LACONIA — Less than two years ago, Nicole Center was arrested on a drug charge and it looked like she might end up serving jail time and becoming virtually unemployable because she would have had a criminal record.
But today, thanks to the Nathan Brody program at Horizons Counseling Center in Gilford and the Recovery Court program at the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia division, she has turned her life around.
''The detective who arrested me saw that I had drug problem and really needed help,'' says Center, who says she has now been sober for 13 months and was recently promoted to a manager's position at DeAngelo's sandwich shop in Concord.
Not only that, she's also engaged and says that her relationship with her nine and half year old son, Calvin, has greatly improved.
''I was present in his life, but I was never really a part of it until the last few years. Now I'm able to show him the love and care he needs and he's proud of me.'' says Center.
''I can't say enough good about the programs that I've been involved in. They taught me how to live and take care of myself. I now know that I am a valuable person and that's something I didn't think I would think of myself as. And I'm engaged and I never thought that would happen. My life is completely different now,'' says Center.
She said that she was addicted to the pain killer percocet and knows that she has continually work on her addiction problem, one day at a time. In addition to working 50 hours a week, she now attends twice weekly meetings as part of the Recovery Court program as well as five AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings a week.
''I just wish there was help for more people in my situation. The local Recovery Court program really needs funding and support from the community,'' she says.
Center attended an open house Wednesday at the Horizons Counseling Center marking a celebration of Recovery Month at which Judge James Carroll of the Laconia Circuit Court and Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbransden were honored for their efforts in making the Recovery Court work.
The Recovery Court initiative brought together the county Department of Corrections, the Public Defender's Office, the County Attorney, the county Restorative Justice Program and the District Court in a cooperative effort to engage offenders with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders in an intensive treatment and skills building program. The program is geared toward supporting recovery and engendering responsibility and accountability through community service, education and employment.
Jacqui Abikoff of Horizons Counseling Center, noted that 14 people have taken part in the Recovery Court program since it started and said that she still remembers Judge Carroll said early on that despite the lack of funding that those involved would ''find a way to do it.''
Carroll said after he was presented his award that he was accepting it ''on behalf of the team'' and praised those who had made the Recovery Court program work.
Guldbransden, who said that she was initially very skeptical about the program, said that she was was pleased to see how it had improved the lives of people in the program.
CAPTION pix slugged Nicole Center:
Nicole Center of Gilmanton says that her participation in the Recovery Court program has helped change her life. ''I now know that I am a valuable person'' says Center, who is a manager at DeAngelo's in Concord and recently became engaged and says that she has developed a healthy relationship with her nine and a half year old son. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun).
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