The STOP(Strong Through Our Plan) Coalition has been helping folks in the community who struggle with addiction since the late 1990s. “STOP started as a group of concerned citizens because there had been some overdose deaths in the area. It evolved from there,” says Angie Ward-Sparks, Executive Director of the STOP Coalition.
Preventing Addiction From a Young Age
STOP is actually the “prevention side”, accompanied by Crossroads, the "recovery side," which started in 2009. STOP “educates the community, as well as every Mingo County Schools student, on prevention of the first use of alcohol and other drugs,” Angie says. STOP works alongside partners throughout the community to promote what she calls “overall wellness”, including mental health awareness, substance use disorder education, suicide prevention, bullying education and prevention.
Josh Murphy, a Regional Community Prevention Liaison with STOP, works hard to help the program meet grant goals, provide technical assistance, training, and education. Showing how widespread STOP’s work is, Josh works throughout Cabell, Wayne, Mingo, Mason, Logan, Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Putnam, and Lincoln counties.
Helping Folks Find Recovery
Crossroads, which aids in recovery, runs a 12-bed residential recovery home for adult women in the area. “We use a peer support model, where consumers, with staff support, share the upkeep of their shared home, do their own grocery shopping and meal prep, all while working on an intense recovery program,” Angie says.
Residents at Crossroads take part in special groups and online courses that help them learn life skills, like parenting, self awareness, and job readiness, as well as more individualized courses. As they near graduation from the one-year program, they transition into the MORE (My Ongoing Recovery Experience), an evidence-based addiction recovery program.
Proud to Serve the Community
For Angie, the most important thing is offering resources to the community, particularly the early education of children in the area and supporting families. “Of course, the recovery residence is our other major focus. We have served over 290 women to date, and have seen numerous success stories,” she says. “We have seen families reunited, children brought out of or kept from the foster system, and 9 healthy babies born free of neonatal abstinence syndrome. Many women go on to work in recovery support roles in their communities. One life saved or family reunited would be worth it all, and we have been blessed to see many.”
STOP and similar organizations offer a much needed resource to the region, Angie says. “Our mission is so important because of the epidemic of substance use disorder that we continue to face,” she says. “STOP is a resource for almost any problem a family could face, and if we don’t have the resource or service needed directly, we will find a partner that does.”
For Josh, the best part of his job is the people he gets to meet. “Both the people I get to work with, and working in the community. I also love seeing someone have an ‘aha!’ moment when I’m leading a workshop or training.”
Angie is proud of the work they do for the community. “We work hard to educate and offer support to anything that keeps our communities living healthy, drug free lives, as united families.”