First recovery symposium holds planning meeting

by | May 14, 2018 6:16 pm

   The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) is promoting and supporting the development of recovery communities across Georgia that understand, welcome, encourage, engage, and nurture people who have mental health and substance use challenges. 

   This year, DBHDD’s Office of Recovery Transformation is partnering with the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, and members of 3-4 communities across the state to:

•Organize focused conversations about recovery

•Plan for and host a local recovery symposium, and

•Foster local collaborative relationships for continued development of recovery-oriented communities

   On April 30, members of Georgia Council on Substance Abuse and Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network met with members of Swainsboro and the Emanuel County community at Franklin Memorial Library from 4:00 until 5:45 p.m. to discuss planning a recovery symposium for the area. 

   This meeting started out with a brief introduction of Swainsboro Emanuel Area Recovery Community Help (SEARCH), a newly formed recovery community organization by Charlie Elliott.

   Elliot invited everyone to be a part of the planning for a recovery symposium to take place in the fall of 2018. He then handed the meeting over to Nick Estabrook, RCO development project coordinator for the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.

   Estabrook asked everyone around the room to introduce themselves and tell the group what was right with them today.

   Following this exercise, Estabrook then had people in attendance stand to participate in a dyad. In doing so, the room split up into pairs, each pair consisting of Person A and Person B. Person A was asked to speak to Person B first, without any replies or responses from Person B. Once two minutes had elapsed, they switched roles. This dyad asked everyone to tell a story of what brought them to where they are today. Following the activity, there was a general consensus that everyone was there to support recovery and their life experiences had led them to that exact point.

   Estabrook continued the meeting by giving an explanation of the symposium planning process.

• “Symposia” are defined as meetings or conferences for the discussion of some subject, especially a meeting at which several speakers talk on or discuss a topic before an audience. The importance of community involvement in the planning process was stressed at length with the members in attendance. The group was also provided a sample agenda of what their symposium could look like.

• The symposium planning process can take anywhere from 3-6 months to allow maximum participation for community stakeholders to plan a large recovery advocacy event that focuses on the strengths that already exist in that community around recovery from substance use disorder and mental health challenges.

• Key themes include: sharing local stories of recovery, opportunities for individual development, inclusion, promotion of services that work, and finding ways to improve existing services.

   Members of the group were then asked to acknowledge which parts of the community were represented at this meeting. These areas/organizations included the local library, healthcare services, the police department, behavioral health provider, 12 steps (NA and AA), Alanon, private therapy, the sheriff’s office, Benchmark Health ServicesVeterans Affairs, Emanuel Medical Center (EMC), Statesboro NAMI, the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Wellcare, Beacon HealthEmanuel Counseling Service, and Celebrate Recovery of Metter.

   The members of the planning committee then decided that they would reach out to other stakeholders to be a part of the planning process moving forward. The group was asked to set a date for the next planning meeting and decided on June 4 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Franklin Memorial Library.

   In closing, the group was asked to tell what keeps them hopeful. Their responses were as follows: family, staying in “today”, Swainsboro, friends in recovery, inspirational people, people showing up, knowing they might be able to help someone, fellowship, and mobile care units

   For more information about SEARCH or its fall symposium, email

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