Recovery center begins work on breaking cycles of addiction, recidivism and homelessness

Sue Guinn Legg • Jul 1, 2017 at 10:23 PM

BRISTOL — Recently released from prison and on parole in both Tennessee and Virginia, 30-year-old Jamie Nunley has spent most of his adult life behind bars.

He takes ownership of the wrong decisions and alcohol addiction that contributed to his recidivism. He recognizes there is only so much his family can do. And he appreciates the new opportunity for success he has accessed at the recently opened Bristol Lifestyle Recovery center.

A faith-based, residential facility for men and women with addictions, pregnant mothers at risk of giving birth to drug-addicted infants, people recently released from incarceration and young adults who have aged out of foster care, the transitional program with wrap-around support services opened its doors June 21.

Nunley is among its first residents, and for the first time, he said, he is receiving help he needs. Granted a court order to come to the facility, he said, “I told them I have never had the treatment I asked for.”

Bob Garrett, the executive director of Fairview Housing Development Corp., which has spent the past two years working to open the center, said the courts are pleased to have a new program to help people. And judges are not the only officeholders expressing appreciation for the center.

Dr. Stephen Loyd, assistant commissioner of substance abuse services for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health, was an early advocate. Before his appointment to the Department of Mental Health, Loyd went before the governing boards of the cities of Bristol, Tennessee, and Bristol, Virginia to help win support for the center.

On its recent opening, Loyd said, “The department is supportive of all avenues of treatment that lead to recovery for people in our state, particularly those struggling with substance use disorder during their pregnancy. New facilities that prioritize this population are a welcome and needed addition to our treatment system.”

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Bill Hazel, former secretary of the Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, have also toured the facility and spoken about the need for the program.

Located on the state line in Bristol, the 240-bed center provides affordable housing, case management, evidence-based cognitive behavioral classes, counseling, work training, employment assistance, transportation, medical and dental care and other wrap-around services made possible by partnerships with more than 30 other nonprofit agencies in the region.

More than that, Nunley said, “These folks genuinely care for you. There truly is a lot of love here, and a lot of help. ... This feels like what I needed. These people sincerely want you to succeed.”

One week into the program, Nunley said he was gaining perspective in daily classes. And his daily work assignments are something he takes pride in.

“We’re helping them get this building ready and it’s not taken for granted. This is our home. We’re helping them and they’re helping us. It’s a family. You’re not just a client,” Nunley said.

The program is designed to help its participants successfully integrate into the community over a period of up to two years.

Nunley’s goal is to find employment and pay his own way through the $800-a-month program. He has experience in food service and is gaining more while working in the center’s kitchen.

He is applying for jobs with local companies willing to hire offenders and hopes to complete the program in eight months to a year. His long-range goal is to provide a home for himself and his young daughter.

“I’m taking it one day at a time. But it’s not just my time, it’s my daughter’s time,” he said. “We tell her the truth. She knows where I have been and she knows I have made a lot of wrong decisions. But she also knows I have never had any help.”

More information is available at bristollifestylerecovery.org or by calling 423-845-5600.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.





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