Uber pilot program proves successful for recovering opioid addicts

Uber pilot program proves successful for recovering opioid addicts
Recovering opioid addicts are getting support through a rideshare program in Chesterfield. (Source: NBC12)

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The road to recovery from drug addiction can be difficult, but Chesterfield County is supporting those in recovery through a rideshare program that has proven to be successful.

Funded by the Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services, the program utilizes Uber and Goodwill to arrange free rides for those in active recovery in Chesterfield County.

The program launched in March, and there are 11 people currently signed up to use it.

"Without the Uber program, I don't know what I would do, to be honest with you," explained Jason Cox.

Cox recently celebrated six months clean. In February, he completed the Chesterfield County jail's Heroin Addiction Recovery Program (HARP) and was quickly referred to the rideshare program.

"It allows me to go do the work that's required in recovery in myself," he explained. "To become a productive member of society."

Cox uses the free rides to get to and from treatment, support groups and appointments with Chesterfield County Mental Health Services.

In addition to Uber, Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services also helps provide transportation to Cox's job.

"It's afforded me the freedom to get to all my recovery meetings, which is extremely important," said Cox. "I don't have to worry about 'how am I going to get to this meeting?' Or, 'how am I going to get to this appointment?' Anything like that."

Through the Uber program, he arranges a ride by contacting Goodwill, who has a profile of each rider and approved lists of destinations.

I'm extremely vigilant in my recovery process, but you have to be," he said. "Because I have this program, I've been able to make a habit of it."

Goodwill says they act as the "dispatch" for users. If you have a smartphone, you are sent a link to connect with a driver, but if you do not have a smartphone, Goodwill will arrange the ride.

Cox is currently in a 12-step program and says his work began while he was in the jail's HARP program. Now that he is out, the motivation continues. Cox says he realizes the impact the rideshare program has on his overall quality of life.

"If I had to pay for that, I couldn't explain to you - I would be dead broke. No kidding, dead broke and depressed," he said.

Cox works Monday through Thursday, but he dedicates Friday to paying forward the support he has continued to receive.

"I take Fridays off to come up here at HARP to share experience, strength and hope," Cox explained. "It's saving lives. It saved my life, that's for sure, and I can go in here and let these guys know - it doesn't have to be the way it used to be."

If you are interested in recovery and treatments programs with Chesterfield County, contact Mental Health Support Services at 804-768-7318.

Copyright 2018 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.