The State of Georgia is undertaking an effort to evaluate how communities in this very diverse state can best deliver mental health and substance use recovery services. As the program continues to define recovery informed by peer navigators, state officials take important steps to improve personal network development and enhance peer support services.
In Georgia, Mark Baker has been asking important questions: What programs, practices, and protocols enhance recovery programs for both mental health patients and those impacted by substance abuse who want to get clean? Mr. Baker heads the Office of Recovery Transformation in Georgia, and he is tasked with finding what works. It is a strategic effort by the state to build coalitions with practitioners and the recovery community. “We know that the strength of recovery lies within the community, so we have had 31 community sessions to listen to those in recovery and their allies in rural communities, towns, and cities across the state. We consistently ask the people in every session ‘What recovery solutions-focused activities and programs work for you?’”
“Our message is that recovery is for everyone and anyone who wants to work for it, and we want to support and enhance the things that help sustain it,” said Baker.
Baker has used the listening sessions to develop a definition of recovery from both substance abuse and mental health issues that can inform the development of the entire delivery system in a very diverse state. The working draft of the definition, which is being disseminated around the state to refine and improve it, is:
Recovery is a deeply personal, unique, and self-determined journey through which an individual strives to reach his/her full potential. Persons in recovery improve their health and wellness by taking responsibility in pursuing a fulfilling and contributing life while embracing the difficulties one has faced.
Recovery is not a gift from any system. Recovery is nurtured by relationships and environments that provide hope, empowerment, choices, and opportunities.
Recovery belongs to the person. It is a right, and it is the responsibility of us all. Mark Baker said, “We are going to go back to 18 communities this year and ask them what is next for building recovery in their community. We need a definition of recovery that is values driven.”
The Office of Recovery Transformation grew out of the Georgia Recovery Initiative (GRI), also headed by Baker when he was Director of Advocacy for the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. GRI was a group made up of people in recovery, advocates, family members, and providers of service with a common voice supporting a recovery oriented system of care in the state of Georgia. They held listening sessions throughout the state in 2011 and 2012 to review and improve recovery services delivery.
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