Bristol Lifestyle Recovery expected to open in May

Bristol Lifestyle Recovery, one of the region’s only long-term residential recovery centers for drug addicts and others who need faith-based assistance, will open May 15 after years of planning.

At first, 30 to 40 people will be able to move in to the former 240-bed nursing home. The center’s executive director, Bob Garrett, said that beds will be added over time.

The new center, which straddles the state line on North Street in Bristol, will be a long-term residential recovery site and not a treatment center.

The facility, operated by the Fairview Housing Development Corp., which currently runs the 24-bed Manna House of Johnson City, will assist post-detox addicts, people under supervision of the court system, veterans, pregnant detoxed women, the homeless, those aging out of the foster system, those seeking faith-based solutions and addicted men and women.

There is a need in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee to assist people who have been affected by the prescription drug epidemic, Garrett said.

One Tennessee health official said the 240-bed facility could be filled with just pregnant women, Garrett said. The center will assist pregnant women by helping them get off drugs before their babies are born, the director added.

The facility will also help reduce the homeless population in downtown Bristol by providing beds and assistance for those in need. Garrett said he has already spoken to city officials about the problem.

Garrett said the facility will fill a void by providing housing for six months to two years for those in need.

“We partner with them and they realize we are there to help,” Garrett said, noting that a staff of about 30 will work closely with residents.

Staff members, volunteers and about 40 partner organizations in the community will provide an assortment of assistance at the center, including counseling, job training, legal counsel and medical care.

The need for such a facility is great, Garrett said. A recent study found that there is a need for 1,500 beds a year in the Bristol area, he added.

Individuals interested in the facility should fill out an online application, which will then be considered on an individual basis, Garrett said.

“They have to be able to work their way through the programs,” Garrett said. “Everyone will have to work and do chores at the facility.”

It will be divided into eight different communities of about 15 to 24 people each.

“They will live together and become family,” Garrett said.

Maintenance, kitchen work and other needs will be provided by residents.

Once residents are released back into the community, the goal is for them to be able to work. Garrett noted that many local employers are unable to fill vacant positions because people cannot pass a drug test. Bristol Lifestyle Recovery will provide the community 240 drug-free residents, he added.

“The facility’s job is to help people,” Garrett said.

The center will hold all residents accountable, Garrett said. Random drug tests will be conducted at the facility.

East Tennessee State University’s Center for Prescription Drug Use/Misuse will monitor the facility’s efforts. Garrett said it will be one of the first known times in the country that a research center studies the outcome of a long-term residential recovery site. Through data, ETSU will help determine what works and what doesn’t, he said.

Garrett said at least one staff member is already working at the facility and others are being added. Within the next month, some cosmetic work will be completed on the building, including painting and cleaning.

The building is already filled with furniture and equipment from the nursing home, which last occupied the facility four years ago, Garrett added.

Fairview’s Manna House in Johnson City has more than an 80 percent success rate for its residents. Garrett said some of the residents don’t want to leave because it has become their home and family.

Relationships and camaraderie will be essential at the new Bristol facility, he added.

Garrett recalled a man living at the Manna House who arrived overweight and suffered from an eating addiction. He once weighed more than 600 pounds, Garrett said, but with help from residents, the man has lost about 300 pounds and now plays golf.

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