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)
By 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.