Community Success StoriesWhat follows is a sampling of people whose lives we have touched. These stories are true, and illustrative of the uniquely comprehensive work that we do within our small agency.
"Jim" is a single, 51 year-old man. Although he was diagnosed with a mental illness, drinking for Jim had always been an equally significant problem. Like many others, Jim had found it very difficult to accept his mental illness and, because of that, he frequently stopped taking the psychiatric medication that had been prescribed for him, which made his symptoms worse. Because Jim so frequently turned to alcohol for relief, his story is a lot about how he used our Substance Abuse Services to overcome his addiction. For although Programs For People (PFP) was specifically founded to serve the needs of those recovering from mental illness, it later became apparent to the staff that more than half of the clients we were working with were also either currently or recently addicted, or "Dually Diagnosed." For that reason, in keeping with our philosophy of treating the "whole person," we added substance abuse services (as we had employment services) to our program, in direct response to the needs of our client population.
Jim arrived at PFP after being hospitalized, having stopped his medication. He now tells us that at that time, "I had no desire to stop drinking. I was living in a shelter ...I was delusional. The medication was just starting to take effect. I thought that a radio station was doing a hate call-in show on me." Since then, Jim has been utilizing a variety of PFP services (sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little). Now, looking back, here is what Jim says about Programs For People and what has changed in his life.
"My last relapse was in 1997. There was an intervention and that did it. Someone in the program alerted my case manager. I did 90 meetings (AA) in 90 days. That helped cement my desire to stop drinking. Dual Diagnosis and Substance Abuse groups [at PFP] were the 'meat and potatoes' of the whole thing. Listening to other people, the mix of people helped. I could see where I didn't want to go and which lifestyles I wanted to emulate. I have 9 years of sobriety since then. I count myself lucky. I will never go off meds (his psychiatric medication) again. I realize the value of it."
"My goal was getting volunteer work. My counselor helped me. We used to have a group where we talked about jobs. I talked about the kind of job I wanted, the problems I had at work. It was a good group. I got my volunteer job in 1997 and I still have the same job. I volunteer about 3-4 times a week, during my lunch break. In 2001, I became employed. Programs For People was very instrumental in getting that job. I hadn't worked since 1987 because of my mental health and substance abuse issues. My prospective employer was impressed with my consistent participation at PFP. My employer is the right one for me. They have principles, plus the right positive environment for me. They were very interested and counted my volunteer job (that I got through PFP) as work experience. Recently, I got my 5 year pin for 5 years of dedicated service to my employer. It was the right job."
Now sober, employed, and living in his own apartment, when asked what he would say to others considering the program he said, "If you want to work on your substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and personal achievement, you may find it as helpful as I have...There is a good relationship between staff and clients- not like an iron wall between them- good fellowship."