Recovery programs offer bilingual, bicultural staffs

Restart and Esperanza Latina, Rochester substance-abuse programs that each employ a bilingual and bicultural staff, offer intensive group-therapy and individual counseling sessions. Restart also has residential programs.

Many times, the initial steps in combating substance abuse are focused on connecting clients with community resources to address the poverty in which they commonly find themselves, explained Lillian Ayala from Esperanza Latina.

"You cannot tell someone you have to do this or you have to do that but you have no food to eat," she said. "We try to address their basic human needs. It makes it easier for them to stay focused on recovery. … It’s a process."

Recovery entails changing everything in the life of an addict: the way a client dresses and speaks, whom the client socializes with, where he or she goes when not in treatment, and even what route the person takes to get home, Ayala explained.

"(Walking on) Clinton Avenue may be a trigger and they won’t make it home," she said.

William Ortiz has walked the long road to recovery and credits Esperanza Latina for helping him change his ways. But the Puerto Rico native thanks prison for saving his life. In his former life as a drug dealer, Ortiz said that he, too, became an addict. He cannot even fathom the depths of destruction he could have faced had he not been imprisoned and forced to confront his own demons.

"I had everything and lost it all," he said. "But now I am clean … and want nothing to do with that (drugs) ever again."

That commitment to his treatment at Esperanza Latina has turned his life around, he said. He was recently married and has a job as a quality-control inspector for Private Label Foods.

"This is not an easy (process)," he said. "You have to take it seriously if you’re going to change your life."

Taking responsibility for one’s actions also is an essential element of recovery, added Charol Rios from Restart’s Latino Substance Abuse Services. And another important element is education about addiction not only for the client but for the person’s family as well, Rios said. Restart offers family-counseling sessions and social gatherings, the latter which Esperanza Latina also offers.

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