NANTICOKE — Offering proof that addiction recovery programs can change lives, John Fabiseski stole the show Monday during an announcement of a new program at Luzerne County Community College.
Recovery specialist training programs such as the one being launched this fall at LCCC are the reason “My wife has her husband back, why my children have a father back.”
Fabiseski got a standing ovation after his brief speech near the end of a news conference in the college’s Campus Center. He followed a string of college and state officials praising the school’s new, two-semester program, officially dubbed the “Human Services Diploma Specializing in Addiction Recovery.”
The program requires a total of 16 credits, about two semesters of work, though LCCC Human Services coordinator Heather Jones noted it is designed to be completed at the student’s pace.
The goal is to “prepare students for work in the drug and alcohol field specializing in peer support recovery.” Completing the program prepares a student interested in getting a Certified Recovery Specialist credential from the state.
LCCC President Thomas Leary opened the brief media event by citing the breadth of the current opioid crisis, noting it impacts people from all demographics. Offering the new program, he said, reinforces the college’s goal to “commit ourselves one person at a time to help those who need our help.”
Raphael Barishansky, the state deputy secretary of health planning and assessment, called the new program “the first of its kind in the state,” and stressed the value of those in recovery helping those entering recovery. “Everybody deserves the opportunity to get into treatment, and see possibilities in recovery.”
State Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Jennifer Smith noted the state has garnered $26.5 million in federal funds each of the last two years since Gov. Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency regarding the opioid crisis, and that having those in recovery become specialist to help others has worked well. “They have lived through what the people entering treatment will go through. They are proof recovery is possible.”
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Twp., said he looks forward “to congratulating the first class of students” completing the program, and urged those struggling with addiction to call the state addiction hotline at 1-800-662-4357.
William Stauffer introduced himself as a person in long-term recovery since 1996. He is executive director of the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance, which worked with LCCC in developing the program curriculum, and said statistics show those who stay in recovery for five years are far less likely to ever relapse. Staying in recovery, he added, saves society costs later by reducing crime and improving a communities housing value.
But it was Fabiseski who drew the biggest round of applause. Now a human services major at LCCC, the 46-year-old said he found his way to recovery after others helped him see the value of experience gained from recovery itself.
“That changed my life,” he said, because it helped him realize “that I was worth something, that I had a condition that could be treated.”
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish