Supporting Peers in Recovery - ADAMH Board of Franklin County

Supporting Peers in Recovery

In honor of Men’s Health Month, we’re sharing the story of Ken Russell who is one of the new faces of our Help, Healing, Health and Hope campaign. Ken was able to combat his drug addiction through a men’s residential treatment program, and now he’s helping other men do the same.

Ken first tried to address his addiction to heroin in 2019. He was able to get into a program at Community for New Direction thanks to funding from the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH). Ken recalls not having insurance or being able to afford treatment, so the funding is what enabled him to try to get clean for the first time. “I didn’t have to worry about any cost. ADAMH covered everything,” said Ken.

Like many who struggle with addiction, his path to recovery was not linear. He spent the next couple years in and out of rehab facilities. In December 2021, Ken found himself at another ADAMH-funded provider, House of Hope for Recovery. He spent five and a half months in one of their men’s residential treatment programs. “I really applied myself this time and listened to what they told me I needed to do,” said Ken. “I was just at the point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and living the way I was.”

Ken got a sponsor and worked his way through a 12-step program. “For some reason, it worked,” he said. “The staff at the House of Hope is amazing. They’ve all been through the program. They’re all in long-term recovery. For me, it really helped having someone who could relate to what I was going through.”

After graduating from the program in May 2022, Ken moved into one of House of Hope’s recovery houses, and they helped him find a job. He held that job for a few months, and then House of Hope approached him about working for them. At first it was just part-time on the weekends, but it soon progressed to a full-time position. Ken now works with the men’s short-term residential program and has his Peer Recovery Supporter certification. House of Hope is encouraging him to further his education and get a counseling degree, too.

Ken is humble about his ability to help others and beyond grateful for the opportunity. You can hear the sincerity in his voice when he’s talking. “It doesn’t feel like work. I just tell people what I’ve went through,” said Ken.

When clients come up to him to thank him and tell him that he inspired them to go to long-term rehab or made something finally click for them, that’s when it becomes very real and yet still unbelievable for Ken. “It’s crazy that someone who was addicted to heroin 16 months ago can be helping somebody who is addicted to the same thing or another drug or alcohol.”

Are you in need of mental health or addiction services? Search ADAMH’s provider network for affordable care. If you are in crisis now, call or text 988.

Interested in becoming a peer supporter like Ken? Learn more about Mental Health America of Ohio’s Peer Recovery Supporter program, which ADAMH helps fund.

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