Southeast Oregon coffee shop will aim to combat opioid addiction

A nonprofit organisation in Southeast Oregon hopes to combat opioid addiction with coffee.

In May, the Oregon Health Authority announced that Symmetry Care, Inc. would receive a grant to fund drug treatment services in Harney County. The grant is part of the initial distribution of funds from Measure 110, the 2020 ballot initiative that voters approved to decriminalise drugs and increase funding for addiction services.

Instead of providing traditional addiction services such as counselling and education, Symmetry will establish a coffee shop with the $850,000 grant. The organisation acquired a building for the project in Burns, the county seat of Harney County with a population of 2,700.

The director of Symmetry, Chris Siegner, stated that his organisation already offers more traditional treatment services, but the non-profit hopes that operating a café staffed by people in recovery from addiction will help employees stay clean even more.

“I am a licenced clinical social worker, and I treat and see clients here, but I recognise that their employment is frequently far more important than the therapy I provide,” he said. And assisting them in this endeavour is crucial to their recovery.

Coffee for a good cause
Jason Sanchez, the addictions and peer supervisor at Symmetry, stated that he came up with the idea for a coffee shop after reviewing the grant requirements and considering his clients’ needs.

Sanchez stated that many of Symmetry’s clients have low self-esteem and feel incapable of becoming productive members of society due to their past decisions. Sanchez stated that they also lack the necessary social support to maintain their recovery.

Siegner stated that research and Symmetry’s clients support the company’s approach. The nonprofit received positive responses from clients after requesting their opinions on the proposal.

Symmetry anticipates that the coffee shop will serve not only as a source of employment but also as a hub for other treatment services. In addition, the business will have all the advantages of a functional café.

Sanchez stated, “It will be a place where our community can go to enjoy a cup of coffee and perhaps a pastry or something.”

Siegner stated that the coffee shop will open within the next 10 to 12 months, but it is looking to hire a few customers to assist with the renovations.

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