Rescue Mission's recovery program uses holistic approach

Program helps people overcome addiction

ROANOKE, Va. - In addition to providing its guests food and shelter, the Roanoke Rescue Mission also offers a recovery program to help people overcoming addiction from across our area.

Wes Marshburn is a regular visitor to the Roanoke Rescue Mission, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. He hasn't forgotten what his life was like before he knew this place.

"I was hopeless, and I didn't have any other places to turn," Marshburn said.

Marshburn said he battled drug addiction and tried several programs to get sober - but went through several relapses.

"They just wanted to use other substances or put me on another substance to kind of combat my addiction, and it just never worked out for me," he said.

Motivated to be a better husband and father, Marshburn enrolled in the Rescue Mission's residential recovery program. The program takes a holistic approach, covering more than the medical aspects of recovering from addiction.

"It's not just, 'Oh, I have this addiction, and this is how I beat it,'" explained Helen Ferguson, chief programs officer. "But it's, 'I have this addiction. Who am I now, and who am I becoming, and what am I going to be when I leave here?'"

The program takes just over a year to complete, Ferguson said. It requires participants to take classes not just about addiction, but also in subjects like math and writing to provide job skills, she explained.

In addition, all participants volunteer around the Rescue Mission and get involved with a church to help strengthen their spiritual life, Ferguson said.

"To watch them at graduation when they've got tears in their eyes, to watch their family...and to be able to make that difference and to be that person that they never thought they would be is just an amazing experience," Ferguson said.

"It's a lot of work," Marshburn said. "It's difficult, but it's very rewarding."

Marshburn graduated last year and continues encouraging people trying to overcome addiction.

"They'll look back on this as a stepping stone to hopefully their recovery and a great life ahead of them," he said.

About 60 people are currently enrolled in the residential recovery program, Ferguson said.

All participants are also required to sign up for a 12-step program, according to the Rescue Mission.

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