Local agency helps break the cycle of drug addiction
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG, Banner Staff Writer
Nov 04, 2012 | 1893 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Breaking the cycle of addiction
RUSSELL COFFEY, Anchor Point Foundation founder, said a good support system is one of the most important support mechanisms that can be offered to someone recovering from a drug addiction. Banner photo, Christy Armstrong
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Russell Coffey said he remembers what it was like to be gripped with drug addiction and living in a drug-induced “fog” while waiting for the symptoms of withdrawal to dissipate.

After several years of ministry, he suffered from an illness in 1982 that left him in the hospital. While he was there, he said he developed an addiction to some of the medication he was taking.

He said it was that event that gave him a sense of compassion for people dealing with addiction. It would later inspire him to start an organization to help them called the Anchor Point Foundation.

In 2001, Coffey had a friend also in ministry who fell into a cycle of addiction using prescription drugs after dealing with several back and neck injuries. He did what he could to help, even accompanying him to a court date when he was facing drug-related charges back in 2003. After court one day, he had a probation officer and a lawyer approach him after the trial to ask if he would be willing to help others because they saw such improvement in Coffey’s friend’s case.

“I was actually approached before I left the courtroom,” Coffey said.

That request sparked an idea for Coffey, and he said he began to research, make lots of phone calls and pray about it. In 2004, he founded the Anchor Point Foundation, and it officially became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2005.

Coffey said the organization has helped some 1,500 people since it started. The first year saw Coffey working with about 50 people the first year and about 200 the next.

Nowadays, it runs with an all-volunteer staff, and Coffey said it is normal for the organization to receive around 150 calls looking for help with drug addiction each week. Referrals still come from individuals in the justice system, but staff also receive calls from individuals seeking help for themselves and family members looking for ways to help their loved ones.

“We realize we’re not that well-known, but we see results,” Coffey said. “That is what is most important.” 

The Anchor Point Foundation helps those struggling with drug addiction by getting them the drug rehabilitation treatment they need to get back to leading normal, productive lives after they complete that treatment.

When a client contacts the staff for help, they set up an appointment to evaluate the best way to get help for the client. Most often, that includes the client heading to a residential drug rehabilitation facility for 12 months or more to get the drugs out of their system and learn how to live drug-free. The organization places clients in facilities all over the United States. Coffey said many are more likely to succeed if they are cut off from familiar surroundings and people who supply them with and enable them to use drugs.

“It’s very difficult to get a person rehabilitated in their own area,” Coffey said.

The Anchor Point Foundation always tries to place individuals who need drug rehabilitation programs in them as soon as possible after they call, Coffey said.

After they graduate from their rehabilitation programs, clients can participate in a weekly support group for clients and their families that meets at Lee University’s Church Street Annex at the corner of Church Street and Central Avenue. They can also receive support to work toward their GED or learn new job skills.

Those battling drug addictions more often than not need help to quit, and the staff members of the Anchor Point Foundation see God as the answer for the success they have seen so far.

“We do believe there has to be a higher power involved,” Coffey said. “We believe the healing process has to start within. When they have peace with themselves and with God, healing can happen.” 

He said he believes God helped him, his friend and many of the organization’s clients overcome their addictions. Coffey has traveled as a Christian evangelist but considers the Anchor Point Foundation a major part of his ministry now.

Coffey said the Anchor Point Foundation works with local churches for a program called “Churches Adopting the Recovering,” which pairs individuals with people in a church to establish healthy relationships and provide accountability.

“One of the greatest needs is a support system,” Coffey said.

The organization uses an office in a modular building on the property of Westwood Baptist Church. The church offers it to the Anchor Point Foundation free of charge because it supports the organization’s mission. However, the organization is not affiliated with any specific church or denomination.

In addition to programs for individual programs, the Anchor Point Foundation runs a drug rehabilitation for inmates in the Bradley County Jail.

One of the organization’s goals is to help all clients work through the consequences of their drug use — including any criminal charges that may have resulted. Coffey said one example of a problem that has faced some clients has been parents losing custody of their children. The organization has helped parents try to regain custody of their children after successful completion of their drug rehabilitation programs.

The Anchor Point Foundation has a list of things it would like to do to help clients in the future. Its future goals include ideas like the possibility of starting its own residential facility and partnering with local companies for a job placement program.

The organization helps individuals dealing with a variety of drug addictions — from marijuana or cocaine use to the abuse of prescription medications. No matter the problem, its mission is still to help individuals get their lives back.

Coffey said more and more people are finding out that people they know have things in their pasts of which they’re not proud. What is most important, he said, is how they choose to carry on in the future.

According to a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year, 8.7 percent of all Americans above the age of 12 currently abuse drugs. The survey was based on household interviews, and the numbers only reflect the number of people who were willing to admit to having a drug problem.

“We can’t do anything about the past,” Coffey said. “But we can move forward in the future. Our mission and our goal is to provide anyone who wants help that opportunity and to give them hope.” 

Anyone wanting information about volunteering with or receiving help from the Anchor Point Foundation can call 423-284-6457.