Recovery Program

A Community-Based Recovery Program is being developed by a team within Well Being Development (WBD) starting with a grant from the St. Louis County Opioid Settlement Funds, awarded to WBD in early 2023.

Through 2023 and 2024, a project team and advisory group of committed community members have been exploring community perceptions and researching the impact of substance use and opioid use disorders (SUD and OUD), and options for treatments and recovery support that could be used here in the Ely area. We are presenting our findings and early ideas for a recovery residence with co-located support services and talking with our community to gather additional input that can be used for further design and implementation ideas.

Substance Use and Addiction, A community issue

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a complex condition that involves a problematic pattern of substance use. It can range from mild to severe (addiction).
Addiction is a chronic illness, and is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control.
Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder include:
Significant decrease in ability to function in day-to-day life
Continued use of drug or alcohol despite problems the use is causing Intense focus and desire for using certain substance(s)
Build-up of tolerance – need to use more of the substance to feel the same effects

Alcohol and drug use is one of the leading causes of preventable illnesses and premature death nationwide.   13% of adults living in rural MN meet criteria for a Substance Use Disorder, that is 1 in 8 adults.

Alcohol and drug use is one of the leading causes of preventable illnesses and premature death nationwide.   13% of adults living in rural MN meet criteria for a Substance Use Disorder, that is 1 in 8 adults. The three main forms of treatment include detoxification, cognitive and behavioral therapies, and medication- assisted therapies. There are also several different types of treatment settings, including outpatient counseling, Intensive outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment, and long-term therapeutic communities.

The Effects on our Community

Substance use disorders are harming our families, friends, and neighbors and are negatively impacting our community as a whole.

Of 158 Ely community residents that completed a survey during the Harvest Moon Festival, 78% of respondents indicated they had been impacted by substance use in some way.
A common theme among interviews with eight community stakeholders was that community and emergency support resources are being expended due to misuse of drugs and alcohol.
Interviews with individuals with lived
experience also revealed stigma and a lack of variety in recovery support options were barriers for those living with addiction.

“So much of the crime that we deal with can be traced back to drug and alcohol use.”

-Ely law inforcement

“I see lots of youth, and children who are living in homes where they are experiencing an absence of parenting and support due to the chemicals controlling where the affection and effort goes. You see that anywhere from the absence, neglect side to abuse. There are more people experiencing that where you would not expect.

Local Mental Health practitioner

The Good News:

Substance Use Disorders are Treatable Recovery is Possible!

As with many chronic diseases, remission of substance use and full recovery can be achieved if evidence-based care is provided.

Results from a national survey indicate that more than 25 million individuals who once had a problem with alcohol or drugs no longer do.

Research shows that about 1/3 people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms one year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems. Treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s disruptive effects on their brain and behavior and regain control of their lives.

Stigma: An invisible Barrier to Care

Stigma limits a person’s ability to access services they need because they feel unworthy of receiving or requesting services

Tips for reducing stigma and supporting people with addiction challenges:

Remember that addiction is a chronic illness – not a moral or character failure. 

 Acknowledge that our own experiences form our biases and may hinder our ability to understand others.

Use person-centered language, such as “person with substance use challenges,” instead of stigmatizing labels like “addict.”

Let’s strive to create a compassionate community that provides supportive services for those who need and deserve it

The Challenge of our Rural Location

There are currently no inpatient or outpatient treatment programs in the Ely area. The closest are in Virginia. This means:

Community members are returning to town after treatment with little or no support. This is a critical transition time for recovery that often sees relapse and increased rates of overdose.

Traveling to outpatient treatment may be a challenge – logistically or financially. Connection to resources is key.

Based on evidence of effective treatment and commitment to a holistic approach that puts the person at the center of the care model, we have begun to put together a plan to build a Recovery Program. Listening to early guidance from the community through surveys and interviews has been an important part of our process.

Recovery Housing with Co-located Services
At the center of our programming is Recovery Residence Housing with co-located services. A needs assessment conducted by St. Louis County has identified housing as a major gap in the recovery model. Our plan is to provide safe, stable housing with built-in connections to services that support individuals on their recovery journey right here in their own community.
Co-located services, designed to complement clinical services such as outpatient chemical dependency treatment and medication assisted treatment (MAT), may include: care facilitation, support groups, peer recovery support specialists, access to technology for telehealth appointments, and Northern Lights Clubhouse to reduce social isolation.

Breaking the Cycle

Recovery Housing with a person-centered holistic approach has evidence that it is effective in reducing the impact of substance misuse and addiction.

Positive results for individuals returning from inpatient treatment and the overall community include:

  • Increasing employment and income
  • Increasing family & social functioning
  • Improving psychological & emotional well-being
  • Decreasing substance use and relapse
  • Reducing criminal activity for those w/ SUDs
  • Increasing quality of life measures
  • Increasing property values
  • Average cost savings $29,000 per person when comparing to returning without supports
  • People in recovery housing earned about $550 more per month than people with no housing support
  • Studies show “calculating the economic costs and benefits of establishing recovery homes have overwhelmingly found that the benefits far outweigh the costs.”


So, what could a person-centered holistic Recovery Residence with co-located services look like in Ely?
Here are the details we’ve established so far:

  • Serves individuals from the Ely area who have undergone treatment & maintained abstinence for 30+ days
  • Abstinence-based network of support (medications allowed)
  • House manager with peer recovery support specialist training
  • Rent paid by tenants = self-funded, self- sustaining
  • Written policies and procedures based on National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) standards.
  • Resident participation in household meetings, chores and maintenance
  • Co-located services in home: care facilitation, peer recovery support specialist, support groups, Northern Lights Clubhouse
  • Close ties to other community partners: food, employment, transportation services, physical health, mental health


  • Designed using best practices and NARR standards
  • Building owned and maintained by WBD
  • Ely area community members are the residents
  • Application process
  • House Rules and Commitment to Sobriety
  • Live-in house manager to oversee

Community Partnerships and Complementary Programming


As a member (and backbone agency) of the Ely Behavioral Health Network and Ely Community Care Team, WBD is committed to collaborating with other local healthcare, behavioral health, public health, and non-profit human service organizations

Harm Reduction

Promotion of Harm Reduction measures that put compassion first and judgment last.

Ensuring overdose reversal medication (naloxone) available to community members by hosting a Naloxone Access Point.

Prevention and Community Education

Membership in EPARC (Ely Prevention, Awareness, and Recovery Coalition)

  Hosting fun sober community events Offer community trainings, such as Mental Health First Aid

“We can’t change the world, but we can change Ely”

-Community member with lived experience


Recovery Residences

National Alliance of Recovery Residences:

Peer Recovery Support

Peer Support Workers for Those in Recovery: tools/peers

Peer Recovery Support:

Walking the Path Together studies/addiction-research/peer-recovery- support

Harm Reduction

National Harm Reduction Coalition:

Care Facilitation

Pathways to Wellness

Northern Lights Clubhouse

The Science of Addiction

Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction (publication)  topics/addiction-science/drugs-brain-  behavior-science-of-addiction

The Science of Addiction (video) si=xroizZK2WXaUQiJl