New Hampshire is in the midst of a drug epidemic. The state’s Medical Examiner’s office says drug-related deaths have risen to a record high of 300 in 2014. To combat the most addictive drugs, lawmakers will consider tripling funding for the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.
Of those three things, recovery services are severely lacking in New Hampshire, compared to neighboring states.
Cheryle Pacapelli is the Director of the nonprofit Hope for New Hampshire Recovery. She joins Morning Edition to discuss how she hopes to bring more recovery services into the state.
You are planning to open a recovery community center in Portsmouth this year. And another one in Manchester, down the road. They would be operated by former addicts and family members of former addicts. And it’s worth pointing out for those who don’t know, that recovery is different from treatment. So, what are the holes for recovery you are trying to fill in the state?
Well, one thing that happens is people, when they end up in the emergency room for any kind of an addiction, they get treated, medically cleared and then they leave. Where, what we are trying to do is provide them with a service when they leave.
It’s a difference between detoxing and getting off whatever drug you were addicted to and then, of course, the long term implications of staying sober.
Absolutely. Treatment gets you medically cleared, starts educating you about what addiction is and how it affects you. And recovery is the long term process of maintaining that.
What kinds of programs will addicts and people in recovery be able to receive at these recovery centers?
We’ll be able to call you once a week, check on how your recovery is going, and see if there are any services we can provide. Also, having a recovery community center in your service area, you can come in during the day. You’ll be able to use computers, we’ll help with resumes, interviewing, how to get a job…reteaching you some basic skills. We’ll also provide some social networking so that other people in recovery can help you.
Are there any other centers like this in the granite state that have this all-around support for addicts?
Actually New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not have recovery centers in the state. It’s an absolutely invaluable tool, for people to be able to go to a place where they know that they can get the support they need, that no one there is using drugs or alcohol and that they can be safe. That initial, right after you get out of treatment, is when you’re most vulnerable. So being able to provide those services right up front will allow people to maintain and sustain their recovery. …But I know that in Connecticut and Massachusetts—Connecticut is where I came from—they have three community centers and they saw, each center saw 15,000 a year. So the need is there and I just don’t think the funding has been there in the past in New Hampshire and hopefully the governor’s budget will allow for that this year.
You encourage people to “come out” as an addict in recovery, as you and those working with you have done. How important is it for other addicts to hear from the people treating them that they were former addicts themselves?
I think it’s really important on a few different levels. One is that it gives people hope. That people do recover. Typically, we go into treatment and we end up in a basement, in a 12-step group, and never publicly come out and say that ‘I got well. This is what I did to get well.’ There’re 23 million people in long term recovery in the United States but there’s only a handful of people who actually admit that they were able to treat their disease and recover.