A Q&A with: Victor McKenzie Jr., executive director, SAARA

The Phil

March 30, 2021

“Community outreach is in our DNA,” said Victor McKenzie Jr., executive director of Substance Abuse and Recovery Alliance of Virginia, when we caught up with him to learn more about the organization, its mission and how it serves the community.

Getting to know: Victor McKenzie Jr. with SAARA of Virginia

Richmond Times-Dispatch

March 6, 2021

Title: Executive director of SAARA of Virginia. SAARA stands for Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance, a nonprofit that works to empower those struggling with substance use disorder, their loved ones and their community to seek recovery and healing.

Episode 7: Staying Connected in a Syndemic with Jason Cox

Peer Into Recovery Podcast

February 9, 2021

Fostering connection is a core tenet of peer support. In a syndemic, what are our options for building relationships and maintaining our support network? We talk about the successes and challenges of peer recovery support while in the midst of concurrent epidemics. 

Eagles Nest expands as overdose deaths soar

Abby Whitt, SWVA Today

January 19, 2021

“There could be a treatment center on every block, but it wouldn’t matter until someone is ready (for) a deep personal commitment (to sobriety),” Cox said. “For those that are really ready to give up that way of life, there are plenty of resources out there, even during the pandemic.”

Pandemic triggers ‘enormous’ spike in drug overdose deaths

Jeff South, Virginia Mercury 

November 19, 2020

Victor McKenzie Jr., executive director of the Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance of Virginia, said, “For so many people, their recovery is really anchored on social interactions – those peers, other folks who have been through it, whether it’s recovery groups or 12 steps.” He said the pandemic “kind of cut that lifeline off.”

SAARA and other organizations responded by shifting counseling and other assistance online. “However, that doesn’t always replace that human contact,” McKenzie said. As a result, McKenzie said, people already struggling with addiction faced other issues: “‘Am I going to be able to pay my bills? Am I going to be able to stay in my house? Am I going to be able to afford food?’ All of a sudden, you have these added stressors and triggers that make it really hard for someone to focus on their recovery.”

Panel provides tips on how to stay mentally healthy during stressful times

News 3 WKTR

May 21, 2020

The panelists gave viewers advice and some tips on how to keep themselves mentally well and feeling good during these stressful times.

Isolation could exact toll on those with mental health and substance abuse problems in Virginia 

Patrick Wilson, Richmond Times-Dispatch

March 27, 2020

“We’re already dealing with the disease of addiction,” said Hantelman, a peer recovery specialist at the Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance (SAARA) of Virginia. “Then you bring in coronavirus and quarantines and kids out of school and not being able to find toilet paper.”