Members of LIRA closing a meeting THRIVE in Suffolk.

On Sunday, one can learn about nonmedicinal healing modalities or relax with Gentle Flow Yoga. On Monday, one can join a Buddhist gathering to practice dharma or another to learn how to manage anger. On holidays, attendees are invited to celebrate in a strictly substance-free environment.

Other workshops and events are scheduled daily throughout the month, including Debtors Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Steps for Vets, and From Anger to Forgiveness. It’s all at THRIVE, Long Island’s first-ever recovery community and outreach center in Hauppauge, which just marked its third anniversary. The recovery center (its acronym stands for “Transformation, Healing, Recovery, Inspiration, Validation and Empowerment)” opened its doors in March 2017 to serve people addicted to substances as well as family and friends who have been affected. 

“Historically, resources have been poured into front-end services, i.e., treatment, and folks would return to their same communities without any back-end support in place to help them sustain recovery,” Long Island Recovery Association (LIRA)  founder and immediate Past President Richard Buckman told the Press. “Often, they would return to drinking or using drugs.” 

The free and nonclinical center was created in response to the heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping across the country. Due to the success of THRIVE Suffolk, and the continued need for services and support on Long Island, THRIVE Nassau, in Westbury, was opened in June 2019. 

THRIVE came about after years of advocacy by LIRA, which first identified the need for such a center in 2001. It became a reality 16 years later, with the help of its partner agencies: Families in Support of Treatment (FIST), Family and Children’s Association (FCA), and the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD). The group was awarded a $1.75 million grant by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) to fund the center for five years.

A One Recovery meeting, created by LIRA, is held every Saturday night at Suffolk THRIVE, and was the most well-attended event at the center in 2019 with more than 1,500 participants. The group welcomes all pathways to recovery including Smart Recovery, 12-Step Programs, faith-based recovery and medication-assisted treatment recovery. Family members and significant others are welcome. 

Buckman said One Recovery was created to meet the need of inclusiveness in the local community. 

“It was a bold and risky step that has transformed the recovery process for many,” he told the Press.

“I go to One Recovery because I can be around healthy like-minded people and share my life problems with others who do not judge me,” said Tommy S., a person in long-term recovery. 

According to its website, THRIVE’s mission is to help individuals and families find, maintain, and strengthen their recovery through peer-based support, navigation assistance, and referral services; interactive educational programs that promote wellness, economic prosperity, and civic engagement: and a safe, welcoming haven for substance-free recreational and social activities.

“Three years into THRIVE’s existence, I think we would agree the results have truly been beyond our collective expectations,” Steve Chassman, executive director of the Long Island Council on Drug Dependence and Alcoholism, told the Press.

Reviews left on the THRIVE website echo those sentiments. One person wrote: “A great place to meet people and forge sober bonds.” Another said: “One-of-a-kind place. A blueprint for helping people in need of recovery support.” Yet another penned: “One of the missing components to effectively combatting the addiction epidemic is a place that is safe and nurturing. THRIVE is the bridge back to life and that missing link.”

Free recovery coaching is available at THRIVE, by appointment, as well.

Buckman said that today there are more than 30 recovery community centers up and running throughout New York State. He added that there were more than 12,000 visits to Suffolk THRIVE in 2019, and at least 900 visits to Nassau THRIVE just in the last quarter of 2019.

“The concept of one individual assisting another to forward their recovery process is the foundation of service, compassion, and community,” Chassman said.

THRIVE can be reached at 631-822-3396, 516-765-7600, or thriveli.org Online meetings can be found on their website.

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