A resource fair called ‘Discovery Recovery’ set at WesBanco Arena

WHEELING — Those in the Wheeling area suffering from drug addiction and their family and friends are welcome to enter a “judgment-free zone” to find resources and learn more information at an upcoming event.

A resource fair titled “Discover Recovery” is set for 3-7 p.m. May 22 at WesBanco Arena, local officials and organization leaders announced at a press conference Thursday. The event is designed to help people make a plan for what to do when someone suffering from addiction decides they want to seek help and enter treatment. It’s also for people experiencing addiction themselves or others who just want to learn more about the subject, officials said at the press conference.

“If you care about someone who is struggling with addiction, this is a place … to try and figure out what might best meet their needs for the person that they love and make a plan,” Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday said. “There’s a very special window of time when someone says to themself ‘I want to change my life, I want to turn away from substance abuse.’ Having that plan of action, that’s really important and critical for that person to continue on their path of health.”

The event was made possible through a partnership between the Community Impact Coalition, the city of Wheeling and the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley. Scatterday, Martha Polinsky of BreakThru at Reynolds Memorial Hospital and Mary Hess, Unity Center executive director, worked together to organize the event.

Resources available at Discover Recovery will include information on detox and medical withdrawal management, facts about different treatment options and access to recovery services and support groups. In addition, the event will offer Naloxone training sessions at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. from the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department that will also distribute doses of the medication, used to treat opioid overdose. Recovery coaches will be present at the event as well, Polinsky said.

Polinsky, a care coordinator for the hospital’s medical withdrawal management service, said the event was conceived to fill in gaps for helping the community amid an ongoing opioid epidemic.

“This is so that family members can prepare themselves, or even that person who is suffering from substance dependence can also be here,” she said. “We want this to be the place for you to come, and even if you have drug dependence, you can get resources for when you’re ready.”

The fair also aims to help people overcome barriers they might face in finding treatment, whether that be insurance issues or figuring out what treatment center to use, Polinsky explained.

“We’re trying to cover all bases,” she said.

Scatterday said the event was modeled after similar ones held to combat the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts communities. She and others hope to hold more Discover Recovery events on a regular basis in the future.

“We want to be about being places of hope and help,” Scatterday said. “Come and get care. Come and just ask questions. Come and be around others in a judgment-free place where you are accepted, you are welcomed, you are loved and you are cared for.”

At Thursday’s press conference, several officials and leaders shared their thoughts about the event and efforts to curb addiction and overdoses in the Ohio Valley.

“This is event is so important for our community because we need to arm our community with the resources for when our loved ones are ready to go to treatment,” Hess said. “When loved ones do come to us and say ‘I need help, I can’t do this anymore,’ it’s our duty to be prepared for that moment.”

Mayor Glenn Elliott thanked Scatterday and others for their work on the project. He also noted that Wheeling has seen 56 overdoses and several fatalities so far this year.

“We all recognize it as a problem, but it still happens and there’s no easy solutions to it,” he said of drug addiction. “This program is giving the opportunity to kind of think more holistically about a problem that is so difficult to solve and to give more people options and reducing the demand for substances ruining their lives.”

State Sen. William Ihlenfeld recognized Wheeling and local organizations for their work in trying to counteract the opioid epidemic.

“The city is being proactive,” he said. “It’s thinking outside of the box. It’s not burying its head in the sand. It’s getting out in front of it. I commend the city for what it’s doing.”

Also in attendance was Bob Hansen, executive director of the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy, who similarly thanked those involved.

“It’s great to be here to see you all taking the lead,” Hansen said.

Polinsky, who previously worked as a coordinator at the Community Impact Coalition, added that she’s proud of the ongoing collaboration on the issue of treating addiction.

“I’ve been doing this for nine years, and just to see this community come together and to work together the way it is with the state, county and the city and all these organizations involved, it’s great to see and it’s a whole new way that we want to be able to address this,” she said.