HUNTINGTON - Greg Perry, now four years into his recovery, is the project coordinator at Recovery Point of Huntington. Tuesday, he handed a certificate to the man who helped him take the steps he needed to get to where he is today.
Matthew Hall, Perry's mentor when he entered Recovery Point, was one of 15 West Virginians to graduate from Recovery Point's peer recovery coach credential course.
"Matthew was our version of a peer mentor who guided me through the program," Perry said. "I got a little emotional because the bond that we have is very deep. We have both dodged a bullet from active addiction and alcoholism in our lives and we've both come out the other side. That is a bond that will last a lifetime. We will run through a wall for each other. That is what peer recovery brings about."
The West Virginia Certification Board for Addiction and Prevention Professionals (WVCBAPP) now offers a working credential for peers in recovery who work as recovery coaches and peer support specialists.
There are more than 100 credentialed recovery coaches in West Virginia since 2014. Recovery Point of Huntington has trained more than 60 students in two years.
Recovery Point of Huntington provides training that meets the educational requirements of the credential. Upon completing the five-week, 46-hour training, students use the certificate they receive to then apply for the peer recovery credential through WVCBAPP. The classes are offered via distance learning, and are available to any person in the state of West Virginia who has an internet connection, a webcam and the willingness to attend classes in real time over the internet.
Students learn boundaries, ethics, motivational interviewing and other skills to help guide people to the recovery model that is right for them.
Tuesday's class was the sixth class to graduate from the program in two years.
Rufus Norman, of Logan County, was part of the class.
"We don't have a lot of recovery in Logan right now, and I want to be that catalyst that goes out there and shares the experience of recovery," Norman said. "I want to go out there and spread the love and support."
Norman became addicted to cocaine and marijuana later in his life than what is typical. At 37, a bad relationship sent him into the wrong crowd.
"I fell in love with these people," Norman said. "They were caring, but they just had this substance abuse problem. I didn't understand it. Then I started actually experiencing it myself, and I realized these are people just like me, and we fall down, but we get back up."
He said he hopes to be an example of recovery and hope in his community.
Recovery Point Executive Director Matt Boggs said sometimes the fact that there are lots of people living in long-term recovery gets lost in the talk about the problem of addiction.
"People are getting clean every day," Boggs said. "And peers have such a substantial role in that. Part of the recovery process is building a support network of other peers in recovery that help you sustain your own recovery. I think sometimes we as a society fail to recognize that."
Boggs said it took a hearing from others who have walked in recovery to open his eyes and ears to his own recovery.
A new peer recovery class will begin at the end of July. To find out more about the course, visit www.recoverypointwv.org, or contact Perry at 304-523-4673, ext. 309.
Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter @TaylorStuckHD.