MOST OF US ARE –  

Nov. 15, 2021 – Recovering from addiction sometimes takes years, or working through multiple programs before it sticks. 

Pile a mental health condition on top, and recovery can seem insurmountable.

Steve McComb, a peer support specialist with the county’s Mental Health Court program since 2014, knows firsthand. 

“One of the things we like to say, and one of the things I’ve learned from Steve, is that just because someone fails the program doesn’t mean we didn’t help them,” said Mary Wolfinger, coordinator of the program since 2009. 

Now with a decade of sobriety behind him, McComb went through six different recovery programs before he found long-term success. The first was in Seattle, 38 years ago. 

“We were told that 80% of us wouldn’t make it,” McComb said. 

While McComb didn’t go through Mental Health Court personally, he is familiar with what works. 

The big difference is that MHC takes “the whole person approach,” rather than solely doling out punishment, Wolfinger said. 

“The others were just drug and alcohol (-focused). There was no co-occurring or mental health treatment,” McComb said. “It’s my belief that most everybody that’s an addict in recovery has a mental health issue.” 

From a numbers standpoint, Mental Health Court is a highly effective program. A 2016 study found that 65% of those who completed the program avoided recidivism, Wolfinger said. 

McComb is one of two full-time peer support specialists and the first to fill the position. 

The program is intense and highly structured, Wolfinger said. Completion takes a minimum of 18 months.

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