Substance-abuse crisis fuels demand for treatment beds

04 19 substance abuse nav rec

The need for recovery-center beds remains a problem in the Lakes Region, according to Daisy Pierce, executive director, and Philip Spagnuolo and Valene Colby, recovery coaches at Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region in Laconia. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun) 



LACONIA — When it comes to alcohol and drug addiction recovery, the Lakes Region still suffers from a shortage of treatment centers with beds, advocates in the field report.
Tilton planning officials are debating whether to allow a substance abuse recovery center to open at the Tilton Sports Center. The Adult Recovery Center would provide a "curriculum" — typically a three- to five-week treatment program — at 100 Autumn Drive, home of the Tilton Sports Center, according to the application.
"We definitely need it," said Valene Colby, a participant in Belknap County Recovery Court who is active in the substance abuse recovery field. "People are homeless all the time here who are trying to get help."
Colby coaches other addicts through Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region, a grassroots, nonprofit, community organization "dedicated to helping people live a life of recovery from substance misuse."
Philip Spagnuolo, another recovery coach at Navigating Recovery, said, "As far as treatment in the state, right now most rehab facilities are on a wait, anywhere from three to six weeks. So when someone is looking for treatment it's usually they want treatment right then, and it's usually a small window of convincing them to do treatment. So it's really difficult. There aren't enough beds available in the state. Any more beds added would be a bonus."
Daisy Pierce, executive director at Navigating Recovery, said the program works to link people in need with the treatment options available.
"What we try to do is help people with those interim services before they can get into that treatment program because there is such a long wait and oftentimes it's a small window of opportunity to get somebody who's willing," she said. "So we try to meet with them however often they need to keep them on the right track until that bed is available."
The Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center constantly encounters the need for treatment facility openings, according to Joy Moody, volunteer coordinator and family support manager at the center.
"That's one of the hardest challenges we have is finding treatment centers with beds," she said.
Darryl Lennon, a recovery coach with the resource center, said, "We're flooded with people."
In Belknap County, from 2013 to 2014, officials reported a 32 percent increase in opioid-related emergency department visits and a 110 percent increase in opioid-related deaths, according to N.H. Emergency Medical Services and the Office of the Medical Examiner.
Lennon said painkillers have been the "gateway into this epidemic." A self-described "homeless heroin addict," Lennon said his problems escalated after he fell 40 feet off a roof. He took pain medications and developed a dependency.
Another recovery center in the Lakes Region would be welcome, Lennon said, noting, "We're not in competition, we're about saving lives."
Joy Moody, volunteer coordinator and family support manager for the Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center said trauma in her background from abuse formed the backdrop of her addiction. She started drinking at age 13 and taking drugs at age 18. "If someone had just reached out and given me a hand up, I probably would have stopped running a lot earlier," she said.
At Navigating Recovery, Spagnuolo — who reported an addiction to painkillers and then heroin — said "being able to give back" as a recovery coach strengthened his purpose and helped him stay on his recovery path.
Colby agreed, "It's part of my recovery. I'm trying to help other people in this area, especially, that have seen me at my worst, and now are seeing me doing great and know that they can do it, too."
Spagnuolo said people forget "that alcoholism hasn't gone away."
Colby described a progression as a 10-year-old child of "smoking weed and drinking and doing cocaine to eventually doing pills and heroin and then whatever else."

"I'm an addict of any substance," she said.

 • • •

Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region is located at 635 Main St., Suite 303, Laconia. For details, call 603-409-7228.

The Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center is located at 291 Main St Suite 3, Tilton. For details, call 603-286-4255.

Planners wrestle with plan for recovery center at Tilton Sports Center

04 19 substance abuse tilton spts center

The Tilton Sports Center is located in the rural agricultural zone. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)



TILTON — Plans for a substance abuse recovery center at the Tilton Sports Center have created a quandary for local planners, who are approaching a second meeting next month to consider how this addiction-treatment facility may fit with the town's ordinances.
"There isn't a line in the chart of permitted uses in the zoning ordinance that necessarily addresses every use," said Tilton Town Planner Dari Sassan.
Sassan said he suggested that the applicants approach the Planning Board and ask for an adult care facility, which is permitted in the rural agricultural zone.
A hospital or sanitarium is not allowed in this zone. Those types of uses are permitted in Tilton's mixed use district and general commercial district, Sassan said, and potentially by special exception in the resort commercial district.
The Adult Recovery Center would provide a "curriculum" — typically a three- to five-week treatment program — at 100 Autumn Drive, home of the Tilton Sports Center, according to the application.
At a public hearing on March 28, planners heard from a large crowd of residents, many questioning the proposed facility. Some parents at the meeting voiced concerns about the center opening so close to athletic facilities for children, according to WMUR-TV.
A Facebook page, No Opiate Rehab In Tilton, encouraged the public to attend planning board hearings and weigh in on the application.
On Tuesday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. at Tilton Town Hall, the Tilton Planning Board is scheduled to revisit the proposal.
The application has not yet been formally accepted for deliberation, Sassan said, noting review was delayed or "continued" to that meeting.
Planners are trying to "sort out in their own minds" what type of use is proposed, Sassan said.
"They do have a question before them of whether it's a development of regional impact," he said.
On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Sanbornton Planning Board is scheduled to receive an update on the proposal. The agenda reads: 'Update re application to Tilton Planning Board for conversion of Tilton Indoor Sports Complex to overnight opioid rehab center located on Autumn."
Sassan said the Sanbornton community could fall within the scope of a "development of regional impact," a category of land use that by state law involves more than a local concern, typically because the proposed use affects a neighboring municipality.
The law's purpose is to "provide timely notice to potentially affected municipalities concerning proposed developments which are likely to have impacts beyond the boundaries of a single municipality."
A "development of regional impact" expands the number of people who are entitled to notification, and in the case of the Adult Recovery Center application, likely would require another continuance because of a 10-day notice requirement, Sassan said.
Applicants declined to comment on the proposal, noting that updates may be available at a later date.
The application explains, "We are not a detox or medical facility; however, we do employ medical assistants, licensed drug and alcohol counselors, residential treatment staff, awake overnight treatment staff, fitness personnel, and a variety of other staff. All guests must be abstinent from alcohol and illicit drugs for a minimum of 72 hours at the time of admission. Those not coming directly from detox, will be required to provide documentation from a licensed medical provider, certifying that they are detoxed and medically stable. We may require urine or breathalyzer test at time of admission, or at any point during your stay."
The application continues, "We are not a day program or walk in facility. Completion of our curriculum typically requires three to five weeks."
The Planning Board will wrestle with the defined use, and whether a variance, or departure from the zoning ordinance, is needed, Sassan said. If a variance is considered necessary, then the Planning Board likely would send the applicant to the local Zoning Board, he said.
In the past, the town granted a variance to the sports complex allowing for indoor commercial recreational amusement, Sassan said. The site has a diverse history, formerly hosting a film studio, light manufacturing and a warehouse, he said.
The site received a variance in recent years to allow certain types of medical offices, along the lines of noninvasive medicine such as massage and wellness-related health services, Sassan said. The proposal to provide substance-abuse recovery services was a first in Sassan's experience in Tilton.
"I've been in Tilton a little over three years now, and this is the first application that I can think of for something specifically along these lines," Sassan said.
While town officials field questions about methadone clinics and other types of services or facilities specifically geared to alcohol and drug addiction recovery, "this is the first one that has gone forward to a Planning Board hearing," Sassan said.
Based on the state's continuing struggle with opiate addiction, more proposals like this one may follow, Sassan said.
"I expect planning boards in other communities will be dealing with similar matters," he said.

A car dealer with heart

Autoserv gives car to family of man who died in snowmobile accident


TILTON — When Adam Decato, Autoserv technician, heard about Cheryl Bernier's situation through social media, he couldn't help but think of his own family. That thought led to a conversation with others in the dealership, and that conversation culminated on Tuesday afternoon with Bernier being presented with the keys to a vehicle, courtesy of Autoserv.

Bernier's life was turned upside down this winter, when her partner, Nathan Proulx, died on March 11 after a snowmobiling accident in Belmont. He left behind their two daughters, ages 4 and 8. Making a difficult time even harder, both vehicles the family used were registered in Proulx's name, and Bernier was unable to prevent their repossession.

Decato, whose daughter played softball with Proulx and Bernier's older girl, got to know Proulx before his accident because he was part of the crew that constructed an addition to the dealership. Like Bernier, Decato's partner stays at home to care for their children, and the family depends on his income.

"It's kind of the same predicament my fiancee would be in if I passed away, so my heart bled for her," said Decato. In talking with other dealership employees, he found that Deb Daddio, a parts adviser, was Nate Proulx's aunt. Meanwhile, Kristina McCassie, who runs a cafe inside the dealership, had caught wind of the concern and brought it immediately to Donna Gaudet-Hosmer, Autoserv's general counsel.

"I know Donna has a big heart, so I just asked," said McCassie. "It touched my heart, because I love Deb. The fact that they have two young kids and didn't have any way to get them around," she said, compelled her to act.

Soon a plan was hatched, which saw used car manager Ryan Parks finding a car at auction, a 2006 Ford Fusion which Decato volunteered five hours of his time to make road-worthy, and which was presented to an emotional and appreciative Bernier on Tuesday's sunny afternoon.

"It's all so overwhelming," said Bernier. "We've had so much support from the community." A GoFundMe page, set up for a goal to raise $10,000 to help the family, has raised more than $13,000 so far. Other fundraising events are being planned for the coming months.

The GoFundMe page, and other social media sites, provide explanation for the outpouring of support. A U.S. Army veteran, Proulx lent his talents to many in the Belmont area, whether with fall cleanups or snowmobile repair – especially Yamahas.

That's the Proulx that Decato remembers, a man who loved snowmobiling but often spent most of the winter in his shop, working on other people's sleds – even if he wasn't going to get paid for his work.

"He was always there, helping other people," said Decato.

04 18 Autoserv Gives Car

On Tuesday, Autoserv gave a car to Cheryl Bernier of Belmont, whose partner, Nathan Proulx, died this winter in a snowmobiling accident. From left ae sales consultant John Scannell; Roger Clines, who had been a co-worker of Proulx's; Deb Daddio, who works in the parts department; Adam Decato, technician; Olivia Proulx and Cheryl Bernier; Donna Gaudet-Hosmer, Autoserv's general counsel; Kristina McCassie, who operates the cafe in the dealership; sales consultant Dave Miles; Warren Bailey, Autoserv's director of corporate responsibility, and; sales consultant Jeremy Kercheval. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)