Nicholas Basalyga (MSW '14) Cycles Cross Country to Raise Awareness About Addiction
Silver School alumnus Nicholas Basalyga (MSW ’14) is in the final stretch of a cross country bike ride to raise awareness about the country’s epidemic of addiction and generate support for his newly founded non-profit, In The Saddle, which seeks to build a fellowship of recovering individuals through cycling, community service, and group support.
On July 29th, Basalyga left San Francisco on what he dubbed the “Ride Into Recovery Tour.” By the time he arrives home in Philadelphia on October 1st, he will have covered more than 3,400 miles and passed through 51 different cities.
A recovering alcoholic himself, Basalyga explained that after he received his MSW, he managed the America SCORES NY after school program in Harlem, and then worked at the Marworth Treatment Center, an inpatient addiction treatment program in Northeast Pennsylvania. “Given that the national rate of relapse following a 30-day inpatient treatment program is between 60-90%, I felt I was not part of the solution,” he said. “Early recovery is an extremely complicated time for someone. I realized that my own recovery is at its strongest point when I have a support group of recovering individuals around me and when I am cycling, and that is how the seed for In the Saddle got planted.”
According to Basalyga, Philadelphia-based In the Saddle “seeks to establish and grow a fellowship of recovering individuals who support and celebrate one another during the transition from early recovery into long term recovery.” The organization’s services are free and are meant to complement traditional recovery efforts, including, twelve step fellowships, out-patient treatment and individual therapeutic support.
“Our approach is simple,” he said. “We create opportunities for individuals in recovery to connect through activities designed to improve one’s sense of identity, purpose, and belonging. The disease of addiction, or disorder of chemical dependency, is complicated. And, recovery is just as complicated, if not more so. In The Saddle is here to help those navigating that difficult, and often lonely, process – one mile at a time.”
Basalyga credited his professors at the Silver School with nurturing his fundamental, entrepreneurial approach to social work. “I have always looked at systems and how to improve them. I was inspired by the conversations we had in our classrooms, and by having professors who encouraged change however it comes.”