PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. (KATV) — Battling drug addiction is a struggle for millions of Americans with overdoses killing on average 188 people each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One Arkansas non-profit organization has spent the past three years addressing a nationwide health crisis through peer-recovery education methods.
Next Step Women is the state's firsts peer-recovery home for women located in Jacksonville. The organization was founded by Chelsea McGill, who has fought through substance abuse and prevailed, leading her to advocate for women dealing with similar issues.
The group is now expanding its services to assist men in recovery thanks to a donation from the Garrett family in Johnson County.
"We are based on peer recovery and so we're going to take that same principle, those same standards. That is our goal to become the standard in the nation," said Macey Wadley, board president of Next Step Women.
Next Step Women is among the handful of organizations in Arkansas working to help people struggling with addiction.
In 2018, nearly half of the 444 reported overdoses in Arkansas involved opioids, according to the CDC.
The women's center reopened on June 1 after months of closure due to COVID-19. It's a safe place for women to engage in individual and group meetings guided by a peer-recovery specialist.
Next Step Women combines faith and education with an emphasis on the peer-recovery method. Residents engage in individual and group meetings.
The women also receive assistance with securing employment. Balancing recovery with everyday duties while attempting to leave behind the dark habits isn't an easy path.
Macey Wadley noted it's a non-clinical approach that has helped more than 30 women in three years.
"You can't teach recovery if you don't know recovery and so what better way again to have an addict that's been there. I think as an addict you're going to listen to someone who's been there versus someone who's just gone to school to hear about it."
Next Step Women is on a mission to expand across Arkansas, especially the regions where behavioral health resources are limited.
"I think in the more rural areas is where we're having probably a lot of the problem where they're not getting that education and those opportunities," Wadley said.
To learn more about Next Step Women, click here.