Encouraging healthy behavior and decreasing substance abuse in our community.


Published on August 22nd, 2019 | by Deb Wolf


Recovery Phone Calls Provide Support for Those Impacted by Substance Use

Current prEvents — August 9, 2019 — The Times Argus


Social support is a critical part of human existence, and can impact both emotional and physical health. Unfortunately, not all Vermonters have the benefit of a strong support system, and that can be especially true for individuals who are in recovery from substance use disorder.

The Vermont Recovery Network offers a solution that can help Vermonters state-wide, whether they are in recovery themselves or have a loved one that is struggling with substance use. The Vermont Telephone Recovery Support Service (VTRSS) provides recovery check-in phone calls for those who sign up. The calls are made by volunteers and staff from twelve Recovery Centers. The VTRSS is completely free–like all services offered by the Recovery Centers–and is also confidential.

VTRSS callers have two primary objectives when reaching out to participants. Firstly, they offer social support which helps boost morale and motivation for an individual to stay in recovery. Additionally, they provide information about various resources which might be helpful to the person they are calling. By offering encouragement and information, VTRSS callers are helping participants to feel more connected and giving them some tools with which they can remain resilient.

Not only is the VTRSS a great source of social support, it also provides individuals with peer support. The Recovery Center staff and volunteers who make the calls are all peers–meaning they are in recovery from substance use themselves. Rather than speaking to a professional who may not fully understand what those in recovery are going through, participants get to speak with people who have had similar life experiences.

The VTRSS is designed to meet people where they are in their recovery journey. Individuals can get involved whether they are doing well, feeling shaky, or in crisis, and they can stop the Service at any time. The Vermont Recovery Network and the Recovery Centers it supports aim to make the service as client-driven as possible, so participants get the support they need. For instance, VTRSS callers can provide information about various services to people who are looking to get involved with in-person supports. On the other hand, the VTRSS can also be a fantastic resource for someone who is not ready to go to meetings or engage in other in-person services.

The VTRSS is also a great tool for individuals who have transportation barriers and cannot get to a recovery center. This is certainly a challenge in Vermont, where the landscape is largely rural. The confidential support the calls provide is important in the recovery journey.

Participants can receive calls Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. They are able to select their preferred time slot(s) upon signing up, and at the end of each call. Participants also get to decide how often they receive their recovery calls; some people might want to be called every other day, while others only want to be contacted once a month. The default schedule is once a week, but it is important that individuals choose the schedule that best supports their needs. In the future, the Vermont Recovery Network would like to expand the VTRSS hours to include some nights and weekends, to further accommodate the busy schedules of its participants.

So, how can people sign up?

There are multiple ways to sign up for the VTRSS. For one thing, an individual can sign up by visiting or calling a local Recovery Center. There are twelve throughout the state–one in each county. For Washington County it is the Turning Point Center of Central Vermont (TPCCV) at 802-479-7373.

People can also sign up on the Vermont Recovery Network website, www.vtrecoverynetwork.org, under “Peer Recovery Support Services.”
Lastly, individuals can sign up by completing and returning a paper referral form. Referral forms can be requested by emailing info@vtrecoverynetwork.org.

Many people in our state are impacted by substance use, and the VTRSS is here to help. Sign up today to receive your first recovery check-in call.

Chelsea Boston is the Program Coordinator at the Vermont Recovery Network in Montpelier.

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