Wyoming County Human Services Director Michael Donahue has seen it hundreds of times.

A drug or alcohol addict gets clean at a treatment facility then returns to the same environment and relapses.

A new initiative in the drug and alcohol treatment community may help prevent those relapses.

Wyoming and Susquehanna Counties soon will become the first in the region to host Recovery Support Centers — facilities that offer
comprehensive support services and recreational activities to help recovering addicts abandon their old habits and transition to a new, sober
lifestyle.

Finding new recreational activities to replace the destructive behaviors is among the major challenges people in recovery face, Donahue said.

Recovery centers provide them a safe place to socialize with others facing the same challenges.

“Our goal is to give people who are in recovery a place they can go and meet other people who share their hopes and experiences with each other and support one another, giving them a stronger link to the recovery process,” Donahue said.

The centers are a project of the Northeast Behavioral Health Care Consortium, a nonprofit organization that manages behavioral health programs
for the state’s Medicaid program.

NBHC first proposed opening the centers in 2016. It sent out request for proposals seeking organizations interested in operating them, but got only a handful of responses, said Jim Gallagher, NBHC’s executive director.

The organization reissued the RFP and recently awarded the first contract to Trehab Community Services in Montrose. NBHC plans to issue
another RFP for operators to open centers in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, Gallagher said.

The concept of Recovery Support Centers is still relatively new. The idea is to extend to the real world the support services those in recovery
receive while in treatment, Gallagher said.

“A lot of time they come back into the real world with their former friends and former activities and fall right back into the habit,” Gallagher said.
“Recovery centers give them the opportunity and place to work things out and not fall back into their old patterns… It opens another door to
recovery they didn’t have in the past.”

The centers, which will be open 42 hours a week, also will provide additional support services to help participants and their families improve their
lives, including help in finding a job or continuing their education, said Dennis Phelps, executive director of Trehab.

“It’s a comprehensive approach to connect community service and essential services for people in recovery,” Phelps said.

NBHC awarded Trehab $941,000 in one-time Medicaid money to buy buildings in Tunkhannock and Montrose and assist with other opening
costs, Gallagher said. Trehab will be responsible for obtaining its own funding to continue operating the centers, he said.

Trehab plans to open the Montrose center, 19 Public Ave., by mid-July, Phelps said, and to close on the purchase of a building at 102 Warren St.
in Tunkhannock within the next few weeks. The Tunkhannock center should open by mid-August, he said.

Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137

BY TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER, THE TIMES-TRIBUNE

This story is part of an Associated Press project. America is in the midst of the deadliest drug epidemic in its history and Pennsylvania is at the epicenter. In 2016, more than 2,200 Pennsylvanians died of opioid overdoses, the fourth highest rate in the US, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Opioid deaths made up about half of all drug overdoses in the state that year. The death toll from opioids abuse has climbed so high that the governor’s office this year issued an emergency declaration. That designation calls for increased coordination and tracking of the work of health and safety agencies dealing with the public health emergency. Newsrooms have been documenting the epidemic’s soaring numbers for close to two decades. Now, a special project marshalling their combined strength is focusing on what Pennsylvanians around the state are doing to try to reverse this most deadly trend. These are stories of community support, outreach, care and prevention. All are about hope.