By STEVE FREKER
MALDEN — The new class of 28 recovery coaches is set to embark on its mission to support addicts seeking to free themselves from substance abuse.
Malden Overcoming Addiction (MOA) hosted its second Recovery Coach Academy in four days of extensive, eight-hour training over two weekends at Malden High School. Run by the Connecticut Center for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) and funded by the city of Everett, the new coaches include Malden, Everett and Medford residents.
The first MOA graduation in March certified 24 new recovery coaches.
“We can help a lot of people and give them a better chance,” said MOA President Paul Hammersley, who has headed up a grassroots local and regional effort to educate communities on substance abuse and work to erase the stigma surrounding those affected by the epidemic. Hammersley and others founded MOA in August 2015 and the movement is fast approaching its second anniversary.
With the addition of this newest class, MOA, in conjunction with the CCAR training group, has certified more than 50 volunteer recovery coaches in this area, including residents from many communities.
Hammersley defined a recovery coach as someone “interested in promoting recovery by removing barriers and obstacles and serving as a personal guide and mentor for individuals seeking or already in recovery from drug and/or substance abuse.”
Participants of the most recent recovery coach academy took part in a 30-hour course and received training on how to assist before, during, after, or instead of treatment. Some subjects taught include motivational interviewing, ethical boundaries, and how to create a wellness plan.
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson is a strong supporter of MOA and recovery coach training. “The mayor has backed us from the start, along with many other city and state officials and that has helped us get the word out and help those who need assistance and their families,” said Hammersley.
The MOA leader said the group’s primary and most ambitious goal is bringing a fully-staffed addiction recovery center to Malden, which would serve residents of communities from Somerville to Revere and Lynn and beyond, continues to gather steam.
The recovery coaches who are now certified to assist those suffering from addiction will be available at all times at the center.
Malden-Melrose state Sen. Jason Lewis (Dem., 5th Middlesex), and other legislators support siting a recovery center in Malden. Funding for at least three, new recovery centers is in the state budget and the state Department of Public Health (DPH) reviews center requests for funding. Hammersley said addicts coming out of rehab or detoxification have few, if any, local or regional resources to take a legitimate step toward achieving the goal of staying drug and substance-free.
“They have nowhere to go and no one to talk to and we must fill that need,” Hammersley said.
MOA wants The Bridge Recovery Center job training, recovery meetings, Narcan training, yoga and classes on how to operate and use computers.
The closest recovery center to Malden and the North Shore, of the 10 now operating in Massachusetts, is Devine Recovery Center in South Boston, 14 miles and many MBTA stops from Malden.