The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (NYS OASAS) recently announced the opening of Onward Recovery, a new Recovery Community and Outreach Center (RCOC) in the Hudson Valley. The Center will provide free supports and services for people (ages 18 and older) who are in recovery from a substance use disorder, as well as for their families. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Program Manager, Damian DePauw to learn about the Center and its programs.

Located in Newburg, the Onward Recovery RCOC serves five counties (Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster). According to Mr. DePauw, the Center provides three types of services – Ongoing Recovery Coaching, Referral Services, and Groups and Activities, and has also established a Meet Up group – Sober Socials of the Hudson Valley.
The Center employs three Recovery Coaches (CRPAs) who travel throughout the five counties to provide one-on-one recovery coaching on a regular basis. When demand is high, it relies on its close partnerships with other organizations that employ recovery coaches to work with individuals in their communities. (For example, they’ve worked with RCADD to connect a coach with someone in Rockland County.)

As a referral source, Onward Recovery staff will sit with individuals (including walk-ins) while calling around to get them into treatment or detox. Once they’ve secured a placement, a member of the Center’s staff will offer to drive them there. While the Center can only work with individuals 18 and older, when approached to provide referrals for younger members of the community, they will connect the family with a Family Support Navigator.

Groups and activities currently available at the Center range from a variety of recovery groups for individuals, families, and members of the LGBTQ community to wellness planning, job readiness, and relapse prevention. You can view the full October schedule here. According to Mr. DePauw, while attendance has been great, some programs are significantly better attended than others. For example, because so many folks in recovery are already attending support groups elsewhere as part of whatever program they’re using, they’re not really interested in attending any more of them. Instead, they’re showing up for things like aromatherapy and job readiness and one of the newer programs, Laughter is the Best Medicine.
The Sober Socials of the Hudson Valley Meet-Up group, which is open to the Center’s members as well as the general community, already has 55 members. Targeted to those who are interested in meeting to participate in leisurely activities centered on wellness throughout the area, the group has gone hiking together and even met for a guided meditation at a local park along the Hudson River. Future meet-ups being discussed include a sober dance and going out to share a meal.

When asked about addiction in the community, Mr. DePauw mentioned that Newburg is an urban area with high crime rates, drugs and prostitution that has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic; and that for the majority of people coming in to the Center, Heroin is the drug of choice.

DePauw and his team are working hard to let folks know about the Center and its programs. He and his team visit service providers throughout the region at least once or twice each week to talk about the Center, its philosophy, programs and services, and to ask the providers what they’d like to see in an RCOC. They’ve also produced and distributed pamphlets, flyers and foldable cards to raise awareness about this important and “free” resource available to anyone needing help and support. In fact, the City of Newburgh Police Department now carries the cards in their cruisers to hand out to anyone they suspect may need help. Additionally, if a therapist reaches out to the Center to let them know a patient is being discharged, an Onward Recovery staff member will offer to pick the patient up and drive them home in order to with the individual and let them know that Onward Recovery is there for them and can work with them to help support their recovery.

Furthermore, both Mr. DePauw and Independent Living’s Director, Ray Rodriguez sit on a number of committees throughout the region (e.g. Orange County Provider Committee, Welcome Orange and various substance committees in Dutchess, Orange and Rockland Counties) where they share information and updates on the Center and its programs.

Clearly, the Onward Recovery RCOC is providing valuable and desperately needed services to the residents of the five counties it serves and Mr. DePauw and his team are working hard to serve its members and get the word out to the community. To learn more about the Center, including its hours of operation, address, contact information and social media channels, click here.