeting.  I also assist with the clients transition back in the community after residential treatment.

Q3: What do you like the most about your job?
There is not just one aspect of my job I like most. I love everything about my job.

Q4: Why are you passionate about Addiction and Recovery Services?
I have been touched ( as many have) by addiction and recovery in my family. Recovery is possible.  

Q5: What do you think stops people from getting the services they need for addiction?
Being uneducated on the services provided within their community. 

Q6: What would you say to someone struggling right now and does not know where to go or may have lost hope?

Connection is the key. I would definitely find out where the person needs to be connected. I would talk with the person and meet them where they are at with their level of change.  Showing someone empathy can go a long way. 

Recovery is Possible

Amanda’s Recovery Success Story

For 22 years, I was living as a shell of the person I truly am. Drugs and Alcohol had led me down a dark and lonely path. I would have to undergo the worst and most difficult phase of my life. My addiction had trapped me and slowly took me down every time. I thought I could control it, but things only got worse. Each time I said it couldn’t get any worse, it did. I had gone down that path so far, the only thing I had left to lose was my life. I had lost all hope, and was merely living an existence that some people think of as impossible to be redeemed from.  

Click here to see Amanda’s Recovery Run Page and read the rest of her recovery story.

Q&A with Mandi Whitlatch

Q1: How long have you worked at Catalyst Life Services?

I started working for the agency in 2005. I left the agency in 2007 for 90 days to pursue phlebotomy. I soon learned that being a phlebotomist wasn’t my passion.

Q2: In a few sentences, can you explain what your role is and what it may look like on a ‘typical’ day?

I provide daily functional oversight to New Beginnings I (NB1) and New Beginnings II (NBII). I am the liaison between agency and community members to coordinate admissions into NBI and NBII.  I am responsible for 24 hour scheduling for NBI, NBII and Withdrawal Management. I also co-supervise the AoD case manager.

Q3: What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy being able to walk with the clients on their journey. In supervision, I enjoy watching my staff grow in their roles with the agency. I love being able to supervise staff that are in this field to give back, and watching the impact they have on the people that we serve. I have the opportunity to speak with families that are seeking help for their loved ones and hear their stories. I enjoy being able to assist people with getting treatment.

Q4: Why are you passionate about Recovery Services?

I believe that people can recover! Our area is so lucky to have the support of the Richland County Mental Health and Recovery services board. We are very fortunate to have New Beginnings I, New Beginnings II and Withdrawal Management. Most counties have to send their residents out of county to get needed treatment. I have family members that have struggled with substance use, and it is important to me that our organization provides trauma informed care by ethical and competent staff. You never know when someone you love will need our services.

Q5: What would you say to someone who is struggling right now and does not know where to go or may have lost hope?

I would share that recovery can be hard, but is worth it. I would educate them on the services that our agency has, and attempt to engage them with someone here. I would offer them the numbers to Helpline and encourage to reach out to someone anytime that they want to talk.

Suicide Prevention Awareness

Community Involvement

Click to watch the Focus on North Central Ohio Show on WMFD as we discuss Recovery & Suicide Awareness Month, the Recovery Run, SUD Services and how recovery is beautiful!

Learn about Catalyst Detox/Withdrawal Management Services

Recovery & Suicide Awareness Month, Wk. 1

Did you know?

Individuals with substance use disorders are particularly susceptible to suicide and suicide attempts. Indeed, suicide is a leading cause of death among people who misuse alcohol and drugs. Substance misuse significantly increases the risk of suicide. Approximately 22 percent of deaths by suicide involved alcohol intoxication. (SAMHSA)

Catalyst Life Services specializes in dual-diagnosis treatment.

If you can benefit from this treatment call our 24/7 Helpline at 419-522-HELP.

Agents of Change: Virtual Recovery Run

September is Recovery Month! 

Be one of our “Agents of Change” by participating in our Virtual Recovery Run, happening all month long! You can be the difference that makes recovery possible.

Click here to learn more!

Peer Recovery Supporters are individuals who have been in recovery for a number of years and have been certified to help support others who struggle with addiction.Our amazing Peer Supporters share what helped them the most in the early stages of their own recovery.

Click here to see what they shared!

Q&A with Stacy Shoup

Q1: What is your title and how long have you worked at Catalyst? 

I am an AOD Counselor (LCDC II) at the Men’s Residential facility. I have worked at New Beginnings/The Rehab Center/Catalyst Life Services for 29 years full time on Oct. 3rd.
I started as a case manager in our all female residential facility (at the time was adult and adolescent females) and then worked to obtain my LCDC II.

Q2: In a few sentences, can you explain what your role at Catalyst consists of?

Currently I am the Male Counselor. I do everything from Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) 5 days weekly, to individual sessions, some case management and all clinical documentation to include completing and submitting ASAM levels of care (LOC) to insurance companies for approval. I work closely with the house manager to address any presenting issues as it pertains to the consumers along with review of admissions, discharges and transfers in LOC.    

Q3: What do you like the most about your job?

What I like most about my job is seeing our consumers make lifestyle changes, getting to know them as they learn about themselves and understanding them and their needs and how I can help them help themselves, everyday is different.

Q4: What does the word, ‘Recovery’, mean to you?

The word recovery to me means empowerment, growth, and change.

Q5: What do you think stops people from getting the services they need for addiction?

The stigma regarding Addiction/Mental Health can be a barrier to treatment. I also think family members and their lack of knowledge and or compassion, as well as the person themselves. I also believe that a lack of resources for the consumers stops them. I am hopeful that with telehealth more consumers are able to seek services and or stay engaged in services 

Q6: What positive changes do you hope to see in the future for those who struggle with substance use?

Positive changes I hope to see is the consumer being able to get the services they need for as long as they need them without Managed Care Companies dictating what they need and for how long.

Suicide Prevention Awareness

Community Support

We are so grateful to Joe Jakubick with First Energy Foundation for presenting us with financial support for Progress Industries / Catalyst Life Services.

The money will go to fill in funding gaps for clients with barriers to employment. 

Signs of Suicide Prevention Program

The adolescent years can be some of the most challenging years in an individual’s life. It is a time of hormonal changes, figuring out identity, making future plans and becoming independent. Mental health is always important to maintain; however, at a time with so many drastic changes, the need for good mental health becomes more obvious. With suicide being the second-leading cause of death for high school students, suicide and mental health awareness is essential.

Catalyst Life Services is committed to providing excellent mental health support and to raise awareness to the importance of good mental health. One of the ways we create this awareness is through the S.O.S. Program. This program is geared toward high school students and equips them with the knowledge they need to know about suicide including the warning signs and what to do if a friend is exhibiting those signs. Students are provided with resources and shown the importance of taking signs of suicide seriously and how to get help from a trusted adult.

 Kristi Crabb, Child & Adolescent Therapist, is one of the instrumental individuals who makes the S.O.S Program possible. In the past 3 years, she has helped to bring this program to local schools such as Lexington and Clear Fork High Schools. This program has helped countless freshmen students and has a unique structure.

“There is a video that’s shown which is about 25 minutes, then we review with the student, and have a discussion.” Kristi shares. “We have also begun having the students write down any questions they may have and turn them in without their name on them. We feel this allows students to ask their questions more openly without the fear of being judged. We have found this to be very productive.”

If you walk through the halls of Lexington or Clear Fork, you may notice some students wearing purple and green bracelets with the acronym: “B.I.O.N.I.C”. These are the students who have gone through the S.O.S program and desire to share their knowledge with anyone who needs help. This acronym stands for, ‘Believe it or Not I Care’. On the other side of the bracelet is the Catalyst 24/7 HelpLine that can help support anyone is crisis.

This program combats the stigma that is commonly attached to: mental health, self-harm and suicide. Many students feel they are alone and do not share their struggles because of the fear of judgment and being labeled a certain way. However, Kristi Crabb shares that she has seen first-hand how this curriculum has helped to open doors, break down stigma and equip these students on what to do if they themselves or a friend is struggling with thoughts of suicide.

Kristi hopes to continue the program this fall. However, with ongoing changes in protocols and classes at local high schools due to COVID-19, further planning is needed to map out how this program can continue. Stay tuned to see how we will continue to raise awareness for suicide prevention and good mental health.

Peer Recovery Supporters

Peer Recovery Supporters are individuals who have been in recovery for a number of years and have been certified to help support others who struggle with addiction.

Their perspective and support is so unique because they have all personally struggled with substance use and have found freedom, healing and strength on their road to recovery. Our amazing Peer Supporters share what helped them the most in the early stages of their own recovery.

“Discovering sober hobbies was super important early in recovery for me. I honestly had nothing I liked to do aside from getting high. I had to let go of all of my friends because they were still using so I had a ton of free time. I found that I had a huge interest for art and painting (and was actually pretty decent at it). Painting became my escape when I felt triggered or stuck in my own head. I think it is all about stepping out of yourself and your comfort zone to find ones true potential.”

-Olivia Pidgeon

“At that time many things in my life were in disarray. My faith in Jesus Christ gave me the strength to make it through those hard times. Following Christ means humbling yourself, KNOWING His word and trusting that all things work for good for those who love and follow Him. For me, Christ is still a constant in a world filled with uncertainty. This life is a journey, not a destination. To be healthy it is necessary to continue to learn and grow as you pass through the different seasons of your life.”

-Stanley Rust

“What was important to me in early recovery was my on-going and deepening relationship with God.  I had many around me offer me tools to help with my recovery but without a firm foundation on which to stand, I could not have used those tools effectively. God’s complete and absolute love for me and the knowledge of His grace gave me that foundation.”

-Valerie Rust

“In early recovery when I attended AA meetings, I felt as if the leads would jump from their addiction stories to their life now. I remember sitting there thinking (but how did you get from there to here). I really wanted someone to talk about how to get through what I was going through at the time. It was crucial to me to hear words of hope that I could get better if I followed through with the program. Bonding with people in my recovery group was helpful, because it kinda became our struggle, and not just mine. We actually started to care about each other’s recovery as well as our own. Another important piece was staying away from using friends. I tried for awhile to keep the same friends, go the same places, and do the same things, without getting drunk. Well that didn’t last long. All of that had to change as well. As my anxiety increased I really felt the need to reach out to a God I had known about my whole life, but never surrendered to. As my relationship with My God began to grow, I began to have more hope. Finally, I was not alone, but had someone bigger than me who could handle all my struggles much better than I could.”

-Lisa Thornton

“I had tried many times to stop using my way and within 2 to 6 months I would say something like “If this is my life sober, I might as well get high” 

Looking back, in the first 2 years of my recovery I:

  • Changed my way of thinking to improve the quality of my life.
    • I knew I had a problem, however, I had to accept that my way did not work and I would have to find a new way to live.
    • I found people that had been successful in changing their life, that were willing to help me.
    • I had to remember that years of reacting to life by getting high would take years to change. I was in no hurry to fix my life, progress in the right direction was good enough.
  • Developed a new routine that enabled a new way to live
    • My daily routine included hanging out with people that were in recovery, I attended IOP and or 12-step meetings every day. 
    • My routine was focused on adding new people, places and things.  By adding new, the old just fell out of my life.
  • Became aware of what I was thinking about and took action
    • The hardest time for me was the time from when I got off work till I went to bed so I went to meetings and took long walks to keep me from feeling sorry for myself. 
    • I became aware of when I was dwelling on something in the past or the future and learned to accept what I could not change.  I also learned the only thing I could change was how I reacted to life.” -Andrew Martenet

“Having the peers join our SUD team has made such a positive impact for our clients. We all have or will struggle at some point in life, and we all can find strength in the support of others and through positive connection. Peer recovery supporters being able to share their personal lived experience is key in their job and something I am not able to do as a clinician. To me the peer recovery supporters offer hope and guidance for clients. I work with many clients who have no sense of hope or self-esteem when initially coming into treatment. They feel lost and like recovery isn’t a realistic option for them. Peer recovery supporters offer the hope that recovery is possible and share how they personally have experienced the healing process and recovery from addiction. The peers offer motivation and support during trying times and celebrate the successes with clients as they come. Thank you for all that you do for clients and our agency!”

-Deanna Roberts, LSW, Supervisor of Peer Recovery Support