The drug recovery efforts taking place in Appalachia are beginning to receive more coverage in local and national papers. We’re starting to see recovery talked about as much if not more than the opioid epidemic.
This is a good thing.
Too often when discussing Appalachia, the problems faced in the region become the focus and overshadow the solutions and the people working to create opportunity in our communities. People living both inside and outside Appalachia need to hear about the expertise and capacity we have within our communities to effectively bring change, even while dealing with chronic disinvestment.
A recent New York Times article featured the Appalachian Artisan Center based in Hindman, Kentucky. The organization has established an apprentice program for young adults in recovery called Culture of Recovery. Participants in the program are learning artistic trades, most notably in this article, the creating and repairing of stringed instruments or luthiery. Those learning the trade are apprenticed at the Appalachian School of Luthiery who partners with the Artisan Center, and the Knott Country Drug Court. Another partner in the program is Hickory Hill Recovery Center for Men, operated by Fahe Member Kentucky River Community Care. Hickory Hill is one of the many drug recovery centers in which Fahe helped secure financing for construction.
One of the big takeaways discussed in this article is that instrument crafting by hand requires a keen focus, attention to detail, and a commitment to a goal, which many believe are qualities that can be honed to support the person during their journey through recovery. Another insight is that for some of the participants of the program, creating their first instrument is the first time they’ve seen a goal to completion in their lives. And that feeling and that accomplishment can become a blueprint for how they focus and tackle other problems.
It’s important to note that focus, commitment, and accomplishment of goals aren’t isolated to luthier work, but can be found in any job when a person is trusted with responsibility. Many people going through recovery face a huge stigma when searching for employment. There’s a strong belief they are untrustworthy and will likely relapse. However, for many people, the chance to work and the chance to create a new life helps prevent recidivism. It’s a catch 22.
Programs like Culture of Recovery are essential to provide people with a chance to make a living and seek out new opportunities in their lives. Just as important is the increased media coverage around these programs. By spreading these stories of hope and success, these reporters and outlets are helping to reduce the stigma around employing individuals in recovery, which ultimately builds stronger communities and economies for us all.