Ironton-Lawrence Community Action Organization: Expanding Recovery Ecosystems in OH, KY and WV

The Ironton-Lawrence Community Action Organization (ILCAO) is dedicated to improving the well-being of residents of Lawrence County, Ohio by providing assistance for housing, homelessness, and nutrition, early childhood services, and job training opportunities. Together these services are having a critical impact in a county where economic distress is steadily increasing. Now, with a $500,000 grant from ARC’s INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative, their jobs program will expand its impact as a recovery-to-work opportunity for members of this community. 

ILCAO Recovery Ecosystem Expansion Initiative will use INSPIRE funding to implement an Intensive Outpatient Program offering vital support services for long-term recovery and work placement success. While based Ironton, Ohio, the program will Southern Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, and West Virginia. In total, the initiative will impact at least nine counties in the three most economically distressed states in the Appalachian Region.  

Lawrence County and the OH-KY-WV tri-state area have also been disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic. Between 2014–2018, Lawrence County saw an age-adjusted drug overdose mortality rate of 67.2 deaths per 100,000 population, which is 63% higher than the Appalachian Region drug overdose mortality rate of 41.2%. Lawrence County’s overdose mortality rate is also nearly 30% higher than Ohio’s rate and a staggering 150% higher than the U.S. overdose mortality rates for the same period. Through this program, ILCAO aims to address both substance abuse and economic distress by helping participants navigate recovery and reenter the workforce to contribute to local and regional economic growth. 

Re-Entering the Workforce

After re-entering the workforce, ILCAO clients also have access to medical, dental, and mental health care, case managers, and much more. Moreover, ILCAO’s long-standing partnership with local drug courts will ensure non-violent offenders suffering from addiction are referred to our continuum of recovery services through their Diversion program. The Diversion program, first piloted by ILCAO years ago, allows individuals with nonviolent, drug-related charges to receive rehabilitative treatment as an alternative to punitive rulings. IOP participants will also have the opportunity to support others in recovery as their job, serving their community as case managers and peer support specialists. 

A successful local recovery ecosystem must help individuals in nearly every aspect of life – from housing, to transportation, child and health care – to create an environment where sobriety and employment can be maintained. ILCAO’s comprehensive structure, both as an organization and, now, a community leader in recovery-to-work, is an incredible example of recovery at work in Appalachia.  

Learn more about ARC INSPIRE awardees and the initiative’s role in addressing the economic impacts of substance abuse.