Off to a good start

Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region already helping the addicted

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region, a resource center for those seeking to overcome the disease of addiction and pursue a path to recovery, will celebrate its grand opening next month, but in the meantime is already serving some three dozen clients since beginning to accept them in December.

"We're fighting back," said Philip Spagnuolo, vice president of the organization and and one of a dozen volunteer recovery coaches at the center. "Our efforts are making a difference."

The center is housed at 635 Main St. on the third floor of the building at the corner of Main Street and Canal Street above Greenlaw's Music and Audio. The space includes a large room, bathed in natural light with brick and painted walls and hardwood floors beneath a freshly painted tin ceiling. There are several private rooms where recovery coaches meet with clients. Daisy Pierce, executive director of the center, said that it provides a safe place to host social events and meetings and where peer-to-peer support services are a priority.

Pierce said that Navigating Recovery welcomes anyone seeking to escape from substance abuse, whether from drugs or alcohol, in all stages of recovery, including those who may still be using and others may be fresh from de-tox or rehabilitation. She said that Adams refers clients to the center, and when a patient who has overdosed who is willing to meet with a recovery coach one is sent to the hospital. But, Pierce stressed that anyone may call, text or walk in between 9.m. and 5 p.m. to schedule an appointment and that the center provides its services without charge.

The first step in the process for the coach and the client to develop a recovery plan. Spagnuolo explained that there are many paths to recovery and the center is open to all of them.

"We provide as many options as we can," he said, recognizing that what works for some may not work for others. "We are open to all of them and provides as many options as we can."

Spagnuolo said the first step may be to refer a client to a primary care physician, who may prescribe what he called "comfort drugs" to ease the agony of withdrawal, or to Horizons Counseling Center, where licensed drug and alcohol counselors are available. He said that recovery is not something that can be done alone. "You can't do it by yourself," he said, "but if the person is willing to do the work necessary to stay sober, we can help. But, it's not easy."

The recovery coaches at the center, most in recovery themselves, have completed a week-long training program and all are pursuing further certification as certified recovery support workers while the center itself is also seeking accreditation. With certification of its recovery coaches and accreditation, the center would be entitled to bill Medicaid and private insurers for its services.

Pierce said that none of recovery coaches consider they have a full case load and expects that the center will have capacity to serve between 50 and 75 clients a week. She said with Hope for Recovery in Franklin and the Greater Tilton Family Resource Center, she anticipates that the center will serve most of the municipalities in Belknap County.

Apart from working with individual clients, the center hosts meetings of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery and Celebrate Recovery and holds health and wellness workshops, Dick Smith and Elaine Morrison will be offering art therapy and the center will also be home to yoga and meditation classes. Spagnuolo said that the center will offer a place for those in recovery to begin forming the new personal relationships and social networks they will need to sustain their sobriety and build new lives.

Pierce, said that Navigating Recovery sprang from the efforts and generosity of a number of leaders in the community, who nearly a year ago chose to follow the example of Hope for New Hampshire in Manchester and Safe Harbor in Portsmouth by establishing a recovery center in Laconia to serve Belknap County. In particular, she mentioned Andrew Hosmer, then the state senator for the region; Henry Lipman of LRGHealthcare; Maggie Pritchard of Genesis Behavioral Health; and Jacqui Abikoff of Horizons Counseling Center; along with Eric Adams, the PET (Prevention, Enforcement, Treatment) officer of the Laconia Police Department, Tammy Emery of Stand Up Laconia, and Spagnuolo. At the same time, she said that the center reflects generosity of those whose contributions represent a quarter of its operating budget while a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services provides the balance.

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Daisy Pierce, right, executive director of Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region, is pictured with three of the 12 recovery coaches at the center; from left are Nate Walker, Paul Spagnuolo and Valene Colby. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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The space at Navigating Recovery is ready to help those with addictions. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)