The addiction to substances is an epidemic in the United States that has devastated not only families but communities as well. Although there are many non-profit organizations and ministries dedicated to helping those who are suffering, it is often hard for addicts and their families to find information in order to make informed decisions about recovery. To help make the process easier, nursing students at the College of Coastal Georgia partnered with The Remedy Project to create an addiction recovery resource that references rehabilitation centers across Georgia, northern Florida, and southern South Carolina.
The Remedy Project (TRP) is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Glynn County that provides addiction counseling services to individuals and family group counseling at no charge to the client or their family. John Keen is the executive director for The Remedy Project. In 2020, Keen and his wife Beth, who were working in a private practice as credentialed addiction therapists, realized many people in the community needed and wanted help but could not afford the services. They then started The Remedy Project to meet those needs.
The idea for the recovery resource came about during a conversation between Aaron Allen, certified addiction counselor at The Remedy Project, and Amy Bowles, assistant professor of nursing at the College. Bowles and Allen talked about the work of The Remedy Project and the difficulties addicts and their loved ones face when looking for appropriate placement for people struggling with addiction. Bowles thought it would be a great community issue for students in her NURS 3208 Mental Health Nursing class to tackle as a service-learning project.
"The statistics for substance abuse/addiction are staggering. Death by overdose has become overwhelming. When substance users are ready to get help, a huge barrier is not being able to find the resources they need," Bowles said.
Students were divided into groups and were assigned different regions to search for facilities and resources, while one group compiled all the information together in a digital format requested by TRP. The recovery resource is divided by region and coded for services such as allowing children to stay with patients during outpatient treatment, gender population, religious-based, etc. The resource also shares information about costs and types of insurance that are accepted.
"The need for our services is huge, so having a resource like what the students provided us will be much more efficient in locating the right rehab facility when there is such a need," Keen said. "We are so grateful for the students and Amy for providing us this resource."
Bowles shared that students were excited to work on the project and be a part of something that would help the community. However, through the process, some students became frustrated with how difficult it was to get information on rehab facilities, and empathized with how upset those who are struggling with addiction and their families might feel.
"Many did rotations at Saint Simons By the Sea and saw first-hand the need for the resource," Bowles said. "Others have friends or family members who suffer from substance abuse and they knew this was a needed resource. We want the community to know that mental health is a brain issue. They should not be embarrassed or reluctant to get help. We want them to know there is help available."
For the nursing students, Allen hoped that they developed a compassion for clients they will encounter who suffer from addiction.
"Nursing staff are on the frontlines of treatment, whether it is private practice or emergency rooms. Our history of working in psychiatric hospitals, emergency rooms, and residential treatment facilities tells us that nurses who are informed and compassionate towards clients with addiction are very effective in helping to treat addiction," Allen said. "Understanding the vast array of addiction treatment facilities out there can impact their ability to help patients get to a facility that is more appropriate in meeting the needs of the patients they serve."
The recovery resource will soon be available on The Remedy Project's website. To learn more about The Remedy Project, visit www.theremedyproject.com.
This project was also submitted into the College's annual Service-Learning Symposium in May and was voted "Best in Show." To view the presentation, go to https://libguides.ccga.edu/c.php?g=1021723&p=7489349.