For many former prisoners transitioning back into their communities, the cycle of re-incarceration is difficult to break. And studies show that released inmates who have Substance Use Disorder (SUD)—often combined with another mental disorder—are more likely to end up back behind bars if they don’t get proper treatment and access to community services.

Aundra Gillyourd is a peer support specialist/recovery coach who works with the Gándara Center-Plymouth County MISSION Re-entry Program, which provides coordinated and integrated services for incarcerated men at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility who are assessed with SUD, co-occurring other mental health issues, and are at high risk to reoffend.

“I take care of the needs of men coming out of prison—try to get them stabilized, housing, etc.,” says Aundra. “I get to genuinely help people.” As someone with lived experience who has spent time in jail, he knows where they’re coming from and he likes to help get them back on their feet. “I did time before, so I know how it is to come out and have to get re-integrated into society,” he says. The incarcerated men he helps are within four months of finishing their sentences and returning to the greater Brockton and Plymouth communities.

The program, funded by a $425,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, uses a wrap-around team approach (clinician, case manager, and peer) to increase access to treatment, community linkages, recovery support, and support in building positive family/community connections. The program also provides mental health/substance abuse treatment, medication-assisted treatment, medical and dental treatment, vocational and employment placement, and sober housing placement. In addition, the program offers recovery support services, including transportation, a vocational unit, and case management that offers linkages to benefits, money management, relapse prevention, and life skills—along with substance abuse education curricula.

The goal is to expand access to pre- and post-release services to offenders and prevent recidivism. “I give them a push in the right direction,” says Aundra. “It’s very rewarding—it’s a recovery motivation tool for me also.”