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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – As the coronavirus pandemic continues, so does the struggle for many battling substance use disorder.

Inside the Recovery Organization of Support Specialists, or R.O.S.S., of Marshall County, peers are working to help residents battling substance use disorder.

R.O.S.S. is the first peer-run agency in Alabama, which means everyone working is in longtime recovery with substance use disorder.

There are three facilities across the state with outreach peers in 43 counties.

“We use our lived experience to help others and give them that hope that because things go better for us, things can get better for them as well,” said R.O.S.S. Marketing Director Mark Litvine.

Since the Boaz facility opened in May 2020, nearly 6,500 people have been helped as of December 2020.

That is with COVID-19 safety precautions in place, such as mask use, social distancing and limiting the number of people inside.

“We work with expectant mothers, veterans, people who have been incarcerated. We have a medicaid assisted recovery support group, anger management support group, a parenting group, professional group and youth night, plus DHR visits in reconnecting children with their families,” explained Litvine.

“(We) help them get a job, help them have a stable home and become a better parent and most importantly learn more about recovery,” said Certified Recovery Support Specialist Cassey Lasseter. 

Lasseter told News 19 that recovery was difficult for her, but she hopes to use her personal experience to help others not feel ashamed and break the negative stigma of substance use disorder.

“We are coworkers and functioning members of society. We are parents, we are daughters, we are fathers, we are way more than someone that just struggles with substance abuse,” added Lasseter.

R.O.S.S. is funded through the Alabama Department of Mental Health and all services are free.

“The only thing you need is to come in with the willingness to change your life for the better. we’ll take it from there and connect you to recovery resources, stay with you every step of the way and love you to a better life,” said Litvine.

Struggling with substance use disorder has been especially difficult during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had people dying and overdosing committing suicide , those all went up while we were staying at home to isolate. so we suffer either way we sufffer,” explained Marshall County R.O.S.S. Coordinator Michael Baker.

R.O.S.S. of Marshall County is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. seven days a week.

There is also a 24/7 helpline that people can call and get recovery resources like area treatment providers support group information.

All calls are confidential.

The number for that is 844-307-1760.

For more information on R.O.S.S. of Marshall County, click here.