Recovery Organization Support Specialist (ROSS) is a state- and federally-funded recovery program that goes beyond the traditional in-house services to support those in recovery. The program began in April 2018 and since that time, the City of Tallassee in Elmore and Tallapoosa counties has placed 233 people into a recovery facility.
"Out of those only three people have relapsed," ROSS certified recovery support specialist Elizabeth Harrison said.
According to Harrison, there have been several keys players that helped with the program's success, including Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett, Tallassee Municipal Judge Lina Benson, Tallapoosa County District Judge Kim Taylor, Emily Duerr of Tallapoosa and Randolph Counties Court Referral Services and the Tallapoosa County Department of Human Resources.
"Because of these people our recovery program has helped more people than any other area in Southeast Alabama,” Harrison said.
Harrison says the City of Tallassee is a model of success for the program, and due to the recovery success rate in the area, ROSS is launching the same recovery program statewide.
Because it can be difficult to understand the process of recovery, this program is peer-based, meaning each certified support specialist is in recovery and has maintained recovery for at least two years. Specialists are certified through the Alabama Department of Mental Health. Each recovery support specialist is trained and certified which allows he or she to better relate to an active addict.
Harrison first began going inside Tallapoosa County Jail to seek out those inmates who needed recovery. This arm of the program has also seen tremendous success and will soon be implemented in the Montgomery city and county jails.
Furthermore, ROSS offers assistance to anyone who seeks recovery, even those who are not incarcerated.
"People don't have to be in jail to receive our services," Harrison said. "We have a 24/7 crisis line that anyone can call for help. Anytime someone calls they are connected to a certified recovery specialist who will help them obtain the services that are needed."
Harrison said addiction is not a choice and should be looked at as a disease.
"Addiction is like cancer or diabetes,” she said. “Addiction is not curable but it is treatable and manageable if people get the services they need, and that is our focus at ROSS.”
The cost of a recovery center can be expensive, even for those who have health insurance that covers the service. Even then, a patient could have to travel miles away to receive that treatment. This is why ROSS aims to help everyone reach recovery.
"Often those who truly need help with recovery have no way of obtaining it because of cost and sometimes because of lack of transportation," Harrison said. "We remove those barriers. ROSS will pay for the assessment fee and a recovery support specialist will drive anyone seeking recovery to a center."
According to Harrison, ROSS’ programs aim to rehabilitate recovering addicts and give them back a sense of normalcy.
"Having the disease of addiction does not make someone a bad person. We help remove that stigmatism," she said. "Because someone suffers from this disease, that does not make them a bad person. We are still capable of great things."
If you are in need of recovery or know someone in need, call the ROSS 24/7 recovery hotline at 1-844-307-1760 where you will be connected with a certified recovery support specialist.
ROSS is currently seeking certified recovery support specialist for this area; if you are interested, contact Harrison at 334-580-7861.