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‘The Revolving Door’

Sununu tours recovery center

Telegraph photo by ADAM URQUHART Gov. Chris Sununu speaks with GH Recovery Solutions Chief Operating Officer Chris Foster on Thursday afternoon. Foster led Sununu on a tour to show him how center officials help their clients.

By ADAM URQUHART

Staff Writer

NASHUA – As fentanyl, heroin and opioids continue crippling New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu stopped by GH Recovery Solutions to see firsthand what is happening on the frontlines in addressing the battle against addiction.

“What happens in Nashua is so different than what might be happening in Claremont or Rochester, or Coos or Grafton right around the state,” Sununu said while speaking to clients seeking help with their addictions.

“They’re all private. They’re all individual, but we’re really trying to make sure they’re part of that spiderweb network,” Sununu added.

For example, Sununu’s Hub and Spoke model has a vision that provides treatment and recovery options, no matter where someone is in the state. If an addict is receiving treatment in Nashua, but later finds a job in Berlin, this network provides a sort of warm hand.

Sununu said the most important part of addressing this addiction crisis is not just the treatment and recovery, however.

“It’s housing – getting a job in a recovery friendly workplace, right, all those other wraparound services, services for your family,” Sununu said. “We understand that with the level of addiction that we’re dealing with now, you got to have all these services.”

That is why Sununu visits centers such as GH Recovery Solutions the situation. He shared a story with clients about how the state’s Hub and Spoke model was inspired when he was attending a Fourth of July parade up in Woodsville. Sununu was standing around after the parade and began having a conversation with a woman, approximately age 27, who had young kids with her.

During their talk, she mentioned a treatment center in Manchester, adding she did not plan to go there.

This took Sununu by surprise, and he questioned her on whether she struggled with substance use. That is when he learned she has been a functional addict for years. He offered her help, but said she was concerned about losing her job and possibly her kids if she went to a treatment center in Manchester, many miles away. He said she told him that she appreciated the concern, but was going to wait. That stuck with him moving forward, those simple words, “I’ll tough it out.”

“That’s the problem,” Sununu said. “Rural access to care. We need a network, right. She wanted to get help, but we didn’t create a network that could understand the fact that she didn’t want to leave her home; she didn’t want to leave her community; she didn’t want to leave her job; she didn’t want to be fired. So that got me driven to our new program of recovery friendly workplaces. So, we now certify in the state, all across the state, workplaces that are recovery friendly.”

Although he has never seen the young woman since that interaction in Woodsville, Sununu said he gives her 100% of the credit for creating the Hub and Spoke network now in place.

What More Is Needed?

GH Recovery Case Manager Carrie Richards said right now, they need everything, including more prevention, more crisis intervention more beds and more sober housing as just some examples.

“We do need more funding for addicts that are in recovery for when they go out and try getting back in the mainstream,” Richards said.

The center moved into the location in February and began work in March. They are increasing staff, such as with hiring new therapists. Despite having 140 beds among GH Recovery Solutions and GateHouse Treatment, it is still not enough.

Chief Operating Officer Chris Foster said the major need consists of more beds. Foster said the average stay for people receiving care at GH Recovery Solutions is about four months, while at GateHouse it is about six months.

Though times are still tough, Foster said he believes the crisis is getting better.

“I believe people like Gov. Sununu is making a difference,” Foster said. “It’s not something that you can throw money at. Money is not going to solve this problem. It’s going to be about prevention; it’s going to be about awareness; it’s going to be about professionals like Ed (Chief Executive Officer Ed McDonough) and myself being out there on the frontlines, in the trenches.”

Sununu also said money alone cannot fix the problem. However, he said money can create infrastructure so that in the long-term, those in need have something on which to rely. Sununu hopes to reach a point at which someone who ends up getting addicted to a substance knows where to go in a system that they can trust.

“The whole point is to break the revolving door,” Sununu said.

“Do not expect Concord to come up with answers unless they come from these stories,” Sununu said of state government. “That’s really the key to a lot of this.”

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.