Cheshire County Drug Court Program Names Kate Robertson as Clinical Coordinator

Kate Robertson

Phoenix House New Hampshire is happy to announce the appointment of Katherine Robertson as Clinical Coordinator of the Cheshire County Drug Court Program, located in Keene, New Hampshire. Working with the Drug Court team at Phoenix House Keene Center, Kate provides evidence-based individual outpatient counseling and conducts group sessions three times each week. The team works hard to ensure that all clients follow their treatment plans and stay on track to healthy recovery.

Kate is a native of the Washington, D.C. area, but fell in love with New Hampshire’s rugged beauty on her first visit and has made the Granite State her home for the past 18 years.  Speaking of her new position, she said, “Clinical work is my first love. It means so much to be able to support people in their recovery.”  Kate holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, with a focus on substance abuse. She is a Master Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (MLADC) and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor.

The Cheshire County Drug Court Program was made possible by a federal grant of nearly $1,000,000 in order to steer nonviolent drug offenders who face felony charges into treatment rather than incarceration. Spearheaded by Neil Gaer, Phoenix House New England’s vice president, the grant allows Keene Center to provide assessment and substance abuse treatment services on an outpatient basis to more than 120 offenders over a three-year period. Services provided include substance use disorder group treatment, individual counseling, medication management, and mental health services. Treatment lasts an average of 12 to 24 months.

Phoenix House Keene Center provides intensive outpatient treatment for adults with substance use disorders and those with co-occurring mental health issues. There is also a boarding option for clients who need treatment but live too far away to commute to the program. Additional Phoenix House programs in Cheshire County include Phoenix House Dublin Center, which provides residential treatment and sober living services for adults, and Phoenix House Academy at Dublin, offering residential treatment and academic tutoring to adolescents aged 13 to 18.  In Central New Hampshire, Phoenix House Franklin Center provides crisis management, residential treatment, and transitional living services for male and female adults, while the Phoenix House Sober Living Center at Cornerstone provides recovery housing for adult males in early recovery.

If someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, please call Phoenix House today at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435).  We’re always here to help.

Phoenix House Academy Live at the Boston Celtics!

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It was the thrill of a lifetime when the young clients at Phoenix House Academy in Dublin were treated to a Boston Celtics home game recently at Boston’s TD Garden.  The excitement of attending a live NBA basketball game and cheering on New England’s beloved home team was made all the keener by the Celtics’ nail-biter 103-100 victory over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. This memorable outing was made possible by a generous gift from the members of The Club National, a civic organization in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Providing healthy recreational and cultural opportunities for young people in residential treatment for addiction is an essential factor in Phoenix House’s services for youth. As youngsters relearn the pleasures of sober, drug- and alcohol-free pastimes, they build their recovery skills while developing healthy interests which will support long-term sobriety.

Phoenix House Academy in Dublin is a coeducational facility providing residential substance abuse rehabilitation and education services to adolescents ages 14-18 from throughout New Hampshire.  Located on the same beautiful, historic grounds as Phoenix House Dublin Center, the Academy provides young clients with the tools they need to overcome alcohol and other drugs, get back on track in school, and go on to a healthy, drug-free future.

If you know a young person who needs help with a drug or alcohol problem, call 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435).  Someone is always there to help.

Curbing Teen Substance Use in New Hampshire

high school teens Preventing alcohol and drug use among adolescents is a high priority in all of our communities these days. Phoenix House has always been a leader in efforts to curb teenage substance abuse by teaming up with schools, law enforcement, and parents’ groups to educate teens about the dangers of drinking, smoking, and other drug use.

The city of Keene, New Hampshire, has seen an alarming increase in adolescent substance use, with rates of marijuana and alcohol consumption at significantly higher levels than in the rest of the state.  But the city is taking positive steps to combat the problem. Phoenix House staff recently met with other local drug prevention and treatment to talk about how the community can reduce substance abuse and direct kids to healthier paths.

The school is undertaking prevention strategies that include engaging students in positive activities such as sports, theater, and community service.  Parent education and engagement in prevention activities are also vital to their success.

Phoenix House provides early intervention services for teens in the Keene area through Self-Assessment Saturdays for Youth (SASY), a series of weekly sessions that help at-risk youngsters assess their own level of involvement with drugs or drinking.  If treatment is warranted, adolescents may receive residential rehabilitation with intensive academic tutoring at Phoenix House Academy in Dublin.

In December 2013, Keene High School hired Jennifer Whitehead as substance abuse counselor to provide confidential advice and guidance to troubled students. Jennifer, who spent seven years as a counselor at Phoenix House Keene Center, brings a wealth of understanding and compassion to her work with the kids at Keene High School.

If you know an adolescent who is struggling with addiction, call Phoenix House today at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435).  Someone is ready to help at any time of day or night.

True Story: Nicole

Nicole and husbandI didn’t grow up around any drugs. I didn’t know anything about them—I think I smoked pot maybe once in high school. I was born and raised in New Hampshire in a tiny little town. I married my high school sweetheart; we started dating when I was 14 and got married when I was 18. We had two kids, a great house; I was a preschool teacher and I established my own stay-home daycare. I gave it all up in the blink of an eye.

I turned 30 and had a crisis.  My husband and I split up, and it was a horrible breakup. He was devastated and very depressed, and I didn’t want any part in his sadness. I loved him and I didn’t want to be responsible for what he might do. Now, looking back at it, drugs were my “out”—my way of dealing with all that stuff. My husband would take the kids on weekends, and I would party.

Alcohol was my gateway drug. Before, we hardly ever had alcohol in the house, and if we did we’d have one bottle that lasted a whole year. But now I was partying every weekend and dating a guy who was into heroin. Soon I realized that if I took a Vicodin and drank half of what I normally would, I’d still get wasted and wouldn’t even have a hangover the next day. My relationship with the guy progressed, and I started snorting—Oxycontin, all of that stuff. That was April, and by August I was a daily intravenous drug user.

Now, looking, back, I can’t even understand why I did it. I’m just not that person, but I was. I lost 100 pounds in nine months. Over the next nine months, I lost my car, my house, and my job. My boyfriend and I broke up and I actually got back together with my ex-husband; I thought he would be my safety from the drugs, that he’d bring me back to who I was. I wanted to return to that nice, quiet, mellow life, but the addiction was too strong.

Even though my husband had no prior drug use, even though I thought he was my golden ticket to sobriety, I stayed clean for only three days when we got back together. Instead of staying sober, I shot him up too. I realize now that I could have killed him; I gave him the dose I was giving myself, and I’d been a daily drug user for nine months. His addiction started with me and then it took off on its own.

One horrible moment that I keep reliving to this day was when my daughter found our drugs, a whole box, needles and everything. She went to school and told her guidance counselor. I screamed at her when I found out—yelled and cried and called her a traitor. I didn’t touch her but I was verbally abusive, I was so angry. That’s something I still feel terrible about; she and I still talk about it today and I still apologize. I’m so sorry for what I put her through.

During our mutual drug use, my husband and I had the idea to copy the raffle tickets from our kids’ sports teams and sell them. Of course we used the money to buy drugs. Then I got a call from my daughter’s cheerleading coach, and I thought it might be a “Hey, as your friend I think you might need help” conversation but instead it was “Hey, we’ve kicked your daughter off the team and are charging you with theft by deception.”

I didn’t care about the theft charges, none of that mattered to me, but kicking my daughter off a team she’d been with for six years? It was the first time I really saw what I was doing to my kids—that was my rock bottom. I finally realized that my actions had a major effect on them and I knew I couldn’t do this anymore. So I entered Phoenix House Franklin Center to get help. I entered with nothing, not even a driver’s license, and I gained so much. I did detox and I did 28 days of treatment. My sister is a social worker and she was a great help in the situation; she voluntarily signed my kids over so she could have them while I was in treatment.

It took me a year and a half to get completely sober. After residential treatment I continued with Phoenix House outpatient programming and June 12, 2011 was the last time I ever saw that needle. Before that I relapsed twice, but each time I knew what to do; I called Phoenix House and they got me back on track. I still have all those numbers in my phone, and to this day I know I can call Phoenix House anytime. I know that no matter who picks up, I’ll be talking to a friend.

I have a different life now and I like that. I’ve remarried and I’m back at my job as a preschool teacher. I have a sponsor; her daughter and mine are on the same softball team. All the girls at my work know what I’ve been through, but I don’t let it define me. My new husband and I have full custody of my children and we raise them together; my relationship with my ex-husband is a work in progress, but he also went through a treatment program, which is a good thing. There are people I used to use with whom I really loved, but I know I can’t be near them anymore. I’ve given that up for my sobriety.

Recently, my nephew passed away. He was only nine years old, and it was so tragic, but I remember thinking how blessed I felt just to be there for my kids. Something like that wouldn’t have affected me if I were using. I would have been zonked out on drugs. But instead I was able to be fully present and express my own feelings of grief and guide my kids through that time. We made a memory jar for my nephew, with pictures and special things, and I felt like I was actually doing what I was supposed to do—being present for my kids.

When I was a mother addicted to drugs, treatment seemed like such an impossibility. I thought I could never do it because I had kids and responsibilities that I had to prioritize. But I’ll tell you what—I’d never be able to prioritize my kids and responsibilities if I were dead. Yes, I had to leave my kids for a little bit, but the alternative was leaving them for life. Phoenix House gave me the help I needed to become the mother my kids deserve.

Phoenix House Sober Living Center at Cornerstone

We provide a safe and supportive living experience for men completing substance abuse treatment.

Located in central New Hampshire’s scenic Lakes District, the Phoenix House Sober Living Center at Cornerstone provides a safe, supportive living environment for adult men who have completed treatment for substance abuse.  Residents at the 12-bed sober living facility enjoy a community living experience, supporting each other in sobriety as they practice the lessons and skills they learned in treatment.

Phoenix House Cornerstone is overseen by a housing coordinator and is located in a safe residential neighborhood within walking distance of public transportation.  Residents come from all walks of life and backgrounds and have access to daily Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, work opportunities, personal services, educational facilities, and recreational activities. Phoenix House Franklin Center, a nearby residential facility providing crisis intervention, detoxification, and short-term residential treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is also available to Phoenix House Cornerstone residents if additional support is needed. Random drug testing is performed by the housing coordinator and manager to help ensure sustained sobriety.

Northfield, New Hampshire, offers numerous recreational opportunities, such as hiking, skiing, swimming, fishing, and boating, as well as work opportunities and educational facilities. Support services such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings are held nearby, and public transportation is available to take residents to work or meetings.

An Honor for Phoenix House
Kate Robertson New Futures

Kate Robertson, Program Director, Phoenix House Dublin Center, accepts the Tom Fox Scholarship for Treatment from Linda Saunders Paquette, Executive Director, New Futures.

It’s always great to be honored by your peers for making outstanding contributions to your field.  Phoenix House New Hampshire is very proud of Kate Robertson, program director, Phoenix House Dublin Center, who received the Dr. Tom Fox Scholarship for Treatment at the New Futures Annual Recognition Event on Thursday, October 17.

The scholarship, which will enable Kate to enhance her skills as a professional through additional training, is named in memory of Dr. Tom Fox, a renowned expert in the fields of mental health and substance abuse in New Hampshire.  This award recognizes leadership and outstanding service in the delivery of addiction treatment, as well as a commitment to advocacy on related issues.

New Futures, based in Concord, New Hampshire, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocacy, education, and collaboration for the reduction of alcohol and drug problems in the Granite State.  The Annual Recognition Event honors individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions in the treatment field and in promoting progressive alcohol and drug policies in the state.

Phoenix House congratulates all the evening’s awardees, including: Nicole Hayden, Concord Coalition (Advocacy in Action Award); Dover Youth to Youth (Youth in Action Award); Heidi Copeland, Matt Mowry, and Sheryl Rich, Business NH Magazine (Media Excellence Award); Susan McKeown (Executive Director Award); The Honorable Jeanie Forrester, New Hampshire State Senate (Legislator of the Year Award); Betsy House, The Youth Council (Tom Fox Excellence Award); and Kim Haley, Second Start (Tom Fox Prevention Scholarship).

Phoenix House New Hampshire provides a wide range of substance abuse treatment services in the Granite State.  Phoenix House Dublin Center and Franklin Center provide comprehensive residential treatment for adults, and teens reconnect with their studies while receiving residential treatment at Phoenix House Academy at Dublin.  For those requiring a less intensive level of treatment, Phoenix House Keene Center offers day treatment and intensive outpatient services, and a special program for at-risk youngsters.  Transitional living and recovery housing are provided in Dublin, Franklin, and Northfield for those who have completed treatment but can benefit from a supportive, sober living environment.

If someone you love needs help with a drug or alcohol problem, please call 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435) today.  We’re ready to help, any time of night or day.

New Hampshire Drug Court Makes Treatment a Viable Alternative to Incarceration
Cheshire County Courthouse

Cheshire County Courthouse

The federal government has awarded a grant of nearly $1,000,000 to Cheshire County, New Hampshire, for the expansion of its drug court program, according to a recent article in The Keene Sentinel. The Cheshire County Drug Court Program, which opened in June of 2013, aims to steer nonviolent drug offenders who face felony charges into treatment rather than incarceration.

The grant was spearheaded by Neil Gaer, Phoenix House New England’s vice president, senior program director and director of clinical affairs, in collaboration with Amelie Gooding, program director of Phoenix House Keene Center. Through the terms of the grant, Keene Center will provide assessment and treatment services on an outpatient basis to more than 120 offenders over a three-year period. Services provided will include substance use disorder group treatment, individual counseling, medication management, and mental health services. Treatment will be provided by one master’s-level and one bachelor’s-level clinician and will last an average of 12 to 24 months.

“We are thrilled with this award,” stated Mr. Gaer. “The Cheshire County Drug Court Program will be a tremendous boon to the whole county.  Studies have shown that every dollar spent on drug treatment saves the community far more, in terms of reduced crime and violence and increased productivity. This grant is going to save lives.”

Phoenix House Keene Center provides outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment for adults with substance use disorders and those with co-occurring mental health issues. There is also a boarding option for clients who need treatment but live too far away to commute to the program. Additional Phoenix House programs in Cheshire County include Phoenix House Dublin Center, which provides residential treatment and sober living services for adults and Phoenix House Academy in Dublin, offering residential treatment and academic tutoring to adolescents aged 13 to 18.

In Merrimack County, Phoenix House Franklin Center provides crisis management, residential treatment, and transitional living services for male and female adults, while the Phoenix House Sober Living Center at Cornerstone provides recovery housing for adult males in early recovery.

If someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, please call Phoenix House today at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435).  We’re always here to help.

True Story: Loralie

A Story of Addiction, Treatment and RecoveryI grew up the oldest of three in a great family. My mom and dad both worked full time, and neither of them was an alcoholic or an addict. However, alcoholism ran in my extended family. When I was around heavy drinking, I thought to myself, “What a bunch of drunks,” and didn’t want to be like that. Little did I know I’d become just like them and probably a lot worse.

I considered myself a social drinker. I started drinking when I was 16 and tried alcohol at a school party. In college I drank a little more excessively, but I thought it was normal. When I started nursing school I limited my drinking mainly to the weekends and clubs and city life.

Then I graduated from nursing school, and a year later I got married and was introduced to a whole new world. I was pretty much naïve to hard drugs, but at 23 I found myself doing cocaine. What started out as maybe once every Friday night turned into every Wednesday and Friday, and then Wednesday and Friday and Saturday. That put a lot of stress on my marriage, and when I was 30, I separated and decided it just wasn’t going to work out.

I became clinically depressed. I tried to get help professionally and was put on antidepressants, went to a couple of counseling sessions but never really followed through on anything. When a family member introduced me to heroin, it just numbed everything else for me—made me forget all of the feelings of failure from my marriage, having to leave my job, my friends, having to move back home after being out of the house for almost 14 years. I was caught up in the whirlwind of using drugs and lying, cheating, stealing to get more. I really didn’t care about anyone or anything at that time, especially not myself.

A couple years later I had been to multiple detoxes and finally went on methadone  when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I went on methadone for four years until November of 2007, when my mom got sick with cancer and I knew I’d have to care for her and take her to daily treatments. I switched to Suboxone. My mom ended up dying in 2009, and I managed to stay off heroin but started taking Xanax and Klonopin along with Suboxone.

Then my brother, who was 27 at the time, killed himself. I started taking more of the Xanax to just numb my emotions away. I managed to stay away from the heroin and I was taking Suboxone as ordered, but I was also taking other things with it. I never did a twelve-step program or had any other supports. I was just existing day by day.

In 2011, I hit some black ice driving home from a nursing shift, rolled my car, and broke my hip. I was in the hospital and bed rest for two months. I lost my job, lost the place where I was living. That triggered a whole downward spiral for me, and I started using heroin again. The progression was awful. I picked up where I left off and got worse. I went to multiple detoxes between 2011 and January of 2013. I was arrested multiple times. I was put on probation. I was in jail over Christmas and New Year’s of this year and estranged from my children.

Finally I was just so beat down. I had just come out of a four day detox, and my obsession was so strong I started using immediately. My hospital gave me Phoenix House’s name as an in-network extended rehab.  On April 17, I called Phoenix House in Keene, New Hampshire, in complete desperation.

I was very grateful to get into Phoenix House, but I wasn’t really ready to get clean because I would have to deal with my feelings and all the chaos I’d created. But after coming to Phoenix House, I learned so much about myself and my addiction. I never really put any work into developing any supports or coping mechanisms. My only coping mechanism was to numb my feelings away and just not feel them. This is the first time I’ve ever done an extended program, and I wish that I had done a program like it ten years ago.

The staff here has pushed me to deal with the underlying issues of why I turned to drugs and alcohol.  This experience has just been amazing – it really saved my life. When my nursing license came up for renewal, the New Hampshire Board of Nursing reinstated it in full, with no restrictions. But my own feelings of self-respect and self-worth are the biggest gifts Phoenix House has given me. I have people I‘ve met through Phoenix House – staff members who have taken extra time and gone above and beyond to help me out—who believe in me and want to see me do well and succeed. People are willing to help me and believe in me and think that I’m worth it. That’s a feeling I haven’t had in a long time.

If you or a loved one needs help for a substance abuse issue, Phoenix House is here for you. Email us or call today at 1-800-378-4435.

From One Academy to Another
Phillips Exeter Academy

Phillips Exeter Academy

There’s an old saying that teachers are taught by their students.  But sometimes the students can teach each other the most important lessons.

The young clients at Phoenix House Academy in Dublin frequently visit schools in the southern New Hampshire area to share their personal stories of struggles with—and triumph over—substance abuse.  These cautionary tales are taken very seriously by the students who hear them, and they often send their own responses in writing, expressing their appreciation for both the lessons shared and the courage of the Phoenix House residents in presenting them.

Recently, several youngsters from the Academy in Dublin visited Phillips Exeter Academy, one of the nation’s most prestigious preparatory schools, and addressed nearly 300 students from the ninth through twelfth grade.  For nearly an hour they shared their often painful experiences with a thoughtfulness and honesty that made a deep impression on their audience, both students and teachers.

As frequently happens, the Phillips Exeter administration showed its appreciation of the visit with a generous contribution to Dublin Academy.  But it was the reaction of Exeter’s students that made the speaking engagement most worthwhile, as they expressed their deepened understanding of addiction and its consequences, as well as their determination to examine their own opinions of and experiences with drugs and alcohol.

Phoenix House Academy at Dublin provides residential substance abuse treatment and customized academic tutoring for male and female adolescents, aged 13 through 17.  The Academy’s work to help teens overcome addiction is complemented by Phoenix House Dublin Center’s residential rehabilitation program for adults, which also provides specialized treatment for individuals with co-occurring mental health issues.  Phoenix House Keene Center, located nearby, provides outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment for adults and adolescents, as well as transitional living services for those who have completed rehab.  Additional Phoenix House programs in New Hampshire include Phoenix House Franklin Center, which offers detoxification and crisis management, residential treatment, and transitional living; and the Phoenix House Sober Living Center at Cornerstone.

If someone you care for is struggling with drugs or alcohol, please call 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435).  We’re here to help at any time, night or day.

Climb for Recovery: Saturday, June 22

Mount Monadnock

Come and join Phoenix House on Saturday, June 22, for the fourth annual Climb for Recovery! at Monadnock State Park.  It’s going to be a great day of outdoor adventure on the trails of beautiful Mount Monadnock, and we guarantee good weather!

Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. at the Main Pavilion of Monadnock State Park, and refreshments will be provided, along with Climb mementos. A raffle with great prizes will add to the excitement.

All funds raised by Climb for Recovery! support Phoenix House’s substance abuse treatment programs throughout New Hampshire.  Within the shadow of Mount Monadnock, Phoenix House Academy at Dublin provides residential treatment and academic tutoring to adolescents; Phoenix House Dublin Center offers comprehensive residential services for adults, including those with co-occurring mental health issues, as well as transitional living for those who have completed rehabilitation.  Phoenix House Keene Center provides day treatment with an option for boarding, intensive outpatient services for adults, and a special outpatient program for at-risk adolescents. Farther afield, Phoenix House Franklin Center provides crisis intervention, residential rehabilitation, and transitional living, while Phoenix House Sober Living Center at Cornerstone offers sober housing for adult men in early recovery.

Registration fees are $20 per person, $10 for additional family members aged 15 and over, and kids under 15 are free.  To register online, click here. All participants are urged to ask family and friends to sponsor their efforts on behalf of Phoenix House.  For more information, please call 603 563 8107, Ext. 4562.

Don’t miss this day of exhilarating outdoor adventure in support of health, wellness, and recovery.  Get your boots on and Climb for Recovery!

Come and Climb with Phoenix House
Two happy climbers

Two happy climbers

Phoenix House’s fourth annual Climb for Recovery! at Monadnock State Park is set for Saturday, June 22, with  rain date of Saturday, June 29—just in case.  We know nothing can dampen the spirits of our climbers, but—just in case—if the weather does threaten, check this web page for rain date confirmation.

After registration at 10:00 a.m. at the Main Pavilion of Monadnock State Park, participants will hike selected trails to the summit of beautiful Mount Monadnock, one of the world’s most frequently climbed mountains.  Each participant will receive a Phoenix House water bottle and other mementos.  Refreshments will be provided and a raffle with great prizes will add to the excitement.

All funds raised by Climb for Recovery! support Phoenix House’s substance abuse treatment programs throughout New Hampshire.  Within the shadow of Mount Monadnock, Phoenix House Academy at Dublin provides residential treatment and academic tutoring to adolescents; Phoenix House Dublin Center offers comprehensive residential services for adults, including those with co-occurring mental health issues; and Phoenix House Keene Center provides detoxification, outpatient treatment for adults and adolescents, as well as transitional living for those who have completed rehabilitation.  Farther afield, Phoenix House Franklin Center provides crisis intervention, detoxification, residential rehabilitation, and transitional living, while Phoenix House Sober Living Center at Cornerstone offers sober housing for adult men in early recovery.

Registration costs are $20 per person, $10 for additional family members aged 15 and over, with kids under 15 admitted free of charge.  To register online, click here.  All participants are urged to ask family and friends to sponsor their efforts on behalf of Phoenix House.  For more information, please call 603 563 8107, Ext. 4562.  We look forward to seeing many members of the community on Mount Monadnock as we all Climb for Recovery together!

True Story: Dawn and Orion

Dawn and OrionI am a mother of three, and I work as an administrative assistant at a police department. I have 18 years of law enforcement work experience as well as an active duty enlistment in the Air Force. My husband of 11 years has been a police officer for 25 years. We are used to fighting the war on drugs in our daily work lives—but we were unprepared to fight it in our own home. In 2011, we were losing our personal war on drugs: our 15-year-old son, Orion, was addicted to Percocet.

Our home had become an unhappy one. Orion acted out, wouldn’t follow our rules, and wouldn’t stop using. I was so frustrated, not to mention afraid that Orion would end up in jail or dead. I was also worried about my younger children being exposed to the dangerous behaviors that went along with Orion’s drug abuse. Needless to say, there was a lot of yelling, crying, and unsuccessful discipline in our house. Nothing was working.

Not that we hadn’t reached out for help—we had. We’d tried psychology appointments, doctor’s appointments, drug and alcohol counseling appointments…but no matter what we did, Orion wouldn’t stop his dangerous behavior. I was so close to giving up, I even thought about dropping him off with his biological father, who was an addict as well.

But on October 26, 2011, my prayers were answered. Orion was admitted to the Phoenix House Academy of Dublin. It was a long hard battle, but it was worth it. At our first 30-day meeting, Orion insisted that we sign him out and allow him to come home. But I told him he couldn’t come home until he successfully completed the program. So he said he would just try to get kicked out. I still said we wouldn’t allow him to come home.

The very next week we were told that Orion had finally begun to “step into treatment.” That was week five, and he really started to flourish. The program gave him the safe environment he needed to start his recovery. The staff worked with him on his problems, pinpointed the causes of his drug use, and provided him with coping skills that he will have for the rest of his life. They also worked with our family to teach us coping skills as well.

The Academy was truly amazing, and the staff were always just a phone call away for us parents. My family and I cannot thank the Phoenix House Academy enough for the months of services that they provided to our son—they literally saved his life. Because of the strength of this program, my younger children now have a brother they can be proud of.

Today, Orion continues to apply what he learned at Phoenix House. Most recently, when I caught him skipping school, we told him to come up with his own punishment. So on his own, he confessed to his assistant principal at school the next day and told him he was willing to accept the consequences because he had messed up. The assistant principal later told me that he’d been very impressed by the way Orion had handled the situation, and that I should be proud. I am proud—the proud parent of a child in recovery. My son is 18 months sober thanks to Phoenix House.

If you or a loved one needs help for substance abuse, call us today at 1-800-378-4435 or send us an email.

True Story: Orion

Orion
I have a family history of drug addiction, and my dad is still currently struggling with it. He and my mom got divorced when I was young, so I was around addiction, but not for very long. Mostly I blame my personality; I was always obsessive about everything I did, always wanted more. I was never satisfied. So when I started using drugs I was just so consumed by it, even from the very first time I smoked weed. I’ve heard some people say that it took them a while before they became addicted, but not me. I was obsessed.

That was when I was about 12, and after that it was drinking and then my drug of choice, which was Percocet. I was never put off by the knowledge of how bad a drug was for me, so I kept trying harder drugs even though people said they could kill me. Once I got into Percocet I pretty much stopped doing everything else and my life just fell apart. I was 14. I got arrested a couple of times, and I couldn’t remember some things I did or said while high. One time my mom was crying, and she said I’d told her I couldn’t stop using even though I wanted to—and I had no memory of ever telling her that.

When I was arrested for the third time, my mom had had enough. She talked to my drug counselor and they referred me to the Phoenix House Academy of Dublin, New Hampshire. I went in for an interview was admitted a week later. I didn’t even have to wait. I was pretty defiant in the beginning, and on my 30-day update I had my bags packed; I was convinced I’d get my mom to let me out. But my family and counselors were like, “Nope, you’re not ready.” I thought, “Oh crap.”

So for two months I was pretty badly behaved but then something clicked – I don’t know what it was – and I started to open myself up and give treatment a chance. It was slow going, mostly because a lot of my behaviors were pretty impulsive. I tended to do whatever I wanted and say whatever I wanted, and I needed to take a closer look at that tendency. In the end, I’m really glad I was there for six months because that’s what I needed to work on my behaviors. For me, my family was a big motivation—making sure I made things OK with them.

I met some of my best friends at the Academy, and I loved all the counselors. I still go up there once every two weeks to visit them, volunteer, and talk to the kids. When I completed treatment I took all the advice they gave me. I stopped hanging out with the kids I used to do drugs with, made new group of friends, got a job, and got my driver’s license. I used to play soccer before I started doing drugs and now that I’m sober I’m able to do that again. I’m still in high school and looking forward to graduating early in January of next year. I’m planning to go to college in Florida to become a psychologist or a counselor.

I live with my mom, my stepdad, my younger brother and younger sister—my other sister lives with my dad. I’ve gained my family’s trust again, and they all enjoy having me around now much more than they used to! I’ll never forget graduating Phoenix House and having my whole family there, my cousins and aunts and everyone telling me they’re proud of me. I mean, my mom didn’t know what to do with me back when I was using, it was really hard on her and it still is when she thinks back on it.

I hope that other kids who are in the position I was in will realize that nobody can make you get sober—you’re the only one who can do that. You’re the only one who can change your life. But believe me, when you do change your life, it will just keep getting better.

If you or a loved one needs help for substance abuse, call us today at 1-800-378-4435 or send us an email.

Phoenix House Cornerstone Opens in New Hampshire
Phoenix House Cornerstone provides safe and supportinve recovery housing.

Phoenix House Cornerstone provides safe and supportinve recovery housing.

Phoenix House Cornerstone, a 12-bed sober living facility in Northfield, New Hampshire, recently opened its doors to provide recovery housing for adult men who have completed treatment for substance abuse, but need a structured, supportive environment to help them make the transition to independent living.

Support for those in the early stages of recovery from addiction

Recovery housing is based on the belief that many individuals need to spend additional time in a stable, supportive environment in order to reinforce sobriety.  Recovery housing provides assistance in maintaining a healthy, drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle.  Phoenix Houses of New England has become a leader in providing this type of transitional living throughout the region.

Phoenix House Cornerstone is overseen by a housing coordinator and is located in a safe residential neighborhood within walking distance of public transportation.  Residents come from all walks of life and backgrounds and have access to daily Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, work opportunities, personal services, educational facilities, and recreational activities.  Phoenix House Franklin Center, a nearby residential facility providing crisis intervention, detoxification, and short-term residential treatment, is also available to Cornerstone residents if additional support is needed.  Random drug testing is performed by the housing coordinator and manager to help ensure sustained sobriety.

Phoenix Houses of New England is a leader in providing recovery housing throughout the region. If you or someone you love needs help in attaining or sustaining recovery from drugs or alcohol, please call 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435).  Help is never more than a phone call away!

True Story: Kristin

My parents got divorced when I was very young and my mom remarried.  I consider my stepfather my dad and he thinks of me as his daughter.  I had a really good childhood.  I was given every opportunity—all the love and affection you could imagine.  But this disease can happen to anyone.  My biological father was an addict and I believe for me, addiction is hereditary.  As a kid, I always felt different.  I was overweight, and I’d hide food and eat it.  I’d lie to friends and steal money from my parents.  I was awkward and scared of everything.

At 15, I got drunk for the first time and liked it.  On my 16th birthday, I got really drunk.  I was scared that my parents would be angry, but they ended up saying, “We’re not mad.  We’re just disappointed.”  After that, I basically became a dry drunk.  I was really into punk rock and had a lot of teen angst.  When I was 18, I was in community college and I tried cocaine for the first time.  The combination of alcohol and coke really did it for me.  I barely finished college.  I lived above a head shop and started tattooing, which played into my partying lifestyle.  Later on, I moved to Boston and stopped tattooing.  My drinking and drugs came first.

By the time I left Boston, I was having trouble getting out of bed, my hair was falling out, and my skin was terrible.  I moved back into my mom’s house in New Hampshire, but it took me a year and couple of arrests before I realized I needed help.  One day, I was on my way to go drink and I got a DUI.  I was at double the legal limit and I felt like I hadn’t even started drinking.  That’s how high my tolerance was.  I thought, “God, I’m 26!  This isn’t how I want to lead my life.”  I went to an intensive outpatient program, and that’s when I realized I really had a problem.

Unfortunately, the program wasn’t enough to keep me sober.  My thinking was so warped that I told myself, “You’re a drunken cokehead.  You can try heroin!”  I used heroin for about a month and a half.  During that time, I remember getting on my knees and begging God to help me because I was so weak.  I started calling detoxes and Phoenix House Franklin was the first to call me back.  I went through detox and then transitional living; I worked during the day and came back to Franklin at night.  Then, one day I went out and used.  Instead of lying about it, I told the staff that I had relapsed and needed help.  The amazing thing is, they didn’t kick me out.  They saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.

In September 2009, they sent me to Phoenix House Keene Center and I haven’t used since.  After two weeks, I came back to Franklin and stayed in transitional housing for four months.  The program had 24-hour counseling available, a supportive group of peers, required meetings—everything I needed to get my life back on track.  The staff wasn’t scared to tell me, “This is not OK.”  They really pushed me. After I left Phoenix House, I decided I didn’t want to lose contact.  I started volunteering and speaking about my recovery.

Every week, I do recovery-related art with the clients.  In one of my exercises, I have them fold a piece of paper and then draw all the things they like on one side of the crease.  It can be anything: music, sunsets, friends, family.  On the other side, I have them draw their drug of choice.  By the time they’re done, one side of the paper is filled with cool stuff and the other is just barren.  I tell them, “This is your choice.  If you want that, all this goes away.”  Some clients have a hard time filling up the page with things they like.  I say, “That’s because drugs have stripped you of everything.”  It’s a really powerful visual.

I now have three and a half years clean.  I’ll finish my B.F.A. in May and I was just accepted to a prestigious graduate arts program in New Mexico.  I’m studying to become a professional lithographer; lithography is a printmaking process using limestone.  I feel like my art mirrors my life.  You can do anything using the stone, but you have to follow certain steps—just like I have to follow certain steps in life to bring my goals to fruition.

Today, I’m proud of my relationships with friends and family.  One of the best parts of my recovery has been my renewed connection with my sister.  For a long time, she wanted nothing to do with me.  It’s been a process, but in the last six months, she’s started to come around.  Just the other day, she texted me about a new purse she bought.  It seems like a small thing, but I thought, “She could have told anyone and she told me.”  We love each other, and she finally has a big sister again.

If it weren’t for Phoenix House, I would’ve ended up in jail.  I keep in contact with the staff and I know that if I’m having a problem, I can go in and the counselors will take time out of their day for me.  I could stop by today if I needed to.  The thing I’d tell people who are struggling is, “Just give yourself a chance.  You’re worth it.”  I am not an exception.  Anyone can do this if they try.

 

If you or a loved one needs help for substance abuse, call us today at 1-800-378-4435 or send us an email.

 

Music for a Cause: Keene State College Chamber Singers Partner with Phoenix House
Keene State College Chamber Singers

The Keene State College Chamber Singers will perform a concert to benefit Phoenix House Keene Center

Young musicians at Keene State College have come up with an innovative way to support nonprofit organizations in southern New Hampshire, and this spring Phoenix House Keene Center, which provides residential and outpatient rehabilitation for substance abuse, is the beneficiary of their time and talents.

Each semester, the Keene State College Chamber Singers partner with a nonprofit organization in the Monadnock region.  The Singers learn about the organization’s mission, prepare music based on that theme, perform outreach events, and finally donate 20 percent of concert proceeds to the organization.  In the past, the Singers have partnered with Hundred Nights Shelter, Stonewall Farm, and the Monadnock Conservancy. During the Spring 2013 semester, Phoenix House Keene Center will benefit from this creative and generous musical partnership.

Don’t Miss This Concert in Support of Recovery!

On Sunday, April 14, 2013, the Chamber Singers will present a concert entitled “ARISE!  Songs of Triumphant Beauty.”  The concert will feature Mozart’s “Regina Coeli” and Bernstein’s “The Lark,” with guest countertenor soloist, Aaron Russo. Other works by Nystedt, Arcadelt, Stanford, Gibbons, and Passereau will also be performed.  A pre-concert lecture panel will begin at 2:30 p.m. followed by the performance at 3:00 p.m. in Redfern Art Center’s Alumni Recital Hall. The Chamber Singers are conducted by Dr. Sandra Howard and student assistant conductor Hannah Hall, and are joined by collaborative pianist Cheryl Sharrock.

To learn more about Phoenix House and our services, the singers invited Amelie Gooding, Program Director, Phoenix House Keene Center, to visit the Keene State campus and answer questions regarding Keene Center’s services to the community, the ways in which drug and alcohol treatment have changed over time, the impact of funding questions on individual access to recovery services, the range of individuals affected by substance abuse, and ways in which the Singers themselves could contribute to educating the general public on addiction and helping people in crisis.  As a follow-up, the Singers plan a visit to Keene Center where they will meet with clients, listen to their stories, and learn from their experiences.

New Hampshireis a state hit hard by the current economic climate, and substance abuse treatment programs have been particularly affected.  To see these young musicians take such a deep and generous interest in helping Phoenix House provide a healthier, happier future to drug- and alcohol-troubled people is heartwarming indeed!

Every day, Phoenix Houses of New England’s 45 programs help hundreds of people who are struggling with addiction turn their lives around.  For more information on our programs and services, please call 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435).

Phoenix House Dublin Center Honored for Education on Healthy Relationships

Kate Robertson acepts MCVP awardThe Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Keene, New Hampshire, recently honored Phoenix House Dublin Center with its Partner in Education Award.  Presented at the Monadnock Center’s Annual Meeting, the award was accepted by Kate Robertson, Program Director, on behalf of Dublin Center.

Each year the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention honors various community partners for their work in helping to advance the Center’s mission.  Phoenix House is deeply aware that violence, including domestic and sexual abuse, is an all too common by-product of substance abuse, and we are fully committed to providing education on healthy relationships as an essential factor in maintaining long-term recovery and healthy lifestyles.

Phoenix House Dublin Center provides residential rehabilitation services to adults with substance abuse disorders, including those with co-occurring mental health issues.  Services include detoxification, short-term residential treatment, and transitional living for those in the early stages of recovery.

The Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention is dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence through providing education and outreach in schools, businesses, and throughout the community.

If you or a loved one are experiencing problems with drugs or alcohol, please call Phoenix House at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435).  We’re here to help!

Q&A: Heavy Drinking in the Granite State

Blog Editors’ Note: Our substance abuse prevention partners at New Futures recently analyzed the costs of excessive alcohol consumption in New Hampshire.  Here, study author and self-proclaimed “nerd” Brian Gottlob shares the report’s key findings.

Phoenix House: Tell us how you partnered with New Futures to conduct this study.

Brian Gottlob: In order to get public policy enacted, lawmakers need to have issues monetized. A cause may be near and dear to an advocacy group like New Futures, but when governments make decisions, they do so with the economic aspect in mind. So, when it came to the problem of excessive alcohol consumption, New Futures needed someone to translate the issue into dollars and cents—and I was the nerd to do it.

Phoenix House: How did you conduct this study; what data sources did you use?

BG: The data was multi-faceted and came from many sources, including unique New Hampshire economic data as well as large national data sets. We determined that excessive alcohol consumption costs New Hampshire more than $1.15 billion annually in lost productivity and earnings, increased expenditures for healthcare, and public safety expenses. When lawmakers see that figure, they’re going to be taken aback. But all the numbers in the report point toward the same conclusion, which gives me confidence that what we’re saying is credible and accurate.

PH: How did you define “excessive alcohol consumption” for the purposes of this study?

BG: There are broad categories of excessive alcohol consumption, but it’s primarily defined as binge drinking, underage drinking, lifetime dependency, and drinking during pregnancy.

PH: Why is this such an issue in our country and in New Hampshire specifically?

BG: Everyone knows someone who has been dramatically or adversely affected by alcohol.  When we look at the aggregate of those individual tragedies and their impact on others, the magnitude of this problem is greater than most people think. It demands to be elevated to a public policy level—especially in New Hampshire where alcohol constitutes the fourth or fifth largest source of revenue for the state. We have no sales tax and a pretty vibrant tourism industry; we have the highest per capita sales of alcoholic beverages of any state in the country. Our state’s motto is “live free or die,” meaning we have a strong belief in limited government and lawmakers don’t jump to come up with services. However, this study makes the case that we can’t just consider the revenue from alcohol sales; we have to step up our efforts to address the costs.

PH: You mention that excessive drinking has a high cost in specific areas, such as productivity and healthcare. What is the significance of these findings?

BG: The thing that really jumps out at me is the productivity aspect. A $700 million loss in productivity may be only one percent of the state economy, but in New Hampshire, that’s still a big number. When businesspeople see the numbers, they can understand and we’re broadening our base of allies. In terms of healthcare, everyone is concerned about medical costs—and the costs of excessive drinking are so preventable.  Only six percent of people who need substance abuse treatment in New Hampshire receive it. Our state spends more than $200 million a year on the health consequences of drinking and a lot of it could be saved if we got more people into treatment. That’s why geeks like me do what we do—to supplement that message with a dollar amount.

PH: What are the implications of this study for the substance abuse treatment field?

BG: My hope is that this study gives the field a tool to make a case for increased rates of treatment and prevention. It’s one thing to say that alcohol is a problem. It’s another thing to show potential savings. The report provides a much stronger argument as to why the state should fund treatment at a higher level.

PH: Whom are you hoping to reach with this report, and what do you hope to accomplish?

BG: The document is designed for policymakers, but also to broaden the coalition on this issue.  If we can make the case that this is about our economy, it puts the conversation on a different plane. An investment in treatment and prevention could save $12,000 a year for every individual in the state who drinks excessively.  Now, we’re not just pointing out a problem.  We’re showing what happens when you choose a solution.

If you or a loved one needs help for substance abuse, call us today at 1-800-378-4435 or send us an email.

Slam Dunk! Phoenix House Academy at Dublin at the Boston Celtics!

TD Garden in BostonIt was the thrill of a lifetime when the young clients from Phoenix House Academy at Dublin, New Hampshire, were treated to a Boston Celtics home game at Boston’s TD Garden on Wednesday, January 9, 2013.  This memorable outing was made possible by a generous gift from the members of The Club National, a civic organization in nearby Nashua, New Hampshire, and coordinated by Philip Francoeur, a member of Phoenix House’s Dublin-Kenne Community Advisory Board.

The excitement of attending a live game and cheering on New England’s outstanding home team was made all the keener by the Celtics’ 87-79 victory over the visiting Phoenix Suns.

Providing healthy recreational and cultural opportunities for young people in residential treatment for substance abuse is an essential factor in Phoenix House’s services for youth.  As youngsters relearn the pleasures of sober, drug- and alcohol-free leisure activities, they build their recovery skills while developing healthy pastimes which support sustained recovery.

Phoenix House Academy at Dublin is a coeducational facility providing residential substance abuse and education services to adolescents ages 14 to 18 from throughout New Hampshire.  Located on the same beautiful, historic grounds as Phoenix House Dublin Center, the Academy provides young clients with the tools they need to overcome substance abuse, get back on track in school, and go on to a healthy, drug-free future.

If you or a loved one are in need of help with drug and/or alcohol addiction, please contact 1-800-DRUG-HELP now.

Healthy Minds + Healthy Bodies = Healthy Recovery

Sledding in SpringfieldResidents of our substance abuse treatment facility, Phoenix House Academy at Springfield, along with staff members John Danielsen and Kim Fernald, took to the hills in South Hadley, Massachusetts, for a day of healthy recreation—sledding, camaraderie, fun and relaxation.  The clients enjoyed a fun-filled day sliding down the slopes, reveling the clean fresh air, and returning to the the academy for a relaxing evening warmed by hot chocolate.

Phoenix House believes that involvement in recreational and physical activity can benefit recovery by reducing the stress that can trigger relapse.  Exercise also helps alleviate boredom, which for some may be a key relapse trigger, and it may benefit teens emotionally by restoring balance in their lives and boosting their self-esteem.

Phoenix Houses of New England provides residential treatment for adolescents in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, in highly structured, family-like environments that address the full range of developmental, educational, and treatment needs of youths ages 14 to 18.  The course of treatment is individualized and may last from three to six months.  In addition to group and family counseling, youths participate in on-site education with state-certified teachers.  Relapse prevention and the development of strong support networks in the home community are emphasized during treatment.

Healthy minds and healthy bodies lead to a healthy recovery!

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, contact Phoenix House today at 1-800-DRUG-HELP