MANCHESTER, NH – The Board of Aldermen unanimously approved using money from the city cash fund to support services for those struggling with addiction.
The proposal came before the board Tuesday night asking for $75,000 to be used by a cooperative formed by three city organizations – Serenity Place, Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, and New Horizons – to create a pilot wrap-around program to provide assistance to those seeking help from addiction. An additional $40,000 was requested and approved to keep eight detox beds up and running at Serenity Place through the end of December.
The cost of staffing and services for the detox program is about $145 per day per bed, said Sharon Drake of Serenity Place.
“We are day-by-day funded. We fight every single day,” said Drake. “It’s a continuous process.”
She explained to the board that the organization, which has been dedicated to serving those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction since 1977, has been struggling to afford the eight beds, dedicated to those detoxing, which is the first phase of recovery from addiction.
Mayor Ted Gatsas said that while he supported the plan, he proposed funding one month for the detox beds at $20,000 until there was more information available to the board about how the money was to be allocated. However, several board members spoke in favor of funding the full $40,000.
“Your honor I don’t know if there’s a more important vote we can take, this is about helping out a fellow citizen,” said Alderman Dan O’Neil. “I don’t want to say it’s a no-brainer, but Alderman Barry and I have dealt with a friend who lost a son, a young man we’ve known since he was an infant, to heroin.”
Alderman Pat Long, who brought the proposal to the Special Committee on Alcohol, Drugs and Youth Services Monday night, said it would take 30 to 60 days to get the wrap-around program up and running. Part of the plan includes Serenity Place moving its administrative offices to another location to allow for walk-in hours for those seeking services between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
He said the initial $75,000 would allow the program to get up and running, but would not cover the cost of moving the administrative office.
Such services have already organically started to be delivered through collaboration between Serenity Place and Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, a community recovery center which opened in July. Emergency beds would be made available through New Horizons on a case by case basis should the need arise, said Drake.
She described a common scenario in which someone who has overdosed on heroin and been revived with Narcan says they are ready for help, but presently, there has been no one there to guide the process.
She said not only would the program serve those seeking a way out of addiction, but also help support families, who are also struggling because of the emotional, financial and physical fall-out that happens when a loved one is actively using drugs.
The pilot program would allow for that person to be in immediate contact with a recovery coach and arrangements could be made for emergency shelter, should it be required, and help finding placement for recovery services and support.
Holly Cekala, director of Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, said the current limitations all of the agencies experience could be helped by such a collaboration, and that they support all paths to recovery – not all those seeking an escape from addiction require residential treatment, she said.
Alderman Tom Katsiantonis proposed that the mayor negotiate with the non-profit cannabis dispensary for supplemental funding for such a program. Prime Alternative Treatment Centers of NH Inc. is planning to hang a shingle in the city.
“Last month we had a public hearing for a new dispensary. I would say we should ask them because they are non-profit, if they are willing to help by giving money to the city,” Katsiantonis said. “If the board can give the OK to the mayor, maybe he can negotiate with them and see what they can do for us.”
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