As more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and as businesses re-open, Cumberland Heights is taking a responsible approach to returning to the traditions that make our center home to countless people who found their initial hope here. One of those traditions is a soft- reopening of in person Aftercare! Since Cumberland Heights’ beginnings in 1966, alumni and family members of our program have returned to campus on a weekly basis to participate in Aftercare meetings. This opportunity provide renewal, guidance and fellowship for our returning alumni.
Aftercare Director, Johnny Rosen says, “I’ve been involved in my Aftercare group for 25 years. It’s more than just a meeting. Many us have dinner together before group, some bringing newcomers who soon find their home within the group. And even after the meeting, a bunch of us hang out after to rehash the great takeaways of the meeting. It truly is a family.”
During the pandemic, Cumberland Heights offered these interactive sessions via Zoom, and we will continue to use video technology going forward in order to reach those who are unable to reach campus, and those who live beyond our local service area.
“I think that for so many, the attachment to the facility and the patient population is just as important as the connection to the fellowship that Aftercare offers. Keeping in mind that so many of our alumni have experienced Aftercare as a piece of their recovery since the beginning, the sudden transition to virtual meetings was a huge challenge for everyone. The RCA’s, Johnny, and myself still have vivid memories of the day we sat down to call everyone to tell them we were cancelling in-person meetings. It was a very difficult time, even though we thought we would be back to normal in a few weeks. On the other hand, Aftercare has continued to offer that vital link in the chain for our alumni- no matter where they live, and no matter what their transportation situation is like,” said Casey Hyatt, RCA and Alumni Services Coordinator.
In the years leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, Cumberland hosted anywhere from 25 to 50 returning alumni with two or more years recovery into one of our Aftercare meetings onsite at River Road or one of our Outpatient Recovery Centers. No substance abuse treatment center anywhere offers that level of informal support to our patients on top of the excellent professional medical and counseling care provided. Additionally, many more people attend Aftercare with a few months up to two years of recovery, also offering valuable and fresh experience about how to navigate the ups and downs that inevitably occur after treatment when people return to home, community, and work.
We are delighted to announce that we have had a soft re-opening of Aftercare as a step in the direction of reopening more of these sessions wherein current patients can benefit from interaction with former ones, and our alumni can experience the valuable art of giving back in order to retain their gains. On Wednesday, April 28th, four vaccinated Aftercare leaders led two groups of roughly a dozen patients each. We are grateful to our Alumni leaders, Robert A., Mac N., John H., and Steven P. who helped us reach this new milestone. Patients universally praised the opportunity and are asking for more! We will continue at this small pace weekly on Wednesdays and we plan to follow within a few weeks with controlled groups for women, young men, family Aftercare, and ultimately the return of groups on each night Sunday through Wednesday.
“The return of in-person Aftercare means everything. In my experience, the alumni program is a vital component in the treatment process here at CH. Bringing our most valuable asset back to campus feels like the sun is coming out after a long cold night. It is not only good for our patients, but it means the world to our staff, who miss them dearly. Cumberland Heights is not Cumberland Heights without them, “said Hyatt.
“While Aftercare alone may not keep someone clean and/or sober, I have absolutely seen Aftercare become a vital piece for so many alumni’s recovery journeys. I truly believe it is because our Aftercare groups are a unique blend of several things. You will receive the recovery piece you would get in a 12- step meeting; as you are discussing the struggles and the wins of your day-to-day life as you might with a therapist; all while in a laid back group of your peers that you connect with every week and get know on a deeper level. Aftercare helps keep our alumni connected to each other and to their recovery… and did I mention it is free for life? To me that makes the value priceless!” said Alumni Liaison Ashley Jackson.
We are working toward a “Grand Reopening” if conditions allow for October 2nd, 2021, when we plan to resume our annual Sydnor Horn Alumni Picnic. Until then, anyone interested in benefiting from or contributing to these services can contact Johnny Rosen in Aftercare, Casey Hyatt in the Recovery Care Advocacy program, or our Alumni Liaison, Ashley Jackson.
Johnny Rosen: 615-308-9195 or Johnny_Rosen@cumberlandheights.org
Casey Hyatt: 615-218-6802 or Casey_Hyatt@cumberlandheights.org
Ashley Jackson: 615-289-9908 or Ashley_Jackson@cumberlandheights.org