Randy Bartlett and Everett Henderson in the Karma Cafe on Tuesday afternoon. The cafe is one of the many businesses that help support the Riverbank House treatment center. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Riverbank House offers open-ended drug and alcohol treatment
By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Randy Bartlett said his problem with substance abuse began in the fourth grade and quickly escalated.
“I had a needle in my arm at 16 and I was almost dead at 21,” he said Wednesday in the Karma Cafe, a restaurant that is part of the treatment and recovery community he runs along the Winnipesaukee River.
At 21, he traded in his drug habit for what he calls chronic workaholism and entrepreneurialism.
His high-energy business drive and salesmanship helped grow his family's multimillion-dollar sign business in Hudson, New Hampshire, over a 10-year period. But then drug abuse returned with a vengeance. Cocaine was his downfall.
“My own struggles with substance misuse caused excruciating heartache and exhaustion for the family and friends who watched helplessly as I rejected every opportunity to be the best version of the person they loved,” he said.
Bartlett cycled in and out of short-term treatment for years, before finally staying clean and sober after a longer-term stint in rehab.
Now, at 49, he has created a treatment program that utilizes the lessons he learned the hard way.
The longer the treatment, the greater the chance for success, so Bartlett has built an open-ended program in which people can stay as long as they want.
“What's different here, and you won't find anything like it anywhere in the country, is that there is no set duration for the program,” he said. “We're prepared to have you stay and build a real foundation.”
In addition to the restaurant, there is a woodworking shop that produces rustic furniture with a natural edge, a charter-boat business, a yoga studio and an athletic club. These businesses are intended to offset some of the costs of Riverbank House, which Bartlett describes as marginally profitable.
The program costs $42,400 for six months, $1,400 a month for the next six months and $774 a month after that. Insurance typically pays for 28 days detox and treatment, which Riverbank House offers, but with the emphasis on longer-term treatment most costs are covered by the clients. A third of the residents are charged reduced rates on a sliding scale based on income.
One success story is Everett Henderson. With more than 25 years experience in the restaurant industry, he is general manager of the Karma Cafe, which is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
He came to Riverbank House for treatment for alcoholism, thinking he would stay a month or two. Henderson has now been in the program for 18 months.
He had underwent treatment elsewhere, but ended up returning to alcohol.
“I was basically doing very well when I fell into an old habit,” he said. “I got into a relationship with a person that did choose to live that lifestyle.
“They say if you hang around a barbershop long enough, you're going to get a haircut.”
He said managing the Karma Cafe is eminently preferable to his previous work in restaurants.
“It's more than just the food, it's the atmosphere of everything that's going on around here,” he said.
“It's very nice to work in the restaurant business where you're not pushing people for their last dollar and then kicking them out at 2 o'clock in the morning.
“It's really part of something that's bigger than ourselves.”
He said he is helping the residents, while he is helping himself and the community.
“I try my best to give everybody a tour. I take them out back to see some of the work. It's not the addicts and alcoholics that are here that they need to worry about. It's the alcoholics and addicts who are not willing to do something about their situation that are a greater concern.”
Andy Bauer in the workshop at Riverbank House building tables out of black walnut on Tuesday afternoon. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Yoga and Karate trainer Tyler Blanchard (right) works with residents in the exercise room at Riverbank House on Tuesday afternoon. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
- Written by Adam Drapcho
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 777