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A Fresh Start: Living in Recovery and Gaining Self-Sufficiency

Avivo is an example of a local facility trying to reduce the impact of mental and substance use disorders and to increase self-sufficiency.

Consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order on Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility,  HHS’ Strategic Plan sets goals for HHS to encourage self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, and eliminate barriers to economic opportunity and to reduce the impact of mental and substance use disorders through prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery support. This blog is part of the Self-Sufficiency Series: Solutions from the Field, which profiles local programs from across the country finding solutions to accomplish these goals.

For people who experience mental health issues and substance use disorders, problems such as poverty and homelessness can hurt their progress toward recovery. Many evidence-based treatment approaches account for these challenges and provide services that promote recovery and self-sufficiency, which align with the goals of President Trump’s Executive Order and of the HHS Strategic Plan. Avivo, a treatment provider in Minneapolis, is an example of a local facility trying to reduce the impact of mental and substance use disorders and to increase economic mobility and self-sufficiency.

Every day, Avivo participants face barriers to economic opportunity, contending with adversity such as poverty, racism, substance abuse, mental health difficulties, poor work skills, and low educational attainment. Avivo first opened its doors in the 1960s as a vocational rehabilitation center and now offers treatment for mental and substance use disorders paired with employment services, providing a range of services that aim to help their patients thrive long after they graduate from residential treatment.

HHS is interested in facilitating personal responsibility and economic opportunity, and Avivo’s approach shows one strategy for doing so. The staff at Avivo assesses each individual to determine their unique strengths, needs, and desires. The diverse treatment team specializes in assisting unemployed people discover purpose and meaning in their lives by finding and maintaining employment. Employment offers stability and helps to build self-esteem in individuals who formerly only knew the chaos associated with substance abuse.

In addition to treating mental health and substance use disorders, Avivo, which receives support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also addresses economic mobility. It operates a licensed, accredited career school that offers credentialed training in eight career paths: accounting, office support, medical office support, information technology , manufacturing, maintenance, mechatronics (which teaches skills and knowledge needed for a wide range of manufacturing and warehouse jobs), and warehouse operations. Individuals in Avivo’s treatment programs have access to a full array of credentialed training and several of the training programs conduct training on-site at Avivo’s intensive outpatient treatment program. Avivo has also made it easier to access these economic opportunity supports by  signing agreements with three Minnesota state colleges and universities and by providing scholarships to participants in its recovery programs who are interested in Avivo’s school. These agreements furnish a pathway where Avivo participants may choose to advance their education, which helps them move toward self-sufficiency.

Formerly incarcerated individuals are among those HHS aims to help obtain and maintain employment, and Tonique is an example of how Avivo is putting this goal into action. She was released from prison with only the clothes on her back and estranged from her family. At Avivo, Tonique got treatment for her drug abuse, therapeutic services, career education, and vocational training. With Avivo’s help, she learned how to write a cover letter, build a resume and properly interview for a job. Tonique, who has been reunited with her family, now works in the community by helping women overcome sexual exploitation.

According to Avivo Vice President Boyd Brown, over 80 percent of alumni of Avivo’s treatment programs are now gainfully employed.

Avivo is thus another example of a private organization that shares the HHS priority of encouraging self-sufficiency by helping people like Tonique leverage their own strengths and talents to achieve self-sufficiency and a renewed sense of purpose.

Avivo is a substance use disorder, mental health treatment and vocational rehabilitation program that serves 6,000 people annually in 9 locations in Minnesota

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