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Healing Place, former client praised by Gov. Tomblin

Jan. 10, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Healing Place of Huntington, a long-term drug rehabilitation center on 9th Avenue, and one of its successful graduates got a shoutout Wednesday in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's State of the State Address.

Tomblin pointed out how The Healing Place has plans to expand its services to help more people like Josh Morrison of Milton.

"Josh grew up in Milton, W.Va. He had an ideal childhood, loved to play sports and be with his friends," Tomblin said in his speech. "Unfortunately, Josh was diagnosed with a bone disease. He had four surgeries and became addicted to prescription painkillers. Josh's story is like so many we hear from across the state; When his pain got too bad he took another pill, then another. Josh spiraled into drug addiction. He started stealing and he ended up in prison.

"Josh said in a letter, and I quote: 'I was at the end of my rope and after a failed suicide attempt I found myself in jail serving a ten-year sentence. I was 28 years old and I just wanted to die. My addiction had me and I had no way of beating it ... then I was sent to the Healing Place of Huntington.' "

Tomblin congratulated Morrison for four years of sobriety. Morrison now is married and managing two businesses.

"Josh is a wonderful example of why we must never lose sight that every person, every life, is significant," Tomblin said.

Morrison and his wife attended the State of the State event, along with other representatives from the center.

The Healing Place offers nonmedical detox and long-term residential addiction recovery programs. It is free to participants and depends entirely on private donations and grants. It operates on a $500,000 annual budget, but it hopes to double in size. It pays $25 a day per resident, which according to the organization is less than the average $250-per-day cost of a traditional treatment facility and $50-per-day cost of jail. Residents usually stay for nine to 12 months, said Rebecca Stanley, the center's development director.

It's modeled after a program in Louisville, where 65 percent of alumni stayed sober for a year after the program, and where 85 percent of those stayed sober for at least five years. Based on a 12-step recovery program, it's run by in-house peer mentors who are residents who have recently completed the program themselves to serve as successful role models. They facilitate meetings, classes and peer support groups.

"I think it's wonderful that (the governor) recognized The Healing Place and that he has an understanding of the importance of our program and other programs like ours," Stanley said. "I think it's great that there's an emphasis on recovery so we can alleviate the epidemic of addiction. ... There aren't enough programs to support the need."

She added that The Healing Place hopes to expand from 50 to 100 beds but it needs about $450,000 to complete construction of the facility. If construction is completed by October, it will receive two $250,000 grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. If not, it will lose the grant money, Stanley said.

The Healing Place can be reached at 304-523-4673 or online at www.thehealingplaceofhuntington.org.

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