Do Good Samaritan Laws Reduce Overdose Deaths

 

The number one cause of accidental death in the United States is drug overdose. According to statistics, 72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids. Although first responders and EMTs carry the drug naloxone that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, overdose witnesses are often too frightened to call for help for fear of being arrested. In an attempt to reduce avoidable drug-related deaths, all fifty states have passed good Samaritan laws that absolve criminal punishments for the drug user and the person who calls for help.    


Drug Overdose Death

Drug overdoses are a significant public health issue. They are the leading cause of mortality in the United States. Drug overdoses are usually caused by taking too much of a drug, such as opioid painkillers, or by mixing several drugs. People can overdose on alcohol, illicit substances, prescription medication, and other substances.

The most notorious substances that can cause an overdose are the central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. CNS depressants can lower blood pressure and body temperature and slow heart rate and breathing.   

Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 841,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose.

Here is a detailed overview of the number of drug overdose deaths involving many of the more commonly used drugs between 1999 and 2019: 1 

  • In 1999, the number of drug overdose deaths was fewer than 20,000. In 2019, that number rose to 70,630 drug overdose deaths. 
  • The number of overdose deaths due to opioids steadily increased from 21,088 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017. In 2018, the number of cases slightly decreased to 46,802 deaths, followed by a significant increase in 2019 with 49,860 overdose deaths.  
  • Drug overdose deaths due to prescription opioids also increased from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017. The number of deaths decreased to 14,139 in 2019.  
  • Heroin-involved overdose deaths increased from 1,960 in 1999 to 15,469 in 2016. From 2016 to 2019, the number steadily decreased, with 14,019 reported deaths in 2019.  
  • The number of overdose deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential rose from 547 in 1999 to 16,167 in 2019. Cocaine-involved cases also increased from 3,822 cases in 1999 to 15,883 in 2019.  
  • The number of drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines increased from 1,135 in 1999 to 11,537 in 2017. There was a significant decline between 2017 and 2019, with 9,711 deaths in 2019.  
  • Drug overdose deaths involving antidepressants have been on the rise. There were 1,749 reported cases in 1999, compared to 5,269 cases in 2017. Since 2017, the number of overdose deaths has remained steady.    

Spike in Drug Overdose During the Pandemic

Recent reports have found that a record number of Americans died of a drug overdose in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The main reasons for the significant increase in drug overdose deaths were the difficulty of getting treatment during lockdowns.

Moreover, people were isolated at their homes, leading to overdoses because there was no one nearby to call first responders or administer the opioid antidote naloxone. Those struggling with addiction could not attend support group meetings in person or visit their therapists for individual therapy sessions.

Another cause for the increase in overdose deaths was the lacing of cocaine and methamphetamine with fentanyl. Around 70% of cocaine overdose deaths and 50% of methamphetamine overdose deaths also involved fentanyl.

It is reported that the number of drug overdose deaths soared to more than 93,000. That is a 30% increase from 2019, according to provisional data released by the National Center for Health Statistics. 2 Experts say that this number is the biggest increase in drug overdose deaths and the worst overdose crisis in the history of the United States.   

The Impact of COVID on Drug Abuse

Major Causes of Overdose

Synthetic Opioids

The three main types of opioid drugs are opiates, synthetic opioids, and semi-synthetic opioids. Opiates are substances made directly from poppy plants, such as opium, morphine, and codeine.

Synthetic opioids are produced in laboratories and have an internal structure that is similar to natural opioids. Although they have the same effect as opiates, they are not created from the opium poppy plant species but are produced in a pharmaceutical lab. Some of the most common synthetic opioids are fentanyl, methadone, and tramadol.

Semi-synthetic opioids are opioids produced in labs from natural opiates. The most common semi-synthetic opioids are hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and heroin, which are made from morphine.

The number of deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone continued to rise with more than 36,359 overdose deaths in 2019. 2

Synthetic opioids are the main driver of overdose deaths in the United States. According to statistics, 72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids. In 2019, opioids were involved in 49,860 overdose deaths or 70.6% of all drug overdose deaths. 3       

Recognizing Opioid Overdose

An opioid overdose happens when a person ingests more of an opioid substance than the body can handle. Taking opioids in high doses can be dangerous, in some cases even fatal. However, the event can be prevented.

The best way to prevent an overdose is by recognizing the signs and knowing how to react. The most common signs include:4

  • Blue skin (generally the lips and fingertips)
  • Limp body 
  • Pale face 
  • Choking sounds or a gurgling/snoring noise 
  • Erratic or slow heartbeat 
  • Vomiting  
  • Unconsciousness 
  • No breathing 
  • Slow/shallow breathing 
  • Altered mental status    

One of the best ways to save an opioid overdose victim is with the use of naloxone, which blocks off the opioid receptors in the brain and reverses the effects of heroin or prescription painkillers. Naloxone is carried by many first responders, requires no prescription, and has few side effects.    

Understanding the Good Samaritan Law

What Is the Good Samaritan Law?

The Good Samaritan law is a legal concept that dates back to the year 1740. It was created to protect civilians who are trying to help someone else in need. The law essentially states that a person cannot be sued for any injury or damages if they were trying to help someone in need. It means that even if someone causes harm, the person who was being helped does not have grounds for legal action.

These laws were passed after a survey found that calling 911 is often a last resort in the case of an overdose. In the United States, the police are usually notified of a 911 call reporting an overdose and often appear at the scene. One study has found that calling 911 happens only 10%-56% of the time. 5 Considering many individuals who misuse opioids or are witnesses to an overdose are on parole or have outstanding arrest warrants, they fear prosecution if they call for help.

Instead of calling 911, witnesses at the scene often try to revive the victims themselves by injecting them with salt, milk, or stimulants like cocaine. They may also immerse the individual in a cold bath and massaging their hearts. Interventions such as these are generally ineffective and can cause further damage to the victim.

Good Samaritan laws offer limited immunity from arrest, charge, and prosecution for the possession of certain drugs and drug paraphernalia.   

Understanding the Good Samaritan Law

Types of Protection

In most cases, good Samaritan laws protect medical professionals when they do not have a pre-existing duty to provide care to the patient. To be granted protection, they must have responded to an emergency off the clock. A medical professional has a pre-existing duty if:

  • the victim is a current patient
  • they are contractually obligated to provide care to the victim 
  • there is an on-call agreement that requires the medical professional to provide services   

Effectiveness

Currently, the evidence regarding the effectiveness of good Samaritan laws in terms of a reduced number of drug-related deaths and an increase in calls to emergency medical services (EMS) is limited and mixed.

Some studies show that people who use drugs lack awareness about the existence of good Samaritan laws, while other studies suggest the laws are effective in increasing calls to EMS at the scene of an overdose. More research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of these laws in reducing drug-related harms. 6    

Law by State

Inconsistent State Policies

In the United States, all fifty states and the District of Columbia have good Samaritan laws. However, provisions of these laws can slightly vary from one state to another by jurisdiction, who is protected from liability, and under what circumstances.

For example, in most cases, a bystander cannot be held liable for not offering assistance. However, according to good Samaritan laws in Minnesota, Vermont, and Rhode Island, bystanders must act in some limited capacity.

Moreover, good Samaritan laws in some states like Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania protect anyone who tries to help in an emergency, while the laws in other states are specific to certain situations. For instance, according to Alabama’s good Samaritan laws, only trained rescuers and public education employees are protected and can get involved unless the emergency is a cardiac arrest. In Oklahoma, the good Samaritan laws offer protection for bystanders but only if the emergency assistance involves CPR or controlling bleeding.

In most states, these laws do not provide complete civil immunity for the bystander or the person who overdosed. According to state policy in Georgia, a person can still be charged if they have more than four grams of a substance at the time of the call. Drug dealers are also prosecuted to the full extent of the law.    

What Is the Purpose of Good Samaritan Laws?

Many good Samaritan laws were initially passed to protect physicians from liability when providing care outside their usual clinical setting.

Today, the interest in good Samaritan laws is related to the current opioid crisis. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and the most commonly abused drugs are opioids. As a response to the opioid crisis, many states passed good Samaritan laws that address this issue. 7

The goal of the good Samaritan laws passed by every state in the United States is to encourage victims and witnesses to call 911 by giving them a certain degree of civil immunity and thus reduce the number of overdose deaths.     

Factors Limiting the Use of Good Samaritan Laws

Even if a state has a Good Samaritan law, several factors limit the use of good Samaritan laws by the public or criminal justice professionals.  

Lack of Awareness

Lack of awareness is one of the leading factors for the limited use of good Samaritan laws. One survey conducted in Baltimore, Maryland, found that people who inject drugs are unaware of the good Samaritan laws. This lack of awareness is a major barrier to preventing overdose deaths.

In addition, people who inject drugs are not the only ones who lack awareness about the existence of good Samaritan laws. In a survey of Seattle police officers, only 16% were aware of the law, and 7% could correctly identify the law’s protections. 8       

Skepticism

Another major cause for the limited use of good Samaritan laws is the skepticism people have of authority. Many individuals who are at risk for encountering an overdose report a strong skepticism that the law will protect them. Skepticism is more prevalent in individuals with criminal histories, such as outstanding warrants or probation status. These individuals, especially those who inject drugs, are less likely to call for help during an overdose. 9   

Lack of Trust

In addition to skepticism and lack of awareness, lack of trust also prevents individuals from calling for help. Many individuals, especially those who are also using illegal substances, have a fear of criminal prosecution. Studies show that these individuals may hesitate to call for help out of a lack of trust in the authorities despite being aware of good Samaritan laws. They may fear arrest or getting others in trouble.  

Role of Prevention Practitioners

A prevention practitioner is someone who works to prevent violence and crime. They might work as a social worker, probation officer, teacher, or police officer. Prevention practitioners can play a crucial role in increasing awareness of the good Samaritan law and educating relevant stakeholders on what they entail.  

Educating Law Enforcement

Law officers play an important role in raising awareness about the good Samaritan laws. Prevention practitioners can educate law enforcement officers through online training, educational videos, and in-person department training. 

Educating Other Criminal Justice Professionals

Prevention practitioners can educate other criminal justice professionals authorized to charge, prosecute, and provide legal assistance to people who commit drug-related crimes. Education can happen through presentations or distributing communication materials in district attorney and public defender offices or professional conferences.   

Educating Drug Abusers

Prevention practitioners can educate drug abusers about the existence and protection offered by the good Samaritan laws. Education can happen through informational materials, at drug treatment facilities, or via targeted public service announcements. 

Educating Individuals Who Use Prescription Drugs

Educating individuals who use prescription drugs is another way of increasing the effectiveness of the good Samaritan laws and putting an end to the opioid epidemic. Prevention practitioners can use flyers, online public service announcements, and social media marketing to raise awareness.     

Educating the General Public

Educating the general public can happen in several ways, including through broad awareness campaigns, public service announcements on television, social media promotion, billboards, posters and flyers, or advertisements on transportation hubs and vehicles.   

A Discussion on the Good Samaritan Laws

Benefits of Good Samaritan Laws

Reduce Barriers

One of the most notable benefits of good Samaritan laws is reducing the barriers many people have when it comes to offering care to those in need.

Some common barriers include lack of awareness, distrust in authorities, and skepticism. For example, some states offer protection from prosecution in exchange for police cooperation and drug treatment. Moreover, in some cases, protection from prosecution is not enough to encourage people to call 911. Many people who use drugs do not know the difference between arrest and prosecution.

Other barriers include probation and parole violations, immigration and child welfare consequences, outstanding warrants, trespassing, or sales or drug-induced homicide charges. By properly educating the masses about the protection good Samaritan laws offer, people will be more encouraged to call for medical attention in the event of an overdose.   

Save Victims

Reducing barriers to calling 911 can save lives. According to studies, people are more likely to assist someone in need if they have a prior understanding of the good Samaritan laws. An evaluation of Washington State’s Good Samaritan law shows that 88% of people who use opioids said they would be more likely to call 911 if they are witnesses to an overdose after learning about the law. 10    

Cari Renfro

Administrative Director

Cari has worn a variety of hats before coming to Stages of Recovery – in a past life, she was in advertising sales, association management, corporate event planning and property management. Hailing from West Texas, Cari grew up in Midland before attending Texas Tech University. Always creative and an over-achiever, she graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Advertising before moving to Florida for the next seven years. A true Texan at heart, Cari returned to the Lone Star State and pursued a career in property management where she earned national designations in leasing, apartment management and obtained her real estate license. In 2015, she met Stages of Recovery owner Stephen Medley by chance. Recognizing her style and resourcefulness, he challenged Cari to head up the renovation of the men’s Transitional Housing properties in Lubbock and Waco (check them out – they look pretty great if we say so ourselves!). Given her knack for organization and execution, the Stages family officially welcomed Cari in 2020 to assist behind the scenes in administration, operations and marketing – she’s here to make us look good! In her spare time, Cari’s pastimes include cooking, interior design and doting on her Scottish Folds – Birdie and Apollo. 

Words to Live by: 

“Why cope when you can eliminate?”

Rommel Hover, BSW, LCDC-I

Therapist
Lubbock

“Mel” is originally from Angeles City, Philippines. He graduated from Lubbock Christian University with a degree in Social Work. One of the newest clinicians to join Stages in 2020. Mel has over 20 years in Residential inpatient services and is known for his willingness to go above and beyond for others. He is skilled in Mindfulness and serves with a true heart of service. Like many, Mel has had many experiences and challenges in his life that have equipped him to keep pushing forward. These experiences allow him to make deep and meaningful connections with those he helps. When working with clients, he champions the mindset that every human needs three things: TO BE HEARD, TO BE SEEN, AND TO HAVE A SENSE OF PURPOSE. Mel’s motto in life is simply to “Be you” and to not allow anyone or anything to deter you from this. 

Favorite Quote 

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee 

Cole Watts

COO and Program Director

Cole and Medley founded The Door Sober Living Community together. Cole is the details behind the program. As Program Director, he conceived and implemented The Door concept and has written multiple grants for this program and others. He is talented at blending the nature of business practices into the field of social services. Cole was born and raised in Lubbock and has been in recovery for over ten years, proving that you can get clean in the same town you live in. He is a proud graduate of the Lubbock County Drug Court program and advocates that Drug Courts work. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in social work from Texas Tech University. Cole has an inspirational wife, Veronica, and two beautiful children, Eliana and Wyatt. His focus in the company is to make sure that the activities stay true to the spirit of recovery and the mission and vision of the company.  

“I’m passionate about guiding people out of their mental sense of lack and into freedom.”

Stephen O’Dell, CFP®

CFO and Business Development

Stephen O’Dell has been with Stages of Recovery for over 12 years. He has served in many roles as the company has continued to grow. He is currently one of the owners and the CFO. He also does direct business development and admissions for those in need of services. Stephen’s time with Stages began when he was a client learning how to live his new life in Recovery. He began his journey at the young age of 18 with big dreams and goals. Stages of Recovery provided him with the tools, guidance, and community needed to build a life worth living. Stephen later achieved his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Personal Financial Planning in 2016 and 2017 from Texas Tech University, with the help of a scholarship from the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities (CRC). He went on to get his CFP® Mark (Certified Financial Planner) in 2018. Stephen’s unique personal and his extensive professional experience makes him a great fit to help you and your family navigate the complicated process of finding help for your loved one in need.  

Many people think of Wealth as a monetary value. O’Dell defines Wealth as “The relentless pursuit of a desired lifestyle, and the strategic maintenance of that lifestyle”- Stephen O’Dell. With the help of Stages you and your family can begin to define what your goals are and begin the process of healing together.  

Addiction Treatment Admission

Stephen “Medley”

CEO and Business Development Director

Stephen “Medley” is the founding owner of Stages of Recovery, Inc. and The Door Sober Living Community. A visionary with a passion to help those in recovery, he saw a need in the community and decided to take matters into his own hands. Medley has over twenty years of recovery time. After getting clean at the age of nineteen, he knows firsthand how to show many of our younger clients that it is still possible to have fun in recovery. Medley graduated from Texas Tech University as a member of the Collegiate Recovery Community at the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Medley is the leader of the company and an inspiration to all staff members. Medley understands the power of knowing why; why we made poor decisions and the importance of knowing and remembering why we don’t want to make them again.  

“I’m passionate about helping individuals realize and reach their dreams by focusing on their WHY.”  

Anthony McClain

Chief Client Relations Officer, Transitional Living Operations 

A Pennsylvania native, Anthony left home when he was 21 during an active addiction – he thought he had it all figured out. Anthony moved from Wyoming to Montana to Colorado. His addiction progressed, causing him to neglect priorities like relationships, rent, and job opportunities. Eventually, Anthony found himself homeless and broken spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Anthony researched a treatment center in the Dallas area that was able to fly him down to Texas. He was a client there for 57 days. While at treatment, Anthony heard of The Door Sober Living and the recovery that Lubbock had to offer. Anthony took a greyhound to Lubbock and in 2012, Anthony stayed at The Door for six months before moving out. Without The Door’s accountability and structure, he fell back into addictive behavior for several months. Anthony checked into the Ranch at Dove Tree, where he stayed for 30 days. Upon successful completion, Anthony returned to The Door Sober Living on May 19, 2013. This time, Anthony signed a one-year agreement and expressed great willingness to maintain sobriety. In July 2014, when a previous house manager moved in with his fiancé, Anthony was asked to step up and take on his duties. This then, Anthony has grown into the Client Relations House Manager. His continued dedication to recovery and belief in the Stages of Recovery program as a whole led to an opportunity in 2017 to become the fourth owner of Stages. 

Melissa Silva, LCDC-Intern

Clinical Supervisor, Therapist Lubbock

Melissa currently works as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor-Intern and as the Administrative Director at Stages of Recovery. Along with working at Stages of Recovery, she works with adolescents in the Parent Empowerment Project. She has worked in the recovery field since 2015, with a focus on substance use disorder and helping families heal. She pursued work in addiction because of her academic, professional, and community involvement, as well as her personal experiences. Melissa’s work has allowed her to dive deeper into the field of addiction and recovery and to expose her genuine love for the betterment of other’s lives. Currently, she is a doctoral student at Northcentral University and pursues her degree as a Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy. Melissa received her bachelor’s degree in Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences at Texas Tech University and her master’s degree in Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy at Texas Tech Tech. She was a member of The Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities at Texas Tech University.  

“It takes one person to believe in you.”

Lynn Whitfield, LPC

Therapist
Lubbock

Lynn has been an LPC for nearly eight years. By volunteering at the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, she became interested in addiction and recovery. Her practicum in graduate school included working with veterans and women in recovery through art therapy techniques. Lynn is a member of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors and the West Texas Counseling Association. Along with her Marriage and Family Master’s degree, she holds a Master’s degree in art therapy. Lynn’s unique background allows Stage’s clients to introduce and foster creativity throughout their personal recovery. Lynn is a former classroom teacher, grades 1-8.  She is certified in all-level art and counseling. 

Favorite Quote 

“Imagination rules the world.” Napoleon.

Ashley Loveless, LMSW

Therapist
Lubbock

Ashley Loveless, Licensed Master Social Worker, earned her Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Social Work and Spanish from Texas Tech University in 2014. Ashley proceeded to obtain a Master of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University in 2017. Ashley has been a licensed and practicing LMSW since 2014 and has worked in many private and non-profit sectors including administrative roles, hospice roles, sexual assault counseling, sex-trafficking rescue/counseling, and mental health. She began her career as a Correctional Mental Health Social Worker at Montford State Psychiatric Prison/Hospital in Lubbock, TX in 2014. She has been employed part-time with Stages of Recovery since February 2019 as a Mental Health Counselor, co-leading early recovery groups and taking on individual clients. Ashley works full-time at Hospice of Lubbock as a medical social worker. Ashley and her husband Paul, have four daughters, Sophie, Harper, Sawyer, and Bowen and a dog named Lincoln. Ashley enjoys traveling, yoga, baking, and adventure.  

Averie Holder, LMSW

Therapist
Lubbock

Averie is a graduate from Texas Tech University with her Bachelors of Social Work in 2018 than in 2020 with her Masters of Social Work. Averie has been working within the area of addiction and recovery since August of 2018 when she started her Bachelor of Social Work field practicum with Stages of Recovery. Averie decided to work with addiction and recovery because of her passion for seeing people better themselves. Averie believes everyone can change, and she shows a clear love for being part of the process and empowering individuals along the way. Averie has been in recovery herself since October of 2017. She has two adorable dogs, Rockie and Chewie. In Averie’s free moments, you can catch her spending time with her partner, watching reality TV, or playing video games. 

“I love to get in the trenches with the people that I work with, fight with them for their change. I believe anyone, no matter what they have been through, has the ability to overcome.” 

Stephanie Franklin, LMFT, LCDC

Therapist
Waco

Stephanie moved from her hometown of San Antonio to Lubbock, TX in 2011 to begin a long journey toward self-growth and healing. She graduated from Texas Tech University with Bachelor degrees in Psychology, and Science in Human Development and Family Studies. After a year of work in the chemical dependency field, Stephanie went on to graduate with a Masters in Couple, Marriage and Family Therapy (with a focus in Addiction in the Family) in 2018. After receiving support from countless loving individuals during her struggle with mental illness, it has been Stephanie’s mission to extend the same level of compassion and care to her clients. She believes counseling is a way for individuals, couples and families to share their experiences and pain, and find ways to transform their darkness into light. Stephanie is especially interested in working with adolescents and adults struggling with addiction and substance abuse, at-risk populations, and couples/families. She works from a systemic perspective with all clients; meaning she gathers information about all areas of an individual’s life to assess needs and the effects that each area may have on the others. Looking through a systemic lens offers the ability for individuals to create lasting transformations through self-awareness about their unmet needs in multiple areas. In her personal life, Stephanie spends most of her time with my husband and their five goofball dogs. She’s a PokemonGo, Disney, and Taylor Swift enthusiast and she enjoys creative outlets including make-up artistry, painting and interior design.

Jarrod Bray

Transitional Housing, Men’s
Waco

Jarrod is from Abilene, Texas where he graduated from Abilene Christian University with a BS in environmental science. There he began the journey that ultimately led him to Stages of Recovery. Jarrod was ruled by the disease of addiction for over 8 years and is now coming up on four years of sobriety. He currently resides in Waco where he found sobriety, peace, freedom, and purpose. Jarrod has worked with kids for the majority of his adult life as an outdoor instructor/guide, as well as recreation staff at countless camps across the US including Texas, North Carolina, and California. In addition to providing support at our Transitional Living community in Waco, Jarrod works as a recreation therapist at Waco Center for Youth where he mentors at-risk youth. He also moonlights as a Disc Jockey all around Texas. 

“I chose to work in recovery because it saved my life. I connect with the guys that come through Stages. The same goes for the kiddos at WCY. I know the feeling of hopelessness and I hope to continue helping others out of that pit. The way of life afforded me through sobriety is something I hope to continue to give back to others as long as I am alive.” 

Favorite Quote: 

“I Understood Myself Only After I Destroyed Myself. And Only In The Process Of Fixing Myself, Did I Know Who I Really Was.” Sade Andria Zabala

Steve Richardson, LMSW, LCDC, CCTS

Therapist
Waco

Steve Richardson is a husband, father, and grandfather. He is also a man in long-term recovery and has a son in recovery as well. Through this journey, few would find it difficult to relate to Steve, making him especially adept at developing relationships with clients and their families. Recovery is so central to his life, that at the age of 52, Steve closed a successful consulting firm and returned to school to become a licensed clinical social worker, as well as a licensed chemical dependency counselor. His education includes a BA in Literature from Texas Tech University, a BS in Psychology at Tarleton State University and a MA in Social Work at the University of Southern California. Along with his extensive education, degrees and training, he brings 50+ years of life experience to every individual, family and group session. Steve believes that no one’s illness should dictate the quality of their future and that their pain and struggle are real. Every addict’s life matters and there is always hope. In other words, no one’s future is carved in stone. His certainly wasn’t. 

Favorite Quote 

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein 

Stacy Hobbs, MSN, APRN

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Stacy has worked in various positions as psychiatric support staff and administration before going to nursing school. After nursing school, she worked for a Level I Trauma Center in the Emergency Department. She realized how many people suffer from mental health and substance use disorders and felt compelled to return to school to become a PMHNP. In addition to working for Stages, she also has a private practice seeing patients with dual diagnosis. She provides extensive care through evaluation, diagnosis, treatment with medication as well as supportive therapy. Stacy has been in recovery since February 5, 1997. The 12-step rooms in Lubbock and the relationships found in them have been the foundation of her recovery. She grew up in Plainview and lived in Lubbock for many years where she pursued her BSN and MSN at Texas Tech University Health Science Center. Stacy has a deep appreciation for West Texas – it’s part of who she is. She currently lives on a ranch outside of Waco with her husband Larry, of 20 years. They have a daughter and two granddaughters, and a son who is attending Texas Tech University.  

“I felt like God was always calling me to work in mental health, but after I got into recovery, I knew. I love my work and I especially love working with college age patients. If I can make a difference in one person’s life, it has all been worth it! 

Tommy Willis

Group Facilitator
Lubbock

Tommy was raised in Tulia, Texas and is married to his first love, Rosalind. They are volunteers for the state of Texas’ program called “Twogether in Texas”, where engaged couples undergo an eight hour workshop. They dedicate their time as a couple to marriage ministry and outreach in the community. Together they have six children and twelve grandchildren. Tommy has been with Stages of Recovery since 2018. He has a Master’s in Addictions Counseling. He is currently in the process of obtaining his LPC Associate and LCDC licenses. Tommy began his recovery in December 2001. He’s driven to give back to the recovery community after seeing so many friends and family who suffered from addiction lose their lives. His journey hasn’t been easy and if he can help the next man, woman, boy or girl choose a different path than he did, it fills his heart with joy.  

Favorite Quote 

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” John Wooden

Mechie Scherpereel

business development

Mechie went through Stages of Recovery 10 years ago with the dream of one day obtaining a degree and providing for his daughter. He had his daughter at five months sober and started working as a janitor at Texas Tech University in 2011. After discharging from Stages of Recovery, Mechie received a scholarship at Texas Tech and The Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery. Not only did he receive his Bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech, he pursued his Masters in 2014. Mechie has committed his life to helping others and lives by the motto that he doesn’t care about their feelings, he cares about their lives. His humble roots, passion to help others, and commitment to being his best self is what we at Stages of Recovery embody! We are ready to make shock waves in recovery with this guy!

Dustin Huckabe

business development

Dustin is in long-term recovery and has been sober since May of 2011. He is from San Antonio, TX and is married to his lovely wife, Emma. They moved to Lubbock, TX where Dustin attended The Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities at Texas Tech University. Upon Emma’s graduation from Texas Tech in May of 2018, they relocated to Moore, OK, where Dustin graduated in 2020 with his bachelor’s degree in Social Work and recently achieved his master’s degree in Social Work from The University of Oklahoma. Dustin is also the recipient of the National Collegiate Recovery Student of the year award in 2019 for his tireless work building a recovery space on campus for students. Dustin was also the BSW student of the year in 2019 as well as a two-time recipient of the Anne and Henry Zarrow Social Justice Award for 2020-2021. Dustin has sat on numerous boards of directors in the Oklahoma community. His passion, education and ability to help others gain a life of purpose and meaning are just a few reasons why we are excited to have him on our team! 

Matthew Vasquez, LCDC-I

Therapist Lubbock

Matt obtained his bachelor’s degree in Addiction Counseling in 2017 and his master’s in 2020 in the same area of study. In 2020 Stages of Recovery welcomed him as an intern which quickly turned into a part-time then full-time position, assisting with groups and transitional housing at the men’s properties in Lubbock. Matt began his journey in counseling because he wanted to help people struggling with the disease of addiction, by being a role model and helping them realize the potential they have in recovery.   

Seeing people succeed in recovery and change their lives for the better fuels Matt to continually offer support and leadership to the recovery community here at Stages. 

“I have experienced the joy and peace that comes with sobriety and want to share that and show others that there is a way out of the darkness that is addiction.” 

Favorite quotes: 

“Pain is certain, Suffering is optional.” Gautama Buddha 

“Don’t compare yourself with other people; compare yourself with who you were yesterday.” Jordan Peterson

Lora Davis

Transitional Housing, Women’s
Lubbock

Lora heads up the Stages Transitional Living Women’s House in Lubbock as a live-in House Manager. She brings three years of recovery and a deep passion for helping women pursue their own journey of recovery. Originally from Amarillo, TX, she lived there her entire life where she married her highschool sweetheart – they have four children and six grandchildren. In 2017 she moved to Lubbock to begin a residential treatment program. While there, Lora graduated from the facility’s Mentor Program as a support peer. She continued that supportive role as she transitioned to Gina’s House, an all-female sober living program. Soon, she became a House Manager and Senior Peer Advisor where she offered leadership and support to women entering sober living for the first time. In 2019, Stages was seeking a Women’s House Manager and the Director of Gina’s House personally recommended Lora for the job. In her time at Stages, it’s clear that “Mama Lo” earns respect through her dedication and approachable nature at our women’s house. In 2020, she obtained her Certification for Trauma Support Specialist and wishes to pursue further education in trauma counseling to continue helping women in recovery. In her spare time, Lora enjoys crafts, crocheting, jigsaw puzzles and crosswords.

Seaver Richardson

Transitional Housing, Men’s
Waco

Seaver is a certified recovery coach and has worked in the treatment industry for over four years. He was born in Irving, TX and was raised in Grapevine. Seaver has been celebrating sobriety since 2015. He’s highly active in the Waco recovery community as a 12-step sponsor and mentor, and has helped found Waco’s first DAA (Drug Addicts Anonymous) meeting. As Chief Client Relations Officer and Lead House Manager at Stages Waco, he works directly with clients on a daily basis, providing them guidance, structure and accountability while helping them develop the coping skills necessary to achieve long-term sobriety. Seaver has completed coursework at Tarrant County Community College, Texas Tech University, and Schreiner University). In addition to working for Stages, he’s a proud son, brother, uncle and dog-dad. 

“My ‘why’ is simple. I want to make a difference. God has allowed me to become a voice for the voiceless. Being able to advocate for other addicts/alcoholics like myself and using my past experiences (good and bad) to help them is the bright spot of my life.” 

Favorite Quote 

“A man’s greatness is not measured by his ability to rise for one shining moment, it is measured by his capacity to remain standing while mired in darkness.” Steve Richardson

Jordan Diaz

Waco

Jordan graduated from the University of Colorado in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in finance. He joined Stages of Recovery in July of 2020, and has been in active recovery since October of 2018. Jordan was born and raised in Waco, TX. He strongly believes that working with Stages of Recovery adds purpose and meaning to life, and is one way to pass along that which was freely given to him – the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. Stages has entrusted Jordan with several responsibilities including assisting the transitional housing team at the men’s property in Waco, admissions and working as a mentor and accountability partner to men and women in our facility as part of Stage’s Client Development program. 

Stephen “Medley”

CEO and Business Development Director

Stephen “Medley” is the founding owner of Stages of Recovery, Inc. and The Door Sober Living Community. A visionary with a passion to help those in recovery, he saw a need in the community and decided to take matters into his own hands. Medley has over twenty years of recovery time. After getting clean at the age of nineteen, he knows firsthand how to show many of our younger clients that it is still possible to have fun in recovery. Medley graduated from Texas Tech University as a member of the Collegiate Recovery Community at the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Medley is the leader of the company and an inspiration to all staff members. Medley understands the power of knowing why; why we made poor decisions and the importance of knowing and remembering why we don’t want to make them again.  

“I’m passionate about helping individuals realize and reach their dreams by focusing on their WHY.”