There is a brief window of opportunity during which a person in active addiction reaches out for help to get sober, and Ryan Paige, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of AccessDirect Recovery Network, knows from lived experience how quickly this window closes.
“Real time might be the last time,” Paige explains what he means by that phrase, “It’s the point when things are bad enough, whether physically or spiritually, when someone knows they need to make a change. They are ready to accept help. Now, if they have to wait for an available bed, then we are now closing the window on how much time we actually have because it’s very likely that before tomorrow they will either figure out a way to get high or decide it isn’t that bad, or die.”
The scarcity of available detox and residential treatment beds and funding makes this brief timeframe even more challenging to those who wish to assist people with substance use disorder to find their pathways to recovery. AccessDirect Recovery Network grew out of this challenge, to connect individuals with the resources they need while they are open to making a change.
There is no typical phone call. What people are calling for can be different – it can be anything from direction and connection to recovery resources such as medical detox, residential treatment or recovery residences. They need funding options. Some callers may say I’m not ready to get sober but I don’t have any Narcan. These callers are connected with resources that provide safe-using supplies, clothes, tents or other items to help them survive. The caller could be a parent looking for resources for a teen or emotional support for themselves. Whatever the need, Paige stresses the call is about developing a connection with the person on the other end. While Paige is on the call, his mind is also going over what services would be best suited for the situation. The options vary depending on insurance, financial ability, bed availability, funding capacity and scholarship availability.
Paige describes a call, “So if somebody’s looking for detox and they say, ‘I need detox for fentanyl. I’ve been sober one day and I’m really going through it. I really need to get into detox today’.”
After that call, Paige will be connecting to all the facilities in-network to connect them to a bed that meets their needs. Though AccessDirect does have a large list of facilities that are in network with most insurance providers, the majority of their calls are from people with Mainecare or no insurance and little to no financial means. Paige says, “They are coming to us driven by desperation and hopelessness “
Due to the scarcity of treatment beds in Maine, Paige knows he may be making numerous calls before he actually finds a solution and often those solutions are in other states. A person at that critical point may likely give up after the first rejection, and that is why AccessDirect does this work. Every person seeking recovery has the right to access appropriate timely treatment.
Paige began this work by making these connections himself until his wife, Cynthia Langlais Paige, helped him establish the 501-c3 nonprofit, AccessDirect Recovery Network. Now they have a team of volunteers on the phones and providing transportation. Paige says, “Cynthia is the brains and the CEO of all things that are Access Direct. I am the connection – the person with lived experience.”
All volunteers who answer the phone have lived experience so they can build the relationships necessary to gain the trust of the callers and connect them with the help they need including residential treatment and supporting all pathways to recovery. This vital human connection over the phone – something a directory or digital locator lacks – can often provide the caller the confidence to follow through with seeking treatment. Because the AccessDirect Recovery Network phones are active 24/7, they are more likely to have a solid assessment of availability of resources at any given time.
To contact AccessDirect Recovery Network for connection to resources, call (207) 482-3835. Donations of volunteer hours and/or money can be made on the AccessDirect Recovery Network Facebook page.
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