MOUNT VERNON — Mental Health Recovery for Licking and Knox counties offers overdose survivors the chance at a new life through their overdose recovery team.

The program was started about two years ago through the Medication Assisted Treatment – Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction, MAT-PDOA, program according Emily Morrison, the community relations coordinator for Mental Health Recovery for Licking and Knox (MHR). This grant address the opioid misuse and addiction problems by enhancing or expanding treatment services and provide MAT and recovery services that are accessible, effective, comprehensive, coordinated and evidence-based. Licking and Knox county each has their own separate teams but operates under the same grant.

“As of June of 2019, the total number of people served by this grant has been 74,” Morrison said.

While that number seems low, the grant originally only covered those who were addicted to opioids which are relatively low in Knox and Licking County. A new grant, the State Opioid Response grant given to MHR is allowing them to expand the program to help those addict to meth. The federal grant is through The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and will allow the overdose recovery team to grow to serve more of those in need.

“This is not an emergency team,” Morrison said. “They still need to receive emergency services.”

After the individual receives medical care, a overdose recovery team reaches out to them, Morrison explained. The team consists of a law enforcement officer who is doing community outreach, a social worker, and a representative from the Main Place. The social worker will either come from the Freedom Center in Knox County or Licking County Alcoholism Prevention Program (LAPP).

The Main Place is a peer support center that offers services to the community. The peer supporters are people who have dealt with mental illness or addiction issues in their pass and are in recovery. They worked towards keeping people on the recovery path.

Morrison explained that the peer supporters provide support that can fall through at times. This happens because people get scared, they’re not ready or they don’t have transportation, meaning they don’t always go straight from an overdose and medical treatment at a hospital to a recovery service.

“This overdose response team is there to make those connections and kind of fill that gap to help people,” Morrison said.

Alexa Oder is apart of peer support services the center offers and is involved with the overdose recovery team.

“The part peer support plays in the outreaches is kind of someone who can connect with the person who is struggling,” Oder said in an email with the News. “Peer supporters have lived experience.”

Peer supporters get referrals from The Freedom Center and will coordinate a day when they and their team can go outreach to the individual who is struggling, Oder continued to explain. They see where the person is at and can offer different resources to that person. This includes metal health services, drug addiction services, treatment centers, and a place where they can get a free meal if needed.

“We leave them with a bunch of information and numbers for when they are ready to move forward,” she said. If they don’t hear back from after a couple of weeks, the support group reaches out to them again.

“We reach out again to show that we care and to see if maybe they are having any barriers that we may be able to help with,” Oder said.

There’s a few ways people can connect with this resource, according to Morrison. Either LAPP or the Freedom Center make referrals for people in the program, or the family or individual can request the overdose response team through Knox 211, a crisis hotline program through Pathways of Central Ohio. Knox 211 is available either through calling or texting.

This program will be one of several services offered through Mental Health Recovery that will be highlighted in a short film. “Not So Different,” the title of the short film, will show how to access these services and what people can expect from them. The film will be shot locally in Knox County and is set to be ready at the start of next year. The short film will be split into three 15 minute segments meant for viewing as part of a discussion group.

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Jamie Holland: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @



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