Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR)
The Connecticut Community Center for Addiction and Recovery strives to “put a positive face on recovery” by connecting Eastern students to local residents who are recovering from a life altering drug and/or alcohol addiction. Students have the opportunity to assist CCAR members in applying for jobs, building their resume, practicing interviewing skills, etc. Additionally, students will be able to lead workshops that apply to his or her major. Available volunteer shifts are available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 12:30-2:30 PM. *Note: In order to volunteer at CCAR, volunteers must attend a training session and complete a background check. Training is provided to volunteers before they begin attending the program.
By: Sarah Emerson and Ashley Cleary
Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery is a resource with centers in Willimantic, Hartford, and Bridgeport. Its doors are open to those who are in recovery, and friends, family or allies of those who are battling addictions such as: drugs (heroin, cocaine, marijuana, pills), alcohol, gambling, sex, etc. When someone walks into the center, they are greeted by a volunteer asking, “How can I help you in your recovery today?” People come to CCAR looking for support and peers to relate to. For instance, CCAR has support services including All Recovery Meetings, Reiki, recovery coaching, poetry groups, craft groups, and more. Volunteers are available whether someone needs help building a resume, compl
eting a job application, or simply a listening ear – making the center a great asset to the community. It is beneficial that the center engages with the community and offers a resource to recovery. CCAR aims to help people meet their recove
ry goals and accepts any pathway to recovery. For some people recovery may mean staying clean and sober, while others may detox on Methadone. The center places value on recovery potential and believes you are in recovery if you say you are.
Ashley and I attend CCAR on a weekly basis. We have many duties that we carry out, such as running an Arts & Crafts group. Every Monday, recovering addicts join us to do varying arts and crafts-type activities. Crafts that we have done include friendship bracelets and relaxation jars. One week Ashley made a tree out of brown paper and taped it to the wall. Each leaf for the tree was made by people attending our craft group. We colored in, decorated and wrote what we are grateful for on our individual leaves. The homemade tree is a festive, colorful, positive asset to CCAR’s wall decorations. Not only do these activities give people something positive to do with their free time, but they provide a creative outlet to cope with the stressors of recovery. During this time we also have group discussion about addiction, recovery, and the like.
When Ashley and I are not overseeing our craft group, we decorate the center for the various holidays throughout the semester. Together, we’ve made the center look more welcoming and fun. For Halloween, we made colorful posters inviting the public to CCAR’s Halloween Party. We hung spider webs and skeletons to get our guests in the Ha
lloween spirit! It was nice to see addicts bring their families into an inviting atmosphere where they could safely celebrate the holiday.
Also, we often make TRS phone calls. TRS stands for Telephone Recovery Support. Addicts in recovery voluntarily sign up for this program. On a weekly basis, we call people to discuss their progress and talk through any setbacks they may experience. Most of the people we call are extremely grateful and appreciate having someone take the time to reach out to them. I have learned that not everyone going through recovery has family or friends who support them during such a challenging time in their lives and it’s important that they know there are people who care about them.
I would describe my time spent volunteering at CCAR as fun and educational. Ashley and I have bonded with, and made friends with the other volunteers and people who come in to use CCAR’s services. Listening to the stories of these individuals has been eye-opening and informative. We have learned a lot about the struggles that people go through while trying to recover from the disease of addiction. For example, finding housing is an issue for many as they transition out of halfway or sober houses.
Every weekday CCAR holds an All Recovery Meeting from 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM. Like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, the All Recovery Meeting is a group of men and women who share their experience, hope, and strength with one another. At All Recove
ry Meetings, people suffering from any type of addiction are welcome. One person leads the meeting; they choose a topic to focus on such as finding happiness or maintaining relationships. The rest of the group sits in a circle, taking turns contributing to the conversation.
The first time I sat in on one of these meetings, I was heartbroken. The people who shared their stories were so open and vulnerable. They spoke of their painful experiences; many of them grateful to now be in recovery. The majority of the people in attendance were positive and uplifting, which I really admired. It is so nice to sit at these meetings and hear people talk about turning their lives around. Ashley and I are happy to know that recovery is possible! While these people will be “addicts” for the rest of their lives, with a lot of willpower, they can become sober and stay that way.
Volunteering at CCAR has been a positive experience overall. CCAR has made me interested in possibly working in a field with addiction recovery, or at least humanity and helping others. I have learned to be patient and listen without judgment. CCAR taught me to be conscious of others; you never know what someone is going through. As a volunteer, it is my job to stand by addicts whether they’re having a good or bad day. I would recommend volunteering at CCAR if you are empathetic for and would like to help those suffering from addiction.