COPE Network stands for Community Outreach Prevention and Education Network
We are a licensed non-profit 501(c)(3) that covers Barry, Berrien, Branch, Cass, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren counties in Southwest Michigan.
Traditionally, community based substance abuse resources have been limited to twelve-step and abstinence based programs that aren't the answer for everyone. COPE offers something different.
COPE provides resources for people with substance use disorder (SUD), as well as resources for their loved ones and the community at large, all while using a harm reduction approach to substance use and substance use disorder. The term "harm reduction," which is explained in more detail here and here, involves mitigating the risks associated with potentially harmful behaviors like substance use. By using a harm reduction approach to care, we advocate for the health, safety, and rights of individuals who use substances while honoring multiple pathways to recovery for those who seek it.
Art, Music, and Movement Classes
At our building in Kalamazoo, we offer a range of classes related to art, music, and movement thanks to our diverse network of volunteer instructors. These activities allow people to explore new hobbies, interests, and wellness pursuits in accessible and affordable ways while opening people up to new social connections and community support. These classes are also sanctioned by the Kalamazoo Drug Court, meaning that people in a drug court program can come to classes like guitar, yoga, or meditation and receive credit toward their success in the program like they do for attending NA, AA, or intensive outpatient programs (IOP).
Almost everything we do at COPE is open to the public, and our offerings are not limited to people with substance use history. In fact, we encourage outside participation! It should go without saying, but people with a history of substance use are more than their addiction or their recovery, and they shouldn't feel defined by their history when seeking services. By being open to the public, our programs are attended by a mix of people with histories of substance use, the formerly incarcerated, the vulnerable and marginalized, their families and friends, as well as compassionate community members interested in learning new skills -- and no one who attends our programs has to define themselves any particular way. When someone comes to a yoga class, the main topic is yoga, not addiction, or recovery, or who is here for what. By offering a yoga class this way, people who do have a history of substance use get to practice yoga in a setting that is safe for them around people who are caring and compassionate should they be seeking support.
We ask that people who attend our programs not assume the background of other attendees or overstep anyone's boundaries. For those who do have a history of substance use, abstinence or recovery is NOT required to attend, although we ask that people not use substances on the premises or solicit substances from other attendees.
Because of the nature of these circumstances, most of our programs are 18+ (or require parent/guardian attendance) unless otherwise stated. If you have questions about this or are seeking support for youth, please contact us.
For information and a schedule of our current classes click here.
Overdose Prevention Trainings
In 2015 COPE's founder Nancy King received a grant through Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health and The Red Project to distribute the medicine Naloxone (also known as Narcan) to the community as an antidote to opioid overdoses. In addition to distributing Narcan, Nancy developed presentations that more thoroughly address the subjects of substance use, addiction, harm reduction, and overdose prevention, as well as how to respond to an overdose with or without Narcan. COPE has since presented to communities, bar/restaurant and entertainment staff, businesses and organizations, churches, concert crowds, schools, graduate and undergraduate classes, doctors and nurses, as well as local law enforcement. COPE's main focus is on getting Narcan into the hands of those most likely to use it by training every round of patients at area rehabs and being available for drop in, mobile, and one-on-one trainings as requested. Since 2015 COPE has trained over 9,500 people and given out over 7,000 kits in our 8 county region.
We always have Narcan available for anyone who needs it, and we always recommend that people are trained in overdose prevention and overdose response in case they find themselves in a position to save someone's life. If you would like to receive a kit or set up a training, or to learn more about overdose response click here.
ACES Trainings and Accounting for Trauma
The Adverse Childhood Experiences study (also known as ACES) conducted by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente looks at the relationship between trauma experienced childhood and health outcomes in adulthood. The ACES study found that the more trauma a child experiences, the more at risk they are for developing diseases (including mental health disorders and addiction) or suffering an early death. In 2017, COPE's founder Nancy became a certified Master Trainer with the Michigan ACE initiative, which allows her to give presentations on the ACES study and its findings. COPE strongly believes in the importance of identifying, preventing, and healing trauma for the health and well-being of individuals, communities, and society as a whole.
To contact Nancy for more information or to set up an ACES training click here.
Family and Community Support
One of COPE's earliest endeavors was to provide support for families suffering due to a loved one's substance use or addiction. COPE's founder, Nancy King, lost her daughter Marissa to a heroin overdose in 2012. Marissa's fiance Chris Kahllo died by suicide the following day. In the wake of Marissa's death, her family and friends reflected on the ways they responded to her struggles and began sharing their experiences in hopes of helping others care for their loved ones through addiction. In 2014 Nancy met Kristi Angelo, who lost her son to an overdose as well. Together, they founded the Southwest Michigan chapter of FAN and began a support group to reach others affected. This evolved into a twice monthly support group in Kalamazoo, and a once monthly support group in Berrien run by Amy and Jim Jonatzke, who lost their son Austin to an overdose in 2017. These support groups have evolved to include people struggling with addiction and people in recovery, as well as their families and friends. At these meetings, everyone is heard and everyone is supported. To learn more about the meetings click here.
COPE is happy to offer support or guidance for anyone who reaches out in need.
Harm Reduction and Kalamazoo Harm Reduction
COPE strongly believes in Harm Reduction as a compassionate and inclusive way of caring for people who use substances or who suffer from addiction. The term "Harm Reduction" refers to "a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use" (Harm Reduction Coalition). Harm Reduction is about establishing quality of life for people who use substances, but it does not require someone to be abstinent from substances or in recovery for them to achieve that quality of life. To view the principles of Harm Reduction as defined by the Harm Reduction Coalition, click here.
COPE uses a Harm Reduction framework in everything we do. We are all about meeting people where they're at in their substance use, addiction, or recovery journey, and we strive to support people in whatever ways we can to help them establish better quality of life. Whether someone is seeking recovery or not, our goal is always to advocate for the health, safety, equity, and autonomy of people who use substances.
COPE came together to bring Kalamazoo Harm Reduction to the community as a way to distribute safer-use supplies like clean needles to those in need. This is a way to keep IV drug users as safe and healthy as possible while reducing their risk of exposure to blood-born pathogens like hepatitis A, B, and C, as well as HIV. To learn more about this program and see the efficacy of safer-use supply click here.
*Kalamazoo Harm Reduction is NOT currently distributing supplies. When KHR is operational, they will be working out of CARES (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services) in downtown Kalamazoo.