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Working with Memorial Hospital, Recovery Coaches Provide Support and Resources for Those Seeking Addiction Counseling



NORTH CONWAY, NH -- It’s an all too frequent occurrence. A patient enters the Emergency Department at Memorial Hospital. It could be a drug overdose. It could be any number of other accidents or ailments exacerbated by substance misuse. In its high-pressure fast paced environment, it’s not always the best place to provide someone with the information and resources they need to make a step towards recovery. But now, thanks to an innovative partnership between Memorial Hospital, MWV Supports Recovery and White Horse Addiction, those in need can meet with a recovery coach in the Emergency Department to get started down the road to a life free from dependence on drugs or alcohol.


Memorial Hospital ED Clinical Manager Erika Roy, RN explained that through this unique arrangement with two local recovery-focused organizations, the hospital is now able to offer anyone who feels they need drug or alcohol treatment the option to meet with a peer recovery coach. Recovery coaches are able to talk one-on-one with the patient right in the exam room and provide addiction counseling, plus resources available to them for recovery, from treatment centers to sober living to support groups.


A team of five to six recovery coaches are now on call at Memorial 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is a primary and secondary recovery coach on call in case two are needed at the same time. A coach responds within an hour of being called, and is someone with whom the patient can form a personal relationship.


These recovery coaches are specially trained and have gone through many of the same screenings and trainings that hospital employees receive. This includes undergoing background checks, having up-to-date immunizations, being trained in infection prevention precautions, and being issued hospital ID badges. Some of the coaches are in recovery themselves, and others are licensed social workers.


The coaches will help the patient get connected to resources, taking the burden off of the Emergency Department staff so they can concentrate on other aspects of their job. Memorial’s Emergency Department treats about 18,000 patients a year. 


Roy shared, “I’m excited we started this program. No matter why someone comes into the Emergency Department, no matter what their primary complaint, we can now offer services. They may not accept the offer the first time. But it doesn’t matter how often. It’s proven that the more often recovery services are offered, the more likely they’ll eventually accept it. The very first day we started the program, we successfully offered access to a recovery coach to a patient and they accepted.”  They expect volume for the program to grow over time as the community becomes more aware of its services.


The recovery coaches are funded through a NH state Integrated Delivery Network (IDN)  grant and their services are free to the patient. Roy says it’s a pilot program and they are collecting data to show the program can be successful. Eventually, she explained, the program could be expanded to their inpatient medical/surgical patients.  


Roy continued, “When we are discharging patients from the Emergency Department, we don’t always know all the resources available. These coaches can take the time to talk to the patient about their best options. It’s taking the time, an extra level of care that our nurses can’t always provide. They have the time to give explanations. They meet with patients in the exam room privately. The patient can ask questions.”


Rose Normandin, Director of Programs for MWV Supports Recovery, explained that they saw the need to develop this program as opiate overdoses were increasing, as were discharges from the hospital where patients might be released without further information about recovery resources. 


She described an incident where she personally had gone into the Emergency Department with a client who overdosed. “There was nothing given to them to reach out the next day as far as resources for detox centers.” After learning about a program in Connecticut that brought recovery coaches into the Emergency Department, Normandin traveled to that state and underwent further training to learn more. 


At that point, she and Janice Spinney, Executive Director of MWV Supports Recovery, decided to join forces with White Horse Addiction and bring the program to Memorial Hospital.  “We wanted to bring our organizations together and have this resource for people coming to Memorial for an overdose.”


She explained the process further. “The patient is asked alone, away from loved ones or family, if they want the recovery coach called.  They have to be open minded enough to have us come in and have a conversation. Even if they say no, they still can be handed a brochure with resources and then it’s up to them. More importantly, we want them to consent to see us and be by their bedside, and have a conversation without pressure or stress and open their minds to a path to recovery. Statistics say there is a 24 hour window after an overdose to the time the person realizes they need detox or treatment. The window is very small. It’s a fragile state.”


Normandin is pleased with the collaboration with Memorial. “We finally have a lane to be in at Memorial Hospital. We want to be there for the opiate epidemic and to treat addiction. We want to gain respect of the hospital and staff, and we want to receive it and also be respectful of them. It can really be something wonderful to help the community with addiction.”


Eric Moran, Manager of the Peer Recovery Center at White Horse Addiction Center, emphasized the importance of knowing all of the resources available in the community. “The idea is that if somebody comes in under duress, due to an overdue or heavy misuse, the coach is there to reach them with resources and options they may not otherwise receive.  Being in recovery myself, I know we give them hope. We haven’t had a lot of use yet, but this is a pilot and we hope that as it continues we will work with every doctor’s officer in our region.”


“At the very least, we have treatment options, sober living options and our RCO options. This includes Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Smart Recovery and family information, because we know the entire family is frustrated.” Moran noted the increase in recovery resources in the area, recalling that “when I got sober, there were only two AA meetings in Ossipee. There’s a lot more now.”


Moran praised the teamwork it’s taken to get this program off the ground. “It’s been very positive with Memorial. I’m blown away by how well I’ve been treated while working with them. The hospital has given me a lot of hope for what we are trying to do, that we will be successful and be able to expand this in the future.  We need to be sure our area doesn’t fall between the cracks. How do we reach the unreachable? My ultimate goal is that everyone understands we have these resources available.”


Where to Find Help (subhead) 


MWV Supports Recovery

https://www.mwvsupportsrecovery.org/

1620 E Main St 

Center Conway NH 03813                       

 603-662-0668                             

mwvaddictionresource@gmail.com


White Horse Addiction Center

https://whitehorseaddictions.com/

2977 White Mountain Hwy.

North Conway, NH 03860

(603) 651-1441


Memorial Hospital - Emergency Department

www.memorialhospitalnh.org

3073 White Mountain Hwy.

North Conway, NH 03860

603-356-5461


Rose Normandin (left) and Janice Spinney (right) of MWV Supports Recovery

Photo credit: Rachel Andrews Damon


Kayla Coyle: There are other options beyond the Twelve Steps

  • Oct 29, 2019 Updated Oct 30, 2019

To the editor:

Regarding the recent letter by Narcotics Anonymous, here is a reminder to them It's called tradition. Not discussing names or "naming groups" and press and radio is part of that tradition. You broke the tradition!

If you want to help the addict who still suffers, start with losing the dogma and outdated mindsets! Many courts deem Twelve Steps as religious — stop using demeaning, stigmatizing language and labels like "addict" and "alcoholic." It's beyond unhealthy and is unnecessary to have a label to define yourself from your past struggle. Labels are for jam jars!

Multiple pathways exist here in the valley. It's time they are embraced, They are free of the dogma and outdated mindsets. One is Smart Recovery. It's Thursdays at 6 p.m. at MWV Supports Recovery in Center Conway. They emphasize empowerment versus powerlessness and give tools with use of cognitive behavior therapy.

The Twelve Steps are rigid and have cult traits — read "A Sober Truth" by Harvard doctor Lance Dodes.

Don't even feel there are no options beyond NA/AA. It's 2019, not 1939!

Kayla Coyle

Conway

CCPRSS  (Carroll County Peer Recovery Support Services)

With the support of Carroll County Peer Recovery Support Services (CCPRSS), MWV Supports Recovery and The Shed and The Shed North have teamed up to create an Emergency Response Team. Trained peer recovery coaches will be available to assist with needed resources and support in emergency room visits at Memorial Hospital of individuals and families experiencing substance use disorders. This is a recognized critical time of need within the recovery community where all paths of recovery can be promoted and early intervention is necessary.

New program announced at 'Take a Walk in Our Shoes'
Daymond Steer


  • Sep 16, 2019 

At the rally, which took place after the morning walk, founder Janice Spinney announced a new program is underway to provide recovery coaches at Memorial Hospital.

Spinney helped found MWV Supports Recovery, which runs a community resource center and a transitional sober living house for women, both located at 1620 East Main St. in Center Conway.

She also spearheaded “Take a Walk,” which this year saw the participants walk 2.2 miles along White Mountain Highway from the parking lot of Visiting Nurse Home Care & Hospice Route 16 to a rally in Schouler Park in North Conway Village.

At the rally, Spinney said: “Five years ago, a group of crazy mothers began meeting to start a movement. We were frustrated with the state of treatment services and the attitudes who have not taken a walk in our shoes.”

She said they refused to “stay silent” while people were losing love ones to the disease of addiction. Since then, changes that have taken place over the years, including the widespread availability of Narcan, a drug to reverse opioid overdose; Memorial Hospital’s prenatal center for women with substance abuse disorder; and the founding of two recovery organizations in Carroll County: MWV Supports Recovery and White Horse.

“Today, we announce the first shift of County Peer Recovery Support Services,” Spinney told the crowd in Schouler Park.

“It’s a collaboration between White Horse and MWV Supports Recovery to assist those who have been brought into the emergency room suffering from a substance abuse related incident,” she continued.

“So when your family or your loved one goes to Memorial Hospital, from now on, starting today, there will be a recovery coach from one of our organizations there to meet and advocate for you,” Spinney said, to cheers from the crowd.

Recovery coach Joey Rodriguez, 45, of Center Conway was among those cooking up cheeseburgers at the rally. He said the coaches will help the patient get connected to resources to help them.

He said it will help take the burden off of the emergency room staff so they can concentrate on their job. The coaches, he said, are people with whom the emergency room patient can form a personal relationship.

“It’s a beautiful feeling,” said Rodriguez, explaining what it’s like to be a recovery coach. “I’ve been doing this for going on three years now. I’m helping friends here in the valley that I used to party with.”

Rodriguez, who moved from Massachusetts to the valley in 1996, said the main message he likes to share is there’s more than one way to be in recovery.

In 2003, he started a five-year federal prison sentence. That, he said, gave him a chance to re-examine his life. Since then, he went on to become a motorcycle mechanic.

“There is a new life if you want it,” said Rodriguez. “Recovery is possible.”

White Horse’s Chief Operating Officer Laura Uggerholt of Conway did the walk with her husband, Karl who works at White Horse as its chief financial officer.

Laura Uggerholt said that as of Sunday, the recovery coaches are on call at Memorial 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She added there will be a primary and secondary recovery coach on call in case two are needed at the same time.

She said a coach is supposed to respond within an hour of being called.

At the time of the rally, White Horse’s recovery coach Eric Moran was on call.

“It’s very exciting,” Laura Uggerholt said of the new program, which she said should make a difference because it’s critical to react to people when they reach out for help.

Other speakers at the rally were representatives from U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen who read statements in support of Spinney’s efforts.

The event was dedicated to first responders. Spinney honored them with a few remarks.

“We wanted to recognize the first responders for being on the front lines of helping overdose victims and their families right at the site,” said Spinney.

Music was provided by the band Shark Martin.

From left: Chris Spinney, Joey Rodriguez and Ed Doe man the grills at the rally Sunday in Schouler Park following “Take a Walk in Our Shoes.” (DAYMOND STEER PHOTO)

New Hampshire's Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative gives business owners the resources and support they need to foster a supportive environment that encourages the success of their employees in recovery. Congratulations to MWVSR for receiving a Recovery Friendly Workplace (RFW) designation certificate from the Office of Governor Sununu
L to R: Janice Spinney, President; Jason Garrett, Recovery Coach; Rosemary Normandin, CRSW, Director of Programs

Fourth Annual Take a Walk in our Shoes

CONWAY — A drug addiction awareness walk and rally held Sunday in Conway and Fryeburg, Maine, was a success, according to its organizer.

Mt. Washington Valley Supports Recovery organizes the annual "Take a Walk in Our Shoes" event, which this year marked its fourth anniversary.

Both the Conway and Fryeburg walks began around 10:30 a.m.

The Conway walk started at Visiting Nurses Home Care & Hospice at 1529 White Mountain Highway and ended at Schouler Park, for a distance of 2.2 miles. The Fryeburg walk ran from Swans Falls Road to the Visitor Center on Route 302, a distance of 1.8 miles.

A rally at Schouler Park was held at noon. The rally included a barbecue lunch, information booths, and a Narcan kit demonstration and distribution. Narcan is a drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

MWVSR President Janice Spinney said 335 people attended the event. She also said there were 79 walkers in Conway and 29 in Fryeburg.

"I'm very pleased with how it went," said Spinney on Monday, adding there were 12 addiction resource providers attending the event and that more than 20 Narcan kits were distributed.

"We had some families there that were finding recovery this year so that really made me smile," she noted.

She also pleased with the weather Sunday, which was warm with no rain.

"You can say the recovery gods were shining down on us," said Spinney adding it was a bit hot for the walkers.

She said during the walk, she and Joey Rodriguez, a MWV Recovery coach who lives in Conway, had the walkers chanting "All Paths to Recovery" and " Who are we? We are Recovery Allies." She said people from the stores and restaurants in North Conway Village cheered them on.

Spinney said Rep. Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) and Rep. Karen Umberger (R-Conway) both attended and expressed their support.

Ryan Fowler of Granite Pathways — a Concord group that began as a grass-roots initiative that introduced the “clubhouse” model for addiction recovery in New Hampshire — was the guest speaker. Spinney said Fowler did an "excellent  job."

"His specific message was harm reduction," said Spinney. "Meaning if we don't support people who get on medication-assisted treatment or decide to use clean needles, we are really not supporting recovery."

During the rally, Spinney said the names of four community members who died of an overdose over the past year.

"I made a pretty strong statement that I hope I don't need to mention any names at the event next year," said Spinney, adding all four were under the age of 40.

She identified them by their first names: Bryce, Roxanne, Tracey and Zach.

The walk is a fundraiser for MWV Supports Recovery, which operates a community resource center and a sober living house for women who have completed residential treatment programs. Both facilities are located at 1620 East Main St. in Center Conway.

Spinney said the event raised a bit over $4,000, which is enough to receive matching funds of $5,000 for a U.S. Rural Development grant. She said Monday that she is still in the process of determining how much exactly was netted by pledges and donations for the walk.

The grant will allow MWV Supports Recovery to purchase things like a road sign and maintenance equipment like a snowblower, lawn mower and a ladder.

One disappointment, she said was that petitions for town warrant articles to ask area towns to help fund MWV Supports Recovery were forgotten and not brought out in order to collect signatures. Spinney said that was "a bummer."

"Now we have to run around to each town, but that's OK," she said.

Third Annual Take a Walk in Our Shoes Recovery Event

MWV Supports Recovery Coalition will hold its third annual Take a Walk in Our Shoes on Sunday, Sept. 17, to bring people together as a community to support and grow the recovery movement in Carroll County.

Teams are forming and pledges are being collected for the event, which now includes two options for walks and a 2.5-hour county-wide motorcycle rideall planned for Sunday, Sept. 17 starting at 10 a.m. and wrapping up at 3 p.m. (the rain date is Sunday Sept. 24). This year’s theme is Recovery Strong!


All walkers and riders receive a free lunch ticket; tickets available for non-participation with a small donation. You don’t have to walk, ride or collect pledges to join the rally.


People can participate in one of two walks between 10 a.m. and noon. One starts at Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice, 1529 White Mountain Highway to Schouler Park; the other starts at Fryeburg Fairgrounds at Swan Fall Road to Stateline Visitor Center.


This year, MWV Supports Recovery added a 2.5-hour county-wide motorcycle ride starting at Scenic Overlook in Intervale going to Abbott and Staples in Ossipee then to Wolfeboro, turning around in the Wolfeboro Chamber parking lot, riding by for a a toot salute White Horse in Center Ossipee then back to North conway on Route 16 to join the rally at Schouler Park.


MWV Supports Recovery invited all county town selectman boards and offices, commissioners, police departments, fire and rescue and the growing organizations supporting the recovery moment, and hopes to have 500 people participate.


In addition to the family style barbecue starting at noon, there will be music, activities for kids, raffle items, inspirational and guest speakers. A presentation to a special family, community member or service provider will also be made.


MWV Supports Recovery is a non-profit grassroots family organization created in 2015. With the supportive help of fiduciary agent Vaughan Community Services, the group has begun the work to enhance recovery options in Carroll County, Western Maine and the Mount Washington Valley.


Since 2015, it has initiated several programs to educate, train and support the recovery movement. At its Center Conway location on 1620 East Main St., MWV Supports Recovery runs a full resource center with recovery coaches — peer support programming like Narcotics Anonymous, along with yoga, family support FASTER and drop in. Endeavor House recovery living for woman will be opening this fall and will house up to eight women in transitional housing.


MWV Supports Recovery is accepting sponsorships for the walk and volunteers to help coordinate the day. If your organization or practice would like to have a resource table at our event please contact us ASAP. There is no charge for participation but space under the tent is limited.

Pledge sheets for individuals and teams are available on the MWV Supports Recovery website at mwvsupportsrecovery.com, or stop in at 1620 East Main St., Center Conway or call the offices at at (603) 662-0668 for more information.


All funds raised will be used to support Endeavor House upgrades and MWV Supports Recovery resource center staff development and operations.

Memorial Hospital Sponsors MWV Supports Recovery

Memorial Hospital’s Vice President of Community Relations Kathy Bennett presented MWV Supports Recovery’s Janice Spinney a sponsorship for their Sept. 17th 3rd Annual Take a Walk in Our Shoes event to support their sober living facility in Center Conway. Memorial Hospital’s New Life prenatal substance abuse program staff will be participating in the event on the 17th to raise awareness of the hospital’s services related to recovery, and to show support for MWVSR’s efforts.

Women on the Streets, MWVSR asks the question: Are you open to recovery?

MWV Supports Recovery now offering services

Mount Washington Valley Supports Recovery has announced it is offering addiction recovery coaching out of its new facility on East Main Street in Center Conway. Meanwhile the group is fundraising to help pay for improvements to the building.

MWV Supports Recovery was founded by Intervale resident Janice Spinney in 2015 to help people overcome substance abuse disorders. It also has organized an annual event, "Take A Walk in Our Shoes," held in various Carroll County towns as well as Fryeburg, Maine, over the past two years.

In September, MWVSR closed on the property at 1620 East Main St., next to the Center Conway United Methodist Church.


The building was formerly owned by The Echo Group, now based in Conway Village, a maker of computer software for behavioral health organizations like drug and alcohol agencies.

The building will house recovery coaching, peer to peer support and in the future a residential recovery home for women, which could possibly open this spring.


The building is now open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. to allow people to meet with coaches who have been trained to engage with people who are seeking recovery or are in the early stages, according to Spinney, the group's board chair, and fellow board member Rose Normandin of Fryeburg, who is also the head recovery coach and board treasurer.


"If you are a person with substance abuse disorder, you can walk in any of those days or call our number an interact with a recovery coach," Spinney said.


MWVSR has six recovery coaches and hopes to have more trained in the spring.

"Six people won't be enough for the community once we get up and running," said Normandin, adding that the coaches will be needed to give the clients attention and to cover the hours.

Recovery coaches not only counsel clients but help them find the resources to help them fight their addiction. Active users' first step would be a three- to five-day stint in medical detox, Spinney and Normandin said. They said people are sent to places like Hampstead Hospital or Concord and Portsmouth area hospitals.


On Thursday nights, the center is hosting a program called Families Advocating Substance Treatment, Education & Recovery where families can get together to share stories and gain information.

Another peer support program will be Drop In meetings for people in recovery and their families. 

Right now, MWVSR is helping about 10 or 12 people per week through its various programs.

Spinney and Normandin said they expect the numbers to grow quickly once word gets out that they are open.


Normandin hopes those in recovery will spread the word to those who are actively using.

Spinney said they also hope to get the word out through places like Memorial Hospital, Saco River Medical Group and Carroll County Coalition for Public Health.


Later this year, MWVSR is planning to open a six- to eight-bed recovery house for women called Endeavor House.


For months, this part of the project was called a "sober living house," but Spinney and Normandin said they prefer the new nomenclature for the residential portion of the facility.

Mothers will be allowed to stay there but not their children. The name "Endeavor House" was chosen by Spinney and approved by the MWVSR's board.

In The News

Mount Washington Valley Supports Recovery Coalition, a local organization dedicated to helping drug addicts, has announced plans to open a sober living home on East Main Street in Center Conway ahead of its second annual awareness walk.

"Talk a Walk in Our Shoes" begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 18 at the Conway Area Overlook in Intervale to Schouler Park. The Fryeburg Area walk starts at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds and goes to the Stateline Visitor Center. A fundraising cookout in North Conway's Schouler Park will follow.

MWVRC recently closed on the old Echo Building, at 1620 East Main St., next to the Center Conway United Methodist Church.

It will be used for office space as well as a residence for addicts trying to stay clean after detox. The coalition mortgaged the building for $200,000 from the Echo Group. The coalition hopes to own the building outright in three years.

"We can finally get down to helping people," said the coalition's founder, Janice Spinney of Intervale. "This is about giving people the opportunity to find recovery here in the community."

The building was formerly owned by The Echo Group, now based in Conway Village. The Echo Group makes computer software for behavioral health organizations like drug and alcohol agencies.

Echo Group Chairman George Epstein said the closing date was Sept. 2.

He believes the building will be an ideal place for the coalition, which will need rooms for residential living, as well as administration and counseling.

 "It's designed for all those things," said Epstein, adding that Echo Group has owned the building for roughly 30 years.

The building will be able to house four to eight people.

Originally, it was planned to be co-ed, but may end up serving only one gender, said Spinney.

There are four bedrooms, and two people would share one room, though that's subject to change depending on intake flow and room availability. The other side of the building would be used for meeting rooms as well as being rented out to service providers. The coalition hopes to open in December or next January.

"It depends how quick we can get the funds to renovate and how quick we can get the general contractors to do the work," said Spinney.

The coalition is applying for grants in addition to holding fundraisers, she said.

As for activities at the park on Sept. 18, in addition to the cookout, there will also be henna tattoos and face painting, a homemade cookie table, a dog treat table, raffles and a resource table with a number of health-care providers. The cookout will be free for the those taking part in the walk, but others will have to pay.

There will also be an activity in which people can decorate shoes for a display near the event tent. The coalition has shoes, glitter, stickers and paint that people can use.

"We ask people to put whatever they want on the shoes, whether it be a picture of a child, a syringe or an AA symbol — anything that symbolizes their recovery on the shoe," said Spinney.

There are big shoes, baby shoes and boots. Materials were donated. For more information, visit the Facebook page for "Take A Walk In Our Shoes Sun Sept 18th."

To sign up for the walk, go to www.mwvsupportsrecovery.org.

Once the sober house is up and running, residents will be required to pay rent and have a job. They will be able to stay for between three and six months. A staff house manager will live on the premises.

"Usually, they are not paid because they run the house, but you can pay them and allow them to have their own job as long as they are maintaining what they need to for the residents," said Spinney about the house manager.

Residents will be screened in the intake process. They must be totally drug-free. Applicants would come to the house after a 14-to-28-day detox program

The former Echo building was originally two homes dating back to the turn of the 20th century. The east wing served as the post office for a time. The Echo Group acquired that portion in 1987 and the home that would become Echo's west wing around 1990, said Epstein.

Echo joined the two buildings together. For a time, it rented it out as a business incubator and also used it as temporary lodging for new employees or customers who came to Conway to visit Echo.

"Otherwise, it has been very empty for five or six years," said Epstein.

Pinkham Real Estate's Greydon Turner said there have been a number of showings at the property over the past few years and that most of the potential buyers wanted to turn the building into apartments. He said it totals around 7,400 square feet.

"We figure it's a very good place for the coalition," said Turner. "There's plenty of space for them to grow as their program takes off."

Several members of the coalition said they became involved in the project because addiction has touched their family.

Chris Spinney, 31, of Conway said he is a former heroin addict who is now two years sober. He moved to Conway at 6 years old and later developed an addiction problem at age 18. By his late 20s, he had a heroin habit.

But he was able to get treatment and is now the author of an e-book series, "Heroin Recovery is Possible."

He said he believes the sober living home will be helpful to Conway because there are more addicts now than in 2014 when he stopped using.

"Recovery is possible, and I'm proof of that," said Chris Spinney. "Just because you are an addict today does not mean you can't in the future become a productive member of society."

The language of ‘addiction’
by Janice Spinney, Founder, MWV Supports Recovery

The language of ‘addiction’ That kid — he is a drug addict, a dirty junkie and a rotten thief. 

Wow, you know what else? That kid is someone’s son, brother or lover. He was a wide receiver on the state college football team. He scored a 1500 on his SAT. That kid, he left four fingers in Afghanistan. That kid is a hard-working construction laborer. That kid went to jail for dealing drugs. He goes to Narcotics Anonymous. He was a recovering drug addict. That kid fell off the wagon. He always tested dirty. You know that kid — he died of an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. 

Let’s re-write this paragraph a bit: That young man was a “person with a substance use disorder” He was a member of this community. He served our country. He had unfathomable potential. He was a person seeking recovery. He tested substance free in his last screen. He made restitution for his actions. He was my friend in a 12-step fellowship. This young man died after a long battle with substance use disorder. 

The language and messaging of addiction (SUD — substance use disorder) is vile and demeaning. Undertaking the change in language is a monumental task. 

We are bombarded with media messaging that sensationalizes the negative. Locally, our media has made real positive contributions in recognizing that people are seeking recovery. They have given air and print space to efforts support recovery, but we still have a long way to go. The front page and the leading stories in print and on radio are still arrest and court scenes of someone with SUD and in our community, and in most cases, OUD (opiate use disorder). 

If all we see or hear about a person with SUD is the crime they commit or the horrific abuses they afflict on themselves or their loved ones, then we lose sight of that young man. We dehumanize him. By making a simple change, we see the kid as a person fi rst by allowing him (or her) to be a human part of society, not a shadow on its fringe, not a criminal and not a person of weakness or moral failing. 

A person with SUD is no different than a person battling cancer, MS, heart disease, a metabolic disturbance, or a person with a mental health disorder. Some argue that addiction is not a disease. This debate will play on in medicine, psychiatry, psychology and in the mainstream, but remember: No one ever woke up one morning and proclaimed, “I want to be an IV drug user, I want to steal from my family and live in a tent in February.” There may be a genetic pre-disposition to addiction; there may be an unresolved trauma that occurred and they are killing emotional pain. Maybe one did not learn proper coping skills, or has a co-occurring mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Or maybe, just maybe, it began innocently with a prescribed opiate. Regardless of how one arrived at the point, they are so dependent on a substance that the drive to use overrides one’s moral, parental and basic self-care. 

Last month, a colleague and I traveled to the Seacoast to visit programs of recovery. The professionals we spoke with used a very different language than we were use to. They were eloquent in their speech and thoughtful in the words they chose in conversation. They are miles ahead of the smaller communities in combating the stigma and negative language around substance use disorder. 

SUD is a disease — the person is not the disease. Addict, alcoholic, junkie, druggie, tweeker — all of these terms identify the person in a negative light in the eyes of society. With the exception of 12-step work, the act of proclaiming one is a drug addict or alcoholic (step one) initiates an understanding that one admits they have this disorder, removing denial so the work can begin. 

This March a Partnership for a Drug Free N.H. rolled out Speak Up N.H. The message is to stamp out shame and stigma, to talk openly and honestly about substance use disorder in our community and to cheer on those seeking recovery. The message aims to change the way we think and talk about addiction. 

MWV Supports Recovery opened its office last month as a RCO — Recovery Community Organization. We have resources for anyone seeking a recovery path. We are training recovery coaches to engage individuals and families with substance use disorder, and we are working with almost every sector in this community to bring recovery support programs to the valley. We are open to the public Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we have a calendar of programs for those in recovery and those supporting recovery to participate in. 

MWV Supports Recovery Coalition, located at 1620 Main Street in Center Conway. For more information, go to mwvsupportsrecovery.org or call us at  (603) 452-7794.

MWV Supports Recovery holding hosting a Community Forum, "Save A Life, Change A Path"

MWV Supports Recovery is hosting a Community Forum, "Save A Life, Change A Path," with screening of the documentary "Cycle: An Addiction Story," which was filmed here in Carroll County, followed by a panel of local experts leading a community discussion of the issues in our county. The forum will take place at the North Conway Community Center, 2628 White Mountain Hwy, North Conway, today from 5-8 p.m.

The panel will include Janice Spinney, Conway Police Detective Chris Mattei, Emily Benson from United Way Public Health, and Eric Moran and Yvonne Meisner from White Horse Recovery in Ossipee. Several local state representatives also may attend.


Prior to the film, Carroll County Coalition for Public Health will provide a brief training and demonstration of how to administer naloxone to members of the general public from 5-6 p.m. Those individuals successfully completing the training will be given a kit containing two doses of naloxone at no cost.

The naloxone is being provided by the New Hamphire Department of Health and Human Services.

The documentary screening and open discussion are set to take place from 6-8 p.m. A $3 donation per person is requested.


If you would like more information, contact Janice Spinney at MWV Supports Recovery by email at mwvaddictionsupport@gmail.com or by phone 603-662-0668. You can find the MWV Supports Recovery on Facebook, Twitter, and on the Web at www.mwvsupportsrecovery.org.


The forum is made possible by a grant from the N.H. Charitable Foundation and Green Granite Foundation, North Conway.


Soups & Songs raises nearly $1,500 for Memorial Hospital’s A New Life Program, MWV Supports Recovery
~Conway Daily Sun

CONWAY — Soups & Songs, the second annual dinner and concert fundraiser for recovery services in the Mount Washington Valley, raised nearly $1,500 to benefit Memorial Hospital’s A New Life Program and MWV Supports Recovery.

The event was held earlier this month at the Center Conway United Methodist Church; attendees were treated to a concert and communal dinner.

Kathy Bennett, Thom Perkins and Taylor Whiteside performed a concert of original folk and Americana music. Homemade soups and entrees were served in home-thrown pottery bowls made by local artist Jenny Lanoie and her students. 

A New Life, launched three years ago at Memorial, offers a structured, comprehensive program that promotes a coordinated, centralized care approach. By linking the midwifery/obstetric care and more involved treatment for substance use disorder, it improves the coordination of care, the patient experience, ongoing maternal success and newborn health. Pregnancy often becomes a time when women struggling with addiction have new motivation to address their problems. For more information, go to memorialhospitalnh.org/anewlife.

MWV Supports Recovery combines transitional sober living with continued support. This helps women transition to a sober lifestyle after completing primary or extended residential treatment.

This program allows a more complete exploration of the issues that fuel drug and alcohol addiction, and opens the door to a shared understanding of how these problems affect women. This type of environment has a high rate of success in both recovery and relapse deterrence rates.

For more information, go to mwvsupportsrecovery.org.