Rossanna Aldrich said she had the vision to start what would become Recover Appalachia around three years ago. Photo by Brad Hicks/Johnson City Press
ERWIN — Unicoi County resident Rossanna Aldrich said she had the vision to start what would become Recover Appalachia around three years ago, but she was not ready to act on the idea at that time.
But Aldrich decided that she could no longer be a part of the problem by doing nothing. She said that with a broken heart due to drug problems in her own family, a $5,000 donation and a promise, she opened Recover Appalachia, a drug recovery support service, in mid-September.
It’s through the services offered at Recover Appalachia that Aldrich hopes to make big changes from the small suite along Main Avenue where her office is located by helping affected individuals with a problem she feels has impacted far too many. Aldrich also said the lack of such a service in Unicoi County prompted her to start Recover Appalachia.
“I don’t suspect that we’re going to end the drug problem,” she said. “I know we’re not, but if we can save one life, if we can just make a dent, if we can educate our community, whatever we can do, I think we owe it to our kids, our families and our community to do so.”
Aldrich said Recover Appalachia utilizes the Overcomers Recovery Support Program founded by Charles and Sharon Burton. Overcomers is a 12-step, 90-day program, a program that Aldrich said fulfills the promise she made to God that, if she were to start such a program, she would keep it faith-based and God at the center of it.
“I believe that God has to have a hand in any healing,” Aldrich said.
Recover Appalachia has support group meetings every Thursday evening for anyone suffering from what Aldrich called a “life-controlling problem.” She also said that through the recovery support program, she hopes to get those affected by drug addiction the aid they need to change detrimental behaviors and provide them with a place to share their experiences with others with the goal of preventing others from making the same mistakes.
“When they get out of jail, they need that support system, they need somewhere where they can go and they can talk and they can get away from that environment and the behaviors they were in, so that’s what recovery support is,” Aldrich said. “We want to offer that to them. If they need somebody to talk to, we want to be here.”
She also said that although Recover Appalachia is not a full treatment center, those at the facility can act as a “middle man” to see that those in need of assistance beyond a recovery support program receive that help.
“We have a great need here,” Aldrich said. “People are hurting. People are literally hurting every single day, and parents are at their wits’ end. They don’t know where to go. They don’t want people to know. If you’ve got a child that’s addicted to drugs, you don’t want your next-door neighbor to know, you don’t want people in your own family to know that. So what happens when that happens is it goes untreated.
“Our judges don’t want to be problem-solvers. Our judges want to hear an argument and make a decision, but because of lack of resources, they are struggling with what to do with these kids, so what they’re doing is watching the kids, the young kids in our community, grow up in their courtrooms. And then, when they become adults, they end up in prison.”
Aldrich said she put a priority on assisting local youths with drug issues, as she said the problem can be addressed before it follows the affected into adulthood. She said Recover Appalachia has already been granted the opportunity to work with the local juvenile court system, and youths who enter the program will participate in a 10-week program that includes group discussion, guest speakers and community service projects.
“The thing about drugs and addiction, it doesn’t discriminate,” Aldrich said. “It’s just like cancer, it doesn’t discriminate against anybody. It can target kids. It can target the pastor’s kids, the kids that grew up in good Christian homes with good moral values that were taught right from wrong. It can target them just as well as it could target a child whose parent taught them how to do drugs. And that happens here in Unicoi County. There’s parents that teach their kids how to do drugs. That’s a huge problem.”
Aldrich said she has filed for nonprofit status, which will allow her to pursue grant funding for Recover Appalachia. She said the facility is also conducting court-required drug testing as well as pre-employment drug testing as a way to fund the recovery-support program.
“I can’t tell you tomorrow where the next dollar is going to come from in this program, but I believe my God knows,” she said.
Aldrich said those wishing to participate in programs offered through Recover Appalachia may do so on a self-referral basis. For more information, call 330-6105. The program’s office is located at 1069 N. Main Ave.