For Many, Turning Point's Outpatient Services Are Most Important

Dec 11, 2021

On a typical Wednesday, Joe Russom arrives to Turning Point in Grand Rapids early, well before 9 a.m. As an outpatient supervisor, he organizes the room clients will be using for their group session, he gets drug tests set up, and he scans over the schedule of individuals who will be stopping in that day, reminding himself of the task list and which clients need to work on what.

Of the many different programs and services Turning Point provides including detox, short-term residential and outpatient, the latter differs from the other two in that individuals aren’t under 24/7 support. The public may know more about inpatient services, which involves care while in a safe environment, than outpatient.

“A lot of people really don’t talk about outpatient services. In some people’s opinion, it is more important because when people are in a safe place, it’s easier to not use drugs because there’s no drugs available,” Russom says. “But when they get out, the world isn’t so easy to deny yourself certain urges.”

Outpatient services can include a bricolage of group sessions, therapy with licensed clinicians, recovery coaching and medicated-assisted treatment. And of course, lots of support from the staff at Turning Point. The services each individual receives varies depending on their specific needs.

Some individuals are directed to outpatient after being in Turning Point’s inpatient program, while others come in right off the streets.

“We genuinely care about the people that come in,” Russom said. “We’re able to build those relationships with our clients because we actually care. When people are out using drugs or drinking, it’s hard to find people that truly care about you and your well-being. Our staff lets people know that we do care, we care what happens to you, and we want to watch you succeed. When we tell them that and show them that by being there for them, they genuinely open up, they get more honest with themselves and then the rapport builds over time.”


In Russom’s case, some of his connection built with clients emanates from him sharing some of his own recovery story with those he’s helping.

A Big Rapids, Mich., native, Russom grew up in a drug-addicted household and experienced several traumatic events as a child. When he was 15, he started using drugs and was mixing those with alcohol and the medications he was prescribed for some mental disorders.

“I was just lost. My home life was still really messy, I didn’t feel comfortable in school or anywhere else, and the only thing that helped me escape the feelings and the people was to start using drugs.”

He visited a local facility at least five times before the age of 18.

Around the age of 20, he had to be resuscitated on-site following a drug-provoked automobile accident. Instead of a near-fatal crash being a wake-up call, it instead led him deeper into addiction as it gave him a justification to get hooked on opioids.

A year or two later, fearing his soon-to-be-born daughter would grow up in a drug household, Russom went to a residential program for a month-long stay. He said his perceptions changed and he started seeing things more clearly. After getting out, his daughter was a month old and he did everything he could to be a good father.

Soon thereafter though, a relapse on alcohol occurred and Russom ended up visiting a dual diagnosis center, one that treats mental health and addiction. While there, he found a support group that was a defining point in his recovery.

“The group helped me identify what I needed in life, which was healthy support and a good group of people. I was able to connect myself enough to these programs and make a choice finally that I didn’t want to use anymore, and I had a way out.”

After leaving the facility and keeping with his support group, he started to pull everything together, he says. He cut ties with the negative influences in his life, he got intertwined in difference programs for recovery, he started college classes, and he did some volunteer work at recovery houses.

“I ended up realizing that the only thing that really helped me is when I helped other people, so I figured out that that’s what I want to do for a living.”

He was doing voluntary work and bringing different programs from the outside to Turning Point. His weekly interactions with the Turning Point staff ultimately led him to employment with The Salvation Army.

Russom had been clean for two years prior to joining The Salvation Army and he says the organization has played a role in the fact that he’s been clean for close to seven years now.

“I have been able to stay clean because of Salvation Army Turning Point,” he says. “Because I help people on a daily basis, I see people in pain on a daily basis, and I watch people get out of it, it helps me stay clean on a daily basis.”

Russom started as a treatment coordinator and also was an outpatient advocate before his current role as outpatient supervisor. In addition to Grand Rapids, he travels to other Turning Point locations in West Michigan, working with individuals in Muskegon, Ludington and Baldwin throughout the week.

“This job grew so quickly and I was really surprised I had gotten this far in a career just from trying to help people,” he said. “That’s really my main motive. My motive is to help people and I don’t just want to get through the day to get through the day, I want to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Russom, along with the hard-working staff at Turning Point, has made a difference in people’s lives. The staff doesn’t just tell people they care, they do everything they can to show it. When Russom goes through intimate initial intake questions with an individual, he’ll share some about his past to help the person understand that if he can recover, then they can too. Some are surprised about his history because he doesn’t “look” like someone who was addicted to drugs.

“I’ve had certain clients that have been here for two years and haven’t had a bad drug test, clients that have gotten their kids back, that have gotten their lives back, that have gotten a job finally, that feel good about themselves, that can look in a mirror and be proud of who they are. That feels good that you were a part of that. When we have someone who is doing so well and telling us how great their life is, it motivates us to continue going and know that we’re in the right place and doing the right thing.”

When you give to The Salvation Army this holiday season, your donation helps make sure that Hope Marches On. One of the many Salvation Army programs that ensures Hope Marches On for all who encounter it is Turning Point Programs.



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