Joe Buyse and Linda Sarage led the five-day academy.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than two dozen peer coaches graduated on Friday from a CCAR Recovery Coach Academy hosted by the Beacon Recovery Center.
The 29 new coaches walked out of the Holiday Inn on Friday afternoon with new skills after the culmination of a five-day program that has expanded the recovery community in Northern Berkshire County.
"This is a network and you guys just created another piece of the network and we are super proud that you guys are here," Amber Besaw, director of North Berkshire Community Coalition said. "It is all good stuff."
The peer-to-peer recovery program opened only a couple months ago but has already provided support to many affected by addiction who stop by the center situated at the Green at 85 Main St.
The program stems from conversations through the community coalition as part of its efforts to address needs identified by the community and the regional opioid working group.
The program was funded through an earmark awarded through the Berkshire County sheriff's department and funds received from a planning grant awarded by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration to the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
This allowed NBCC to heavily underwrite the cost of the five-day training.
Linda Sarage, consultant and former director of The Recover Project in Greenfield and Joe Buyse, director of Living in Recovery in Pittsfield, facilitated the training of the group of 29 over the five days. The group was a mix of community members as well as representatives from area providers
"People who come here have that lived experience or desire to help and support recovery in someone's life," Sarage said afterward. "They come here and they get some science of recovery and some skills to support recovery ... and then they put their skills together and they design their own art of recovery counseling."
Buyse said the training is a nonclinical way to complement clinical services.
"It’s the after-care we are talking about. The recovery coaches are the people with stability, with lived experiences, with wisdom, and they walk along someone who is fragile and vulnerable," he said. "They help establish their path of recovery and provide support for those nonclinical issues."
After a brief graduation ceremony during which the graduates received certificates, some of them lingered to discuss the program.
"I have been a registered recovery coach since 2012," Adam Galambos said. "This is my first training for CCAR and this is by far the most effective way to bring people into recovery."
Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery in Hartford pioneered the work in peer recovery more than a decade ago and developed the training program.
"It was amazing and I am very grateful to have done it ... it is a lot to take in for five days but I will be able to process it," Ryan Johnson said. "The biggest thing I took away was diversity and everyone is on a different path but in recovery, we are all headed towards the same goal."
"I think it is super important to have gone through this training and to be able to know about the resources in the community," Jessica Dabrowski, a social worker with Berkshire Health Systems, said. "I am honored to be a recovery coach."
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