Our mission is to eliminate financial barriers to recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and provide a trusting, welcoming, diverse, and non-judgemental environment for families and individuals seeking help in the St Vrain Valley.
We are all peer support workers and 10 of us are Certified Recovery Coaches. All of us have walked the road to recovery, either personally or with family members. We are available 7 days a week.
On the recovery continuum, we fill a gap in community services by providing no cost comprehensive evidence-based recovery and mental health support focused on increased health and self-knowledge / understanding of participants. As Certified Recovery Coaches, our goals are to:
- Inspire hope that people can and do recover.
- Walk with people on their recovery journeys.
- Dispel myths about what it means to have a mental health condition or substance use disorder.
- Provide self-help education and link people to tools and resources; and
- Support people in identifying their goals, hopes and dreams, and creating a roadmap for getting there.
According to the CDC (8/14/20): “Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April-June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019”. Specifically, anxiety and depression symptoms increased by 31%; substance use started or increased by 13%: trauma / stressor related disorder symptoms increased by 26% and 11% seriously considered suicide.
Additionally, an article in the states shifts in drug availability may also be to blame for increased illicit opioid use deaths; if heroin isn’t easy to access, someone might take fentanyl, which is much stronger. But experts agree based on research and clinical observation that pandemic-related strains, from economic stress and loneliness to general anxiety about the virus, are a major driver for the increase.
“There’s sort of a perfect storm of factors that we know increase drug use,” says William Stoops, PhD, a professor of behavioral science, psychiatry and psychology at the University of Kentucky. “People are more stressed and isolated, so they make unhealthy decisions, including drinking more and taking drugs.” (See January Monitor for more on drinking habits during COVID-19.)
As their stress increases, people may have fewer ways to manage it, which Owens says probably contributes to the uptick in substance misuse. F or example, resilience-promoting activities, like physical activity and social interactions, haven’t been as safe to engage in or easy to access, which can lead some people to start using drugs or use them more often or in greater amounts.
There are also practical pandemic-related reasons for the rise in overdoses. Compton says people are more likely to die when they are using drugs alone, because there’s no one there to call 911 or administer naloxone, an opioid-reversal agent. For those living alone during the pandemic, this isolation presents an obvious risk. And in the early part of the pandemic, it was more difficult for people to seek the medical care they needed for recovery from opioid use because some clinics and community-based organizations decreased their services.
Walsh says that in March and April, Kentucky methadone clinics saw an increase in patients ending treatment and a decrease in new patients starting treatment. “Physicians have been concentrating largely on COVID-19, and medical systems are overwhelmed, so people can’t always access the care they need,” says Stoops. “There’s also a stigma around substance use disorder that keeps people away from treatment, and even more so during a pandemic.”
increased mental health and substance use issues as a result of the pandemic. According to the CDC (8/14/20): “Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April-June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019”. Specifically, anxiety and depression symptoms increased by 31%; substance use started or increased by 13%: trauma / stressor related disorder symptoms increased by 26% and 11% seriously considered suicide.
An article in the Longmont Times Call (9/5/20) states that according to Mental Health Colorado “it wasn’t just depression that dramatically increased (June 20219 -June 2020). Anxiety screenings increased 105% and bipolar screenings increased by 87%. Alcohol and substance use increased 39%.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
AWF believes Inclusivity and Equity are business and workforce imperatives. The following steps have been taken to ensure Inclusivity and Equity:
- Our staff and volunteers have had formal D&I training. Two Board members with relevant life experience have been designated as Diversity Officers: Sonny has experienced discrimination from the civil rights era to today as an African-American man. Claudia brings her life experience gained from living in Longmont most of her life. In her early days she experience blatant discrimination.
- The Diversity Officers oversee all employee / employment decisions as well as decisions outside the organization such as the hiring of contractors.
- Follow Guide Star DEI guidelines.
- Four peer staff members have personally experienced homelessness anywhere from 3 months to over 2 years.
- Four team members are veterans, 2 of which are combat Veterans who experience PTSD.
An element of community engagement efforts to attract typically shy people experiencing homelessness to our facility is our Art as a Therapy wellness program designed to build community and self-esteem. Artwork can be displayed in our on-going community art show in our main building.
It is our intention to meaningfully engage community members. AWF understands that racism undermines mental health. Through our personal connections AWF is uniquely positioned to provide peer to peer support for people to find and follow their own recovery paths, without judgements, expectation, rules, or requirements. AWF removes barriers created by low-income, race, culture, language, and sexual orientation and is committed to anti-racism in every activity. Peer-to-peer level support has no power dynamic and thus fosters an increased sense of control and ability to bring about changes in people’s lives. Peer support is voluntary, equally shared power, strengths focused, transparent, person-driven, and mutual and reciprocal.
AWF peer support workers inspire hope that people can and do recover, walk with people on their recovery journeys, provide self-help education and link people to resources; support people in identifying their goals, hopes and dreams, and creating a roadmap for getting there. For true recovery we strive to help people feel valued and proud of who they are.
Board of Directors
Chairman of the Board
Edward “Sonny” Smith
Claudia A Archuleta