A program held in the Lawrence County Jail to help men struggling with substance abuse disorders recently received a renewal of its grant to continue for another year.
PACT (Peers Achieving Collaborative Treatment) is led by Lee Hand, a certified peer recovery support specialist.
Funded through the SOR2 (State Opioid Response) grant, the program includes drug and alcohol support groups, life skills education, anger management classes and motivational speakers.
Originally the grant was to be awarded to eight agencies for one year, but instead it was awarded to four agencies for two years at $50,000 per year.
There are currently 17 inmates enrolled in PACT, but the number fluctuates some. Hand holds approximately 12 classes a week at the jail, all of which are voluntary.
Chief Deputy Tony Waldrupe said that is a key to the program’s success.
“When they are volunteering for it, it means they really want it,” he said. “You have more success that way.”
The program has seen 12 men graduate from its first anger management session, and many participants in PACT have continued to meet with Hand after they leave the jail.
“Once they are released from jail, I work with them to help them find employment, housing, treatment facilities and assistance,” Hand said. “I still meet with them on a weekly basis.”
Waldrupe said having that connection is vital.
“They know when they get out they have someone they can call,” he said. “There are some who he is meeting with who have left jail who are excelling right now.”
Hand said he can connect with the men in the program on a personal level because he is also in long-term recovery.
“These guys identify better with someone with lived experience than a clinician,” Hand said.
Waldrupe agreed saying, “He’s been in the same shoes that a lot of these men are in.”
Hand, who has an office in the Lawrence County Courthouse, said anyone in the community who is struggling with drugs or alcohol can also feel free to contact him at 870-810-1664.
“I’d be glad to help any way that I can,” he said.