Providing information for People & Families to Recover

AmeriCorps at Harbor Care Built Lifelong Connections

Guest Blog by Maggie Ringey
 Maggie Ringey 2nd degree connection I’m grateful to have served as the AmeriCorps Coordinator at Harbor Care for the length of the program — 2018 to 2020. During those two years, whenever people asked what I did for work, their next question would inevitably be: “What is AmeriCorps?”  

My prepared answer was to say that AmeriCorps is the domestic version of the Peace Corps. While that definition is technically correct, it doesn’t give a full understanding of AmeriCorps, the programs it enables, and the service of its members. By providing grant funding for special projects, AmeriCorps gives local organizations the ability to expand and support populations that they would not otherwise have been able to serve. Funding from AmeriCorps allows them to bring in additional people as well as to create programming to target specific problems that may have dogged a local community for years.  

When an organization approaches AmeriCorps for grant funding, they typically focus on one of several areas for their programming. Focus areas can include disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, or veterans and military families. Once an organization has chosen their focus area, they then identify issues specific to their region and demographics. For example, an organization may select “healthy futures” as its focus, then choose to address substance use disorder or perhaps childhood food insecurity within their own community.  

Alongside service to communities as a whole, AmeriCorps programs also empower the individuals who serve. AmeriCorps volunteers gain work experience and training while part of the program; AmeriCorps volunteers also receive educational awards that can help pay for ongoing education or pay off student loans.  

The Harbor Homes (now Harbor Care) Recovery Corps program began in December 2018 through an AmeriCorps grant aimed at aiding people in recovery from -- or struggling with -- substance use disorder.  Since that time, the Recovery Corps was able to recruit a total of 36 members who served between 6-month and 1-year terms at 16 host sites that serve people in recovery throughout the state of New Hampshire
AmeriCorps members in the Recovery Corps program represented a wide range of demographics and backgrounds. Some entered the program after many years of life and work experience, while others were just entering the workforce, but powerful friendships developed between them and the vital work they did in their communities.  
Read the entire blog post at Harbor Care
 
This short video is the first of a series created to explain the recovery paths offered at the state's recovery community organizations.
 
Among the phrases you hear when discussing methamphetamine use in New Hampshire, “meth never left” is probably most common. 
 
Like alcohol, methamphetamine treatment hasn’t historically been tied to Federal funding opportunities (which have largely targeted opioid overdose deaths in recent years) and -- possibly as a result -- fewer specific treatment options exist throughout the granite state. 
 
Although many providers will treat individuals regardless of their drug of choice(s), most don’t offer the complete array of evidence-based practices endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, some of which rely on incentivizing prosocial behaviors. 
 
In Nashua, the MERIT program (Motivating and Empowering Recovery through Integrated Treatment) offers treatment and recovery services for adults in Hillsborough County who struggle with methamphetamine use, but few options exist in other parts of the state.

(In addition to specialized treatment for methamphetamine use, MERIT provides wrap-around supports and connects clients to both primarily care and behavioral health services, medication-assisted treatment, peer recovery support services -- including recovery housing and recovery coaches -- family services, employment supports such as resume and interview preparation, and benefits and insurance navigation.)
 
Although it's vital to be client-centered and provide a range of services for individuals struggling with stimulants, unlike opioid-use disorder medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for this class of drug has lagged behind. 
 
New research indicates promising results in using injectable naltrexone and oral bupropion (also known by the brand name Suboxone) in treating methamphetamine-use disorder, but there’s significant resistance to prescribing safer medications to taper someone addicted to meth (such as Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, and Modafinil) across the state.   
 
“We understand chemical dependency. Now we just need more providers who are willing to meet the needs of a growing population of people who use stimulants,” said Ryan Fowler, New Hampshire Harm Reduction Coordinator for HIV / HCV Resource Center
 
Because of this gap in evidence-based and MAT treatment options, individuals struggling with stimulant-use disorder often don’t receive treatment endorsed by the Federal government, have repeated setbacks, or become involved with the criminal justice system in an endless cycle.

Or die as drug supplies become tainted with deadly fentanyl.


Download a flyer about the dangers of tainted drug supplies.

Ryan Fowler of HIV / HCV Resource Center adds, "If someone prefers to mix it up, they should go one at a time, drink water, set personal limits, take breaks, and carry naloxone. Any pill or powder can contain fentanyl. "
 
“We’re seeing patrol-level arrests where you get a couple grams of fentanyl, but you’re getting an ounce of methamphetamine,” said Sgt. Jared Yaris, a supervisor in the street crime unit of Manchester police’s special enforcement division, in a Feb. 20 Union Leader story. “That’s a pretty large quantity for a street-level bust.”
“We have state crime labs in places like New Hampshire that are now taking in more methamphetamine exhibits than fentanyl exhibits,” Jon DeLena, associate special agent in charge of the New England field division of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), told Lara Logan in a Fox interview.

In answer to this uptick, the DEA has unveiled Operation Engage, which will enable local field divisions to focus on the drugs most threatening to their regions (in Manchester decoupling money that previously had been earmarked to address the opioid epidemic exclusively).

According to a factsheet on the DEA’s website about the shift, the new paradigm will focus on drug trafficking, violence, and crime reduction and partner with local stakeholders on prevention efforts and messaging campaigns.
Acting DEA Administrator D. Christopher Evans announces the agency's new law enforcement and prevention support initiative: Operation Engage.
Meanwhile, the number of fatal overdoses involving meth has skyrocketed: 

Although dwarfed in raw numbers by the opioid overdose epidemic in the state, the rise in fatal overdoses involving methamphetamine has been astronomical. In 2012, New Hampshire had a single overdose death involving the drug. Today it has 52 (with some cases pending). 
 
To put this in context with other states: The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported that US age-adjusted rates of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine increased nearly 5-fold between 2012 and 2018 (a staggering figure in itself); New Hampshire has increased 5,100 percent from 2012 to today. 
 
“Most fatal overdoses involve more than one drug at one time. Some call this “polysubstance use, or a speedball,” Fowler said, adding that some people are also unaware that there are multiple drugs in their supply, and it’s important to carry the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone (Narcan), even if a user believes he or she is taking a stimulant, no matter what form the drug is in. 
 
“Any pill or powder can contain fentanyl,” he said. 
 
Hope LogoRecovery Community Organizations have developed programs and services to help this vulnerable and underserved population.

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery recently developed the state's first 12-step group designed specifically for people struggling with methamphetamine-use disorder
 
 

Fentanyl Kills Hundreds in NH, ME in 2020

Fentanyl  continues to lead to hundreds of overdose deaths in New Hampshire, according to the annual report issued by the state's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and neighboring states have also seen a steep increase.

Including 31 cases that are still pending toxicology, New Hampshire had 409 overdose fatalities in 2020, according to the state report. This figure represents a decline of 1.46 percent over 2019, but during this same time period the neighboring state of Maine has set a new tragic record with 502 overdose deaths

“The recovery community lost a lot of people last year. We see this is a signal from the Mills administration that we’re going to double down in 2021 and we’re not going to lose that many people again,” Courtney Allen, policy director for the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project, said in a Portland Press Herald story. “It’s important to the recovery community to see the Mills administration is taking the overdose deaths as seriously as the COVID-19 deaths.”

New Hampshire has seen a 13 percent reduction in fatal overdoses since 2019, when Governor Chris Sununu developed the Doorway hub-and-spoke system with Federal funding of $45.8 million over its first two-year period and  $56,264,368 for the next two-year period.

This system was designed to expedite assessments, referrals to services, and client navigation and provides clinicians, caseworkers and Certified Recovery Support Workers to people on a walk-in basis.

Although this new system may have helped people navigate the provider network, it has provided few new substance-use-disorder programs and services independent of the Doorway vendors themselves.

John Burns, the director of SOS, said in a story in Foster's Daily Democrat
that despite the attention focused on substance abuse during the past five years, it’s still difficult for someone who’s addicted to illicit drugs to get a medical detox bed or get into treatment.

“If you’ve got a substance use disorder and you’re trying to avoid being sick, there’s not a lot of options out there,” he said. “They turn to what they can find and what’s available is fentanyl.”

Read the Fosters Daily Democrat Story
Read the NH Medical Examiner's report
 

NH's $3M Opioid settlement

New Hampshire is receiving more than $3.3 million as part of a settlement with a consulting company that advised opioid makers on how to boost their sales.


The $573 million settlement involves 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.

The states accused McKinsey & Co. of encouraging Purdue Pharma and other companies to focus on selling higher doses to doctors who prescribed high volumes of opioids.

Visit WMUR for the Full Story
 

Recovering Together Cafés to Launch in Tilton

Recovering TogetherFor those struggling with addiction—and for the families and communities who love them—personal change in the recovery process is enhanced by social support. We recover together through conversations that meet people where they are and recognize our fundamental connectedness and the importance of peer support in sustaining positive personal transformation.

That's the basis of the Recovering Together Cafés. Co-created by the Greater Tilton Family Resource Center and NET (NorthEast Treatment Center) in Philadelphia—and with input from more than 60 individuals who have both lived and professional experience in the addiction recovery field—these workshops combine these agencies’ expertise with Be Strong Families’ foundational approach to transformative conversations with Parent Cafés.

Greater Tilton Family Resource Center will release details about the cost of the training so follow the organization’s Facebook account or look for information in the next Recovery Fix newsletter.
 
 
SOS Recovery Community Organization’s Rochester location has relocated from First Church Congregational into 14 Signal Street in Rochester.

The Recovery Community Organization (RCO) began at First Church Congregational in Sept. 2016 and although it has had tense moments with the city’s zoning board, expressed gratitude to the church in its January e-newsletter, saying:   

“We want to express our gratitude to the First Church Congregational as well as all those who advocated and stood by us during the last four plus years of tremendous community support.  It is with a heavy heart that we moved from the church, but this new chapter will bring more services, more programming and more flexibility in how we support the community.”

The RCO grew from the church’s generosity and a $5,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation into one of the state's most robust recovery organization with more than 11,000 visits per year during its peak. In addition to serving vulnerable populations, the organization has also received community awards (receiving the 2019 Harvard Pilgrim Community Impact Award) and has organized fundraisers and a groundbreaking regional conference, the 2020 Innovations in Recovery Conference.   

The RCO’s new facility has more than 3,000 square-feet of room and will allow SOS to offer new services.

The organization's tentative move-in date is March 1st, and it will notify area partners when it receives the certificate of occupancy, but continues to answer calls at 603-841-2350 x1 during normal business hours (as well as having an online chat feature on its site), will continue to host nine or more digital meetings seven days a week, and provides 1:1 recovery supports to those in need.
 
 

NH Chef's Panel on Helping Employees Battling Addiction

NH Chef PanelWe’ve learned over the years how the opioid epidemic affects all demographics and regions of this country. But there’s one industry in particular that’s dealing with more and more employees suffering from addiction: the restaurant business.

One community is trying to tackle the problem to better help those working in the service industry.

“This is a very cutthroat industry, to keep a business running and to keep a restaurant running, you have to be at the top of your game all the time,” said Kyle Semrau, the head chef at Riverworks Tavern in Newmarket, N.H.

Semrau, who has been sober for five years and has worked in the restaurant industry for nearly two decades, says it’s time to bring awareness to drug addiction happening behind the scenes.

“In 19 years, out of all the places I’ve worked, I’ve seen it all in every place I’ve worked,” he said. “People smoking crack cocaine right on the line or blowing cocaine in the bathroom.”

Read the Entire story on Boston 25 News
 

Compass House

Unique Partnership Providing A Home to the Stigmatized.
Pictured: Daisy Pierce, director of Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region, Jaqui Abikoff, executive director of Horizons Counseling Center, and Carmen Lorentz, director of Lakes Region Community Developers.

The three organizations have partnered to a significant degree in Compass House,  which Katja Fox, Director of the Division of Behavioral Health at the NH Department of Health and Human Services, calls a "unique" blend of peer recovery coaches, outpatient counselors and an affordable housing developer. 
 
The time-worn Victorian home on Union Avenue housed a law office, then Lakes Region Community Developers, before it was reborn in February 2020 as Compass House – a transitional haven for women recovering from addiction, several of whom came from rehabilitation programs in jail.

Now, less than a year later, the supportive housing program has graduated its first two residents to independent living – and its role may be more pressing than ever.

As homelessness and substance misuse continue to climb statewide, aggravated by the hardships of COVID-19, Compass House offers a beacon of hope on a mostly barren landscape for people who need recovery and mental health services and a safe and stable place to live. 
 
Read the full story on the Laconia Daily Sun
 
Un-sheltered In New Hampshire Driven by Behavioral Health Needs; Few Resources
NHPR reported on the forced evacuation of un-sheltered people from an encampment outside Hillsborough County courthouse in Manchester on Nov. 20, 2020. Read the full story on the NHPR website.

Freeman Toth has the weighty job of finding people before it is too late.  

As one of two homeless outreach and housing stability coordinators for the Community Action Program of Belknap-Merrimack Counties, Toth combs the woods, encampments, parks and gazebos, shelters, soup kitchens and cars. He looks for people who have no consistent place to sleep or to escape life-threatening weather. Late last year he discovered a young man passed out on railroad tracks in freezing temperatures.

“Had there not been an outreach worker in the field he would have died,” Toth said.

At a time when communities statewide are grappling with ways to tackle the increasing problem of people living outdoors, the reasons behind homelessness remain complex and difficult to untangle – a web of misfortune that is often tied to losing housing, and being unable to replace it.

For some, homelessness results from a cascade of tragic events. Others run out of luck. Many lose jobs, health insurance, mental health care or stop taking their medications, then soothe themselves with drugs or alcohol, which unravels employment, family life and hope. Serving their addictions becomes paramount. Mental illness and substance misuse, and the poor choices that can result, play a decisive part.

Read the Full Story at the Laconia Daily Sun
 
 
 

Keep Connected


In addition to the NH Recovery Fix, many recovery community organizations release regular newsletters about ongoing meetings and support groups and upcoming training opportunities.

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The voice of recovery

Harbor Care is collecting stories of recovery throughout the granite state. Check out our YouTube account for more videos.

Older Publications

NH DHHS Resource During Covid

You are not alone. Everyone is feeling some level of anxiety and discomfort right now. It is normal to feel this way. If you or a loved one have struggled with anxiety or other mental health concerns, this may be an even more difficult time for you. Here are some tips and resources to help.

This flyer contains hints for coping with stress during an epidemic, resource links and much more. Visit the DHHS Covid-19 information page or download the PDF now.

Family Support Services Brochure

Granite Pathway's Parent Support Program has produced new products that will be distributed throughout New Hampshire communities. A brochure, describes some of the benefits of family support programs, including helping parents and adult siblings develop relapse prevention plans.

To request a hard copy of these products, reach out to Lynn Fuller at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Download the brochure today.

Overdose Follow-up Kit

Although fatal overdoses declined this year for the first time since 2012, far too many lives are still lost. This short guide describes self-care for survivors of overdoses, tells you where to find help, and discusses safe practices designed to keep you and your loved ones stay alive.

Download the kit.

Family Resource Recovery Kit

Families suffer from addiction and recover together. Donna Marston has created a family recovery kit designed to help parents, grandparents, caretakers, and mentors begin to have difficult conversations about overdose and the grieving process. The guide also describes family dynamics around addiction and the importance of using person-first language.

Download the kit.

Tainted Stimulants in NH

Stimulants that are contaminated with fentanyl can be a deadly combination, particularly if the user has not developed tolerance for the opioid. Our FO team has created a flyer designed to help those still struggling with addiction identify risky substances. 

Download the flyer.

 

Better Know a System

General information on the New Hampshire Doorway Initiative

2-1-1

The well-known 2-1-1 system can direct you or your loved one to substance use disorder resources or connect you directly to Doorway NH staff, who can schedule assessments and referrals to services. Dial 2-1-1 today to start your journey.

The Doorway Website

The Doorway NH will direct you to the help you need, from screening and evaluation, to treatment including medication-assisted treatment, to long-term recovery supports. Doorway hours vary by location. Learn more

Caring Clergy

Caring Clergy After Overdose is an initiative designed to train inter-faith leaders to lead a funereal for one who has died in an overdose. Learn more