In The News

Recovery Institute

Recovery Institute of Southwest Michigan

Second Wave Southwest Michigan

Vine Neighborhood

Many pass by the building that is home to Recovery Institute of Southwest Michigan, Inc., 1020 South Westnedge Ave., each day, but may not be aware of what goes on inside its walls. 

“Whether you are an employee or someone who needs a service, this building is for people who have a lived experience in recovery and are sharing it with others who seek to recover,” says Shareé Niblack, Recovery Institute Family Dependency Treatment Court Liaison. “It’s a no-judgment zone.”

While offering a wide range of classes, groups, individual coaching and social services support for people who are experiencing substance use or mental health diagnoses, the Recovery Institute is also a place to just come and hang out. But as the only peer-run, peer-directed recovery center in the county, it’s also so much more.

With 25 partner agencies, including its primary partner, Integrated Services of Kalamazoo County (formerly Community Mental Health), the Recovery Institute is helping create a culture of peer-directed recovery and de-stigmatization of substance use and mental health issues throughout the county. It is accomplishing this through working with the seven treatment courts, local psychiatric clinics, neighborhood associations, colleges, hospitals, homeless shelters and most recently, the Kalamazoo Public Library through its successful year-old Peer Navigator Program.

The Institute’s reach is wide, but its mission is simple: instilling hope and providing a path to self-management and wellness for those seeking recovery.

“One of the most important things we offer, outside of our groups and classes and connecting people with resources, is basically an ear,” says Jonathan Stewart, Peer Support Specialist. “It’s a different thing to talk with someone who has had similar experiences than with someone in a clinic. There’s equality. We engage, too, but the primary act is listening. If you don’t listen, there’s no way to lay the groundwork for any sort of mutuality.”

Through peer listening, agree both Niblack and Stewart, trust can develop and the next steps toward recovery can be taken. 

“The most powerful part of recovery is having someone able to listen when you need someone to listen,” says Niblack. “The healing is what comes out of that connection.”

At the Recovery Institute, steps toward healing may take the form of guidance with social service agencies, lodging or food. Or they may mean participation in one of the Institute’s many peer-led groups, which range from healing trauma, focused recovery groups for LGBTQI, diversion/treatment court support, safety training, mental health support and tobacco recovery, to classes, including arts, wellness, meditation, art, walking, writing and health management.

The Institute also offers Recovery Coaching, a more intensive layer of support that helps participants begin to develop a community and plan that promotes recovery.

In 2018, almost 1,700 people were served and more than 120 groups a month offered. Trained peers offer evidence-based practices, which include the use of action plans regarding crisis management for substance use or mental health, as well as promoting plans for seeking safety for domestic abuse survivors.

“Primarily what we offer is a place where people who are experiencing addiction or mental health concerns and who are working on their recovery can find people like themselves, and that includes the staff,” says Sean Harris, Executive Director of Recovery Institute. “It’s more of a healing environment and a place of belonging as opposed to a clinical treatment center. People can socialize and work together on their recovery rather than just coming for their individual service.”

2019 UFAM Recovery Live Residency Tour