By Norm Cannada
SENECA — Eight years into recovery from an opioid-use disorder himself, Michael Crouch has found a passion to help those with alcohol and drug issues get into recovery — and stay and thrive there.
“My life has evolved and gotten better and better the longer that I’ve committed and stayed in long-term recovery,” said Crouch, now married to his wife, Anna, with a 15-month-old son, Lane. “Recovery has been awesome.”
Now, he’s working to help others find that same joy in recovery. Crouch is a certified peer recovery support specialist and serves as project coordinator for FAVOR Oconee (Faces and Voices of Recovery), which is operated through FAVOR Greenville.
“We’re a recovery community organization to provide an inclusive style of recovery services,” he said. “We support all pathways of recovery — whatever works for the individual. They may have a faith-based background and their recovery is based in Jesus, or somebody may take medication. We help people figure out what works best for them. The goal is to get you into recovery.”
After working for two years with Behavioral Health Services of Pickens County, Crouch was hired in December 2020 to begin the FAVOR program in Oconee County. He started providing services in January.
“My goal specifically is to engage people involved in the criminal justice system — drug court probation and parole, people recently released from the detention center,” he said. “In order to do that, you have to have infrastructure — meetings. We’ve developed a community by having meetings and having events that are called Adventures in Recovery. We’ve played putt-putt and have gone hiking, things like that. We also have volunteer recovery coaches.”
Recovery meetings are scheduled from 6-7 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Seneca Presbyterian Church Chapter House. Another recovery group geared toward people in the Utica mill community is on Mondays at 1 p.m. at Seneca Church of God of Prophecy, located at 1016 Overbrook Drive. FAVOR Oconee has meetings there on the first and third Mondays of the month, and Oconee Addiction Recovery Solutions (OARS) meets there on the second and fourth Mondays. There is also a FAVOR Oconee meeting for families on Thursdays online through Zoom.
In addition to providing help for those with a substance-use disorder, Crouch said FAVOR Oconee also works with families, offering education, support such as stress management and crisis intervention.
“We work with the family as much as we do the individual, because we believe if we can help the family member get well, that’s one of the best ways you help the individual,” he said. “We believe it’s a family issue, a family disease. The family needs support as well. They feel a lot of shame and they don’t have a place to talk about it.”
Unlike other similar recovery organizations, Crouch said “FAVOR doesn’t believe in the concept of hitting rock bottom.”
“We believe in providing family members the ability to support their loved one the way that works best for them,” he said. “For the loved one, they may need to set boundaries and say ‘You can’t live here.’ The same way we look at recovery as individualized, we look at family recovery as individualized.”
Methamphetamine, opioids, alcohol
Crouch said methamphetamine, opioids and alcohol are the most common struggles among people he has worked with in Oconee County.
“We don’t talk a lot about alcohol,” he said. “People aren’t being arrested for drinking alcohol, unless they have a DUI or something, but there are people in this county who struggle with alcohol. I think we forget about that because there’s not overdoses. You don’t hear about alcohol as much as meth and opioids.”
NARCAN in Utica
In addition to support group meetings in the Utica community, Crouch and other FAVOR Oconee volunteers meet with people in the community on Monday mornings during a meal outside Ann Hope United Methodist. As an approved provider of Narcan through the state, Crouch said FAVOR provides it to people in the community after giving them instructions in how to use it properly.
“We like to get out as much Narcan as we can over in Utica just to try to reduce overdose deaths,” he said. “We would rather people have Narcan and get it over there to places that need it. We take resources to that community, because a lot of times, people don’t leave that community. We’re going to go meet them where they’re at.”
For more information about FAVOR Oconee, call (864) 430-1802 or (864) 280-5579.
[email protected] | (864) 973-6680