South Carolina Office of Rural Health: Dreaming Up New Recovery Solutions  

Recovering from Substance Use Disorder (SUD) can be a vicious cycle, especially when it comes to accessing the treatment and support services needed to successfully secure meaningful employment. Furthermore, it’s not just an individual who feels these effects, but entire communities. In upstate South Carolina, public services in Cherokee, Pickens, and Union counties have been strained with SUD-related hospitalizations, emergency responses, and fatalities. Meanwhile, local trade, transportation, utilities, and manufacturing sectors continue to struggle from workforce shortages, holding back local economic growth.  

The South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) is setting out to break this cycle using its $498,994 INSPIRE grant. Their Developing Recovery-Supportive Employment in the Appalachian Mountain region of South Carolina (DREAMS) project will address this interconnected web of SUD-related challenges by providing support for both individuals in recovery, and workforce sectors struggling to fill job positions. Early project activities include partnering with the University of Rochester to offer an experiential learning program for local employers and sectors to help them break stigmas surrounding employing individuals in recovery. In the future, SCORH will adapt and enhance this learning model to be available, and applied, more broadly across Appalachia.  

“Partnership is central to the success of the DREAMS project,” said Jessica Seel, SCORH’s Director of Behavioral Health Initiatives and Workforce Development. “Cultivating trust within rural communities serves as the primary approach to drive sustainable change. SCORH’s objective is to tap into the expertise of their partners as community experts and lead the way to secure support and foster meaningful change for individuals in recovery.”

While working with employers, DREAMS will also link individuals in recovery to existing career development networks, with a special focus on industries in need of workers. SCORH expects to provide career development support to at least 300 individuals in recovery.   

ARC is proud to partner with SCORH and support DREAMS, which will have long-lasting effects beyond the initial program period, providing participants with stable careers and empowering employers to end stigmas surrounding workers in recovery.   

In September 2023, ARC announced nearly $14 million in INSPIRE awards, which brought us to a grand total of nearly $46 million invested in recovery-to-work projects. Learn more about the awards.