Three adult women standing facing the camera with their arms around each other, they are all smiling and wearing t-shirts with information about the rally for recovery walk.

January 2023

Dear friends of Recovery Is Happening,

Last week, the Board of Directors and I worked with a consultant to begin a new strategic planning process for Recovery Is Happening’s Recovery Community Organization. This led to reflections about the past year that I would like to share with you. In 2022, we faced challenges due to the opioid crisis and the other painful realities of substance use disorder, and we also shared many beautiful successes.

While in many respects the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are delighted to share that more and more in-person recovery meetings are happening at our Rochester center, including traditional 12 step support groups as well as SMART Recovery, Wellbriety, Soul Recovery, and SANE Recovery. And, more people than ever before have been using our onsite gym, including a weekly “CardioBlast” where staff and recoverees get together for some high intensity workouts. Our gym is open to everyone in recovery and is free to use! We also host events at our Rochester center including the Jolly Trolly, St. Patrick’s Day, Game Nights, with more to come this summer. 

We have welcomed 8 new Peer Recovery Support Specialists that we have highlighted or will be highlighting – our “Staff Stars!” – in our e-mail newsletter (sign up here!) that gets sent out to about 1,700 people each month. While most of our Peers are based in Olmsted county, thanks to the support of the United Way of Mower County and Hormel, we have a Peer who is quite active now in Mower county, too!

Check out the January issue of our email for details including an infographic about our latest program funded by the Behavioral Health Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services: Deepening Our Roots: Growing an Interconnected and Sustainable Recovery Community (“the Roots program”). Through the Roots program we will be building more connections with other community organizations to reach and better support people seeking recovery from substance use disorders. We will also be offering more targeted supports for people who want to build life or work skills through the Roots program. A major focus of this program will also be growth as an organization in terms of our equity and inclusion efforts. 

For the last year,  since I became Recovery Is Happening’s executive director, I have been committed to ensuring our high stress jobs do not take too much out of us. That is to say, we want a workplace culture built on trust and communication as well as one that emphasizes work-life balance. One important step in this direction was Cheryl Otto’s work as a supervisor for our Peers. Cheryl provides support and guidance and helps our Peers notice if they are “doing too much.” The work our Peers do with recoverees is inspiring and joy-filled and can also be heartbreaking. Substance use disorders are cunning, baffling, and powerful, indeed. Our Board of Directors welcomed three new members in 2022 and have been an amazing support for our organization’s continued growth.

For our staff we have brought in consultants to help build stress management skills. We also hope to create a Restorative Wellness Lounge in our expanded office space later this year to benefit staff and recoverees alike. This room will be comfortable and relaxing, filled with plants and offering healthy snacks for staff to rest and rejuvenate throughout the work day. Recoverees can meet with their Peer Recovery Support Specialists privately in the lounge, as well. If you would like to help us make this space a reality, we always welcome donations!

Our Strong Start Housing program continues to serve recoverees living in sober living homes who participate in Recovery Is Happening’s Peer-infused intensive outpatient treatment program. 65% of participants in Strong Start Housing who worked with our Peers consistently have been staying sober! Program participants receive rental assistance for the first three months in the recovery homes and work with our Peers to build their recovery capital with amazing results. Check out this wonderful summary of recovery capital offered by Faces & Voices in Recovery: 

Last fall we brought back our Rally for Recovery and enjoyed the amazing turnout and overwhelming support from our community. Check out the photos! If you are interested in sponsoring the Rally this upcoming September, like Adult & Teen Challenge Minnesota, Doc’s Recovery House, NUWAY, Rochester Chevrolet, and Valley Medical & Wellness did in 2022, please let me know!

Our peers met on a one-on-one basis with recoverees over 10,400 times in 2022, providing much needed personalized recovery support serving more than 150 recoverees. They also made over 6,400 telephone recovery support calls last year. We participated in more than 240 meetings or activities involving nearly 6,400 individuals.

So much is happening for Recovery Is Happening, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community. So, thank you. And, if you know of anyone who needs support in their recovery, please send them our way.

With gratitude,

Jenna Christensen
executive director

two people sitting, facing away from the camera, one person's head on the other person's shoulder

By Sarah Blanshan, APRN, CNP

Someone you love is struggling with substance abuse disorder (SUD). You know because they are continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol despite the harmful effects it is having on their life and relationships. Now you are wondering, “How can I help?”

The good news is that recovery is possible. And you can have a significant impact in helping your loved one reclaim their life.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Speak directly to them about your concerns.
  • Research treatment options available in your area.
  • Recommend they get a chemical health assessment.
  • Schedule or stage an intervention.
  • Take advantage of your influence in their life.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Speak Directly to Them about Your Concerns

Pick a time that is good for both of you, avoiding times when either of you is tired, stressed, or angry. Make sure you are in a private place so you can both talk freely.

Ask them how they are doing. Let them know why you are concerned, being direct but kind in your language. Listen without judgment to any feelings they express.

Offer to help them get started and keep an optimistic tone to your conversation.

Research Treatment Options in Your Area

Having some information ahead of time about what treatment options are available in your area may be helpful when you discuss your concerns. Some options include outpatient or inpatient treatment, residential programs, medication therapy, and recovery housing.

You don’t need to know the ins-and-outs of each program, as each one will have staff to guide you in obtaining the best fit. But knowing there are options can help convey hope and courage in seeking recovery.

Recommend They Get a Chemical Health Assessment

A chemical health assessment is an evaluation by a trained assessor to determine if substance use is a problem and how severe it is. It may also be required to enter some treatment programs or to receive financial assistance.

Schedule or Stage an Intervention

An intervention is an intentional meeting when people who care about the person with SUD come together to present their concerns and ask the person to pursue treatment. It is best if an intervention is carefully planned and developed with input from a trained counselor or professional familiar with SUD.

Take Advantage of Your Influence in Their Life

You may or may not have much influence in your loved one’s life, but if you do, you should use it to encourage them to seek recovery. This may involve some difficult actions, such as not helping them financially or limiting their access to family members until they start treatment.

A New Beginning

Every day, individuals in our community discover that recovery is happening and is possible for them. Keep these tools in mind as you help those you care about enter recovery and begin a new life.



Chemical Health Assessments. Recovery is Happening.

Drug addiction (substance use disorder). Mayo Clinic. addiction (substance use disorder) – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Getting Your Loved One Into Treatment. Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge.

Helping a Loved One Dealing with Mental And/Or Substance Use Disorders. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Intervention. Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge.

Recovery is Happening.