Granite Pathways Offers New Support Group Facilitator Training

Granite Pathways Offers New Support Group Facilitator Training

Are you someone who…

• has a loved one using or misusing substances?
• understands the value of family education and support?
• would like to volunteer to lead or co-lead a family parent support group?

This is your opportunity to help!

Train to facilitate Family Support Groups and help families who are supporting a loved one grappling with substance abuse…on the road to recovery. Training is free of charge.

Support Group Facilitator Training
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Saturday, June 6, 2020
8:30 am—5:00 pm

United Baptist Church
39 Fayette Street
Concord NH 03301

For more information or to apply for this training, contact:

Lynn Fuller

Prescription for Overdose Deaths

Prescription for Overdose Deaths

GP - Safe Harbor Director

According to the New Hampshire Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 2012 saw 163 drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire and increased each successive year, topping out at 488 deaths in 2017.

What is now known is in the immediate years prior to the spike in overdose deaths nearly 281 million oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, opiate-based painkillers, were distributed to pharmacies around New Hampshire between 2006 and 2012.

The abundance of painkillers was enough for residents of Rockingham County to receive 30 pills per person per year and residents of Strafford County to receive 36 pills per person per year in that time window; as Rockingham County was inundated with 63.1 million painkillers and Strafford County receiving 31.2 million in the seven-year period.

Nearly 380 million pills were distributed in the state of Maine. 49.2 million pills were supplied to York County alone, enough for each person in the region to receive 35 pills per year.

The staggering volume of opiate painkillers distributed between the two states accounted for less than 1% of the more than 76 billion pills distributed around the United States between 2006 and 2012, according to a Drug Enforcement Agency database. The database was recently made public as a result of a lawsuit won by The Charleston Gazette-Mail, of Charleston, West Virginia and The Washington Post.

The numbers help better crystallize the root causes of the opioid epidemic for policy makers, recovery specialists, and individuals and families personally affected by the crisis.

″(The database’s numbers) back up the narrative that pharmaceutical companies were indeed a major factor in causing the opioid crisis when there were millions upon millions of pills entering the state,” said David Mara, the Governor’s Advisor on Addiction and Behavioral Health and former chief of police for both Manchester and Portsmouth. “The data shows a correlation to what we were seeing in Manchester at the time with opiate pills being connected to crime. At first, they were prescribed as necessary but there was no plan on the part of pharmaceutical companies and health professionals to prevent patients from becoming addicted.”

However, grasping the enormous volume of legal painkillers sold in every corner of the country doesn’t begin to tell the tens of thousands of stories of friends and loved ones killed, families torn apart, careers ruined and prison sentences as a result of addiction-related crime.

“Citing recent slight progress on death rates is of no comfort to the families of those lost in an epidemic that has seen fatalities double in 10 years,” said Heather Blumenfeld, center director at the Safe Harbor Recovery Center. “The impact to our national economy is now estimated by the CDC at $78.5 billion per year, with 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 alone. The numbers speak for themselves; overdose rates doubled from 2007 to 2017 in lock-step with the explosion in prescription opiate and illicit drug use.”

In 2012, New Hampshire lawmakers passed legislation to start a prescription drug monitoring program, becoming to the 49th state to do so, however, there was significant legislative lag to get the program up and running, said Michelle Ricco-Jonas, program administrator of the New Hampshire Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Between 2012 and 2014, 687 New Hampshire residents still died of drug overdoses, according to Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

“It took an additional two years to secure funding to operationalize the program that would allow prescribers and dispensers access to controlled substance (schedule II, III and IV) information on their patients,” Ricco-Jonas said. “There were no monitoring tools in place in New Hampshire during (the DEA’s) reported time period.”

Mara said beginning in 2013, as prescription drug controls began to be put in place; in the aftermath of 280 million pills being supplied to the state; many individuals who had developed an addiction to their opiate painkillers began seeking less expensive street drug alternatives in the form of heroin and later fentanyl.

“Pills were being abundantly prescribed and people were using them both legitimately and illegally, and by 2013, law enforcement realized the prescription abuse was on a level we’ve never seen before,” Mara said. “By 2013-2014, almost overnight, people were switching to cheaper heroin. In 2015 we were seeing all fentanyl.”

Tym Rourke, director of New Hampshire Tomorrow at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, responsible for awarding grants to combat substance abuse, said the DEA’s data set provides a stark rural versus population-heavy area contrast. For instance, Coos County, Grafton County and Aroostook County in northern Maine, each with populations of less than 90,000 people received enough opiate pills for each resident to receive 35, 39 and 42 pills per year, respectively, according to DEA data.

Rourke said the data can be used to better inform communities and law enforcement on historically heavily supplied areas and how to better strategically deploy resources like prescription drop boxes.

“For the Seacoast, a lot of medication coming into the area is not entirely reflective of a larger amount of substance abuse because it is a healthcare-intensive part of the country being so close to Boston and its network hospitals,” Rourke said. “What is striking is the distribution to rural parts of the country; you have this double-whammy where they are not health care epicenters and small populations being flooded with prescription pills.”

Mara said New Hampshire has made significant progress treating opioid addiction in recent years and stemming the flow of both prescription and illegal opiates. Though he said the state still has a way to go to build the necessary treatment capacity. He said he wanted to distinguish between patients suffering from chronic pain who are prescribed opioids and people who have fallen into a cycle of substance misuse.

“Everybody is doing a better job; doctors are much more aware of the consequences of prescribing opioids; overdose deaths have gone down,” Mara said. “We now have the ability for an individual seeking help to hand them off from each point from treatment, to primary care, to therapy; until they are in long-term recovery, with the understanding people have setbacks.”

East Kingston’s Jim and Jeanne Moser, started the Zero-Left campaign in the wake of their son Adam dying from a drug overdose in 2015. The Mosers attributed their son’s addiction to leftover opiate painkillers from previous surgeries.

The couple’s campaign seeks to educate families of the dangers posed by unfinished prescriptions, and Jim Moser said he has applauded legislative efforts to place warning labels on opiate-based painkillers when prescribed today. Though he has said all along, he does not want to vilify opioid medications if prescribed properly for a legitimate purpose.

Jim Moser said it was frustrating to learn of the DEA’s distribution statistics and how no action was taken to stem the flow of opiate painkillers into communities, let alone warning patients of their addictive nature.

″(The DEA had) this information available and it wasn’t used. Would my son be alive today if it was? He very well could be,” Moser said. “It wouldn’t be a productive conversation to have because (pharmaceutical companies and distributors) know it was all driven by finances; the pace for consumption did not come remotely close to aligning with the actual need of patients.”

Originally published via by Alex LaCasse on August 17, 2019.

Manchester Pathways Clubhouse was recently Honored with Two Highly-Competitive Grant Awards

Manchester Pathways Clubhouse was recently Honored with Two Highly-Competitive Grant Awards

Manchester Pathways Clubhouse was recently honored with two highly-competitive grant awards:

Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation – capital funds award of $25,000 for lease costs at our new location on 303 Belmont St, Manchester

Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation – $20,000 to support staffing costs We are grateful for this vital community support to advance the Manchester Pathways Clubhouse mental health and co-occurring substance use disorder recovery program.

Thank you to the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation and the Norwin S and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation!

Safe Harbor Fundraising Event A Great Success – August 7, 2017

Safe Harbor Fundraising Event A Great Success – August 7, 2017

On Monday August 7th over 400 people gathered for the second annual Hungry for Hope event, a benefit for Granite Pathways’ Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, NH. The event raised over $70,000 – more than double the amount raised at the first Hungry for Hope dinner last year.

Twenty local restaurants provided food, beer and wine to the guests, who mingled under tents at the harborside location, with sweeping views of the Piscataqua River. All of the food and beverages were donated, raising additional funds in addition to the ticket sales and spontaneous donations that were made throughout the evening. James Boyle, owner of Toyota of Portsmouth donated a minivan, for staff to use to provide transportation to individuals using Safe Harbor services.

The event was organized by two dedicated proponents of recovery and strong supporters of Safe Harbor, philanthropist and developer Renee Plummer and John Akar, co-owner of Cava Tapas and Wine Bar.

Safe Harbor, a peer-led recovery center, has received widespread support from all segments of the Portsmouth community since opening its doors last year. New Hampshire has the nation’s second highest per capita death rate from opioid overdose – a crisis that has touched almost everyone in the state.

Elizabeth Miller, Safe Harbor Director, said that the center has grown rapidly, training recovery coaches, implementing programs to support all pathways to recovery, and building bridges to local service providers including first responders, police, hospitals and the prison systems, as well as other recovery centers and support services. Safe Harbor staff are developing work readiness training programs, and reaching out to area businesses to provide job opportunities to people in recovery.

“It is amazing how this community has rallied and is so supportive of each other,” Elizabeth said. “It is overwhelming to see this level of caring and support.”

Granite Pathways Solution Series: Addressing Employee Mental Health and Addiction – December 7, 2016

Granite Pathways Solution Series: Addressing Employee Mental Health and Addiction – December 7, 2016

On December 7th Granite Pathways hosted the first Solution Series outside of New York City. The event, Addressing Employee Mental Health and Addiction: Improving Your Business Bottom Line, had special importance for the near-capacity crowd at the Red River Theatre in Concord, New Hampshire, as the state is among the hardest hit by the national epidemic of opioid abuse. The mission of Granite Pathways, part of the Fedcap family of companies, is to support individuals with mental illness and addiction in building personal equity and achieve their life goals as valued members of their communities.

The Solution Series panelists – Chris Placy, Executive Vice President of Substance Free Workplace; Robert Roy, Environmental Health and Safety Manager of Newington’s TE Connectivity Subcom; and John Burns, Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships for Public Health at Goodwin Community Health – are widely known and respected in New Hampshire for their efforts on behalf of individuals in recovery. They emphasized the need for a comprehensive strategy for businesses to address mental illness and substance abuse through a system geared toward prevention, intervention, and employee retention through long-term recovery support.

“Business has a tremendous role to play in long-term recovery,” said Chris Placy. “The workplace is the one place where people with mental health and substance issues intersect. The workplace can serve as a powerful catalyst for addressing these issues.”

Robert Roy emphasized the need for businesses to create a culture of caring and compassion so that individuals know where to go for help without fear of being stigmatized. He said that a culture of caring means educating employees about the benefits of an employee assistance program, making services accessible, and ensuring that supervisors know what to look for when they see a co-worker whose behavior could i9ndicate an issue with substance misuse.

When a member of John Burns’ family was struggling with serious mental health issues, he at first hid it from his employer, for fear of being stigmatized. When he finally did confide in his supervisor, he was met with compassion and support. Beyond the relief of being able to care for his family member, the supervisor’s response made Mr. Burns feel even more loyal to his employer.

The event was attended by business representatives from throughout New Hampshire, as well as advocates, community based providers, representatives from DHHS and consumers.

The Solution Series are designed to explore topics of critical importance to Fedcap’s business partners and extended community of stakeholders, including the individuals we serve. To date Fedcap has hosted thirteen Solution Series in New York City, and is pleased to extend these important events to New Hampshire.

Safe Harbor Recovery Center Grand Opening – July 12, 2016

Safe Harbor Recovery Center Grand Opening – July 12, 2016

On July 12th, over 150 people joined in the celebration of the grand opening of Safe Harbor -a recovery center located at 865 Islington Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The effort – the culmination of the hard work and commitment of many community members and staff – was spearheaded by Sandi Coyle, who serves as Executive Director of Granite Pathways and the Director of Recovery Services for Fedcap.

“The opening of the center was a dream for this community, and it opened because of the contributions of so many people in this room today. We will honor the memories of those who left us too soon due to overdose, and we will work to be a supportive force for those who are in recovery,” said Sandi during her opening comments.

Representatives of New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, and U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, were on hand to read letters of congratulations, as was Portsmouth Mayor Jack Blalock and Police Commissioner Joe Plaia. Other guests included Bob Fawls, a member of the New England Committee of the Fedcap board, and colleagues from Health and Human Services, advocates, First Responders from the police and fire departments, community providers and donors. Other supporters of Safe Harbor who were in attendance included Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, Rep. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, and Rep. Tim Horrigan, D-Durham.

Also in attendance were family members and a large number of individuals in recovery who will use the center as their “safe place.” Safe Harbor – the first and only provider of peer-driven recovery support services in the Seacoast area – provides a range of recovery-oriented activities that are grounded by recovery coaches, people with lived experience of addiction and recovery. They are helping individuals in recovery and family members to create a community of people working to reduce the stigma of addiction within the broader community. The center offers multiple pathways to recovery including Twelve Step Recovery support; meditation and yoga; onsite recovery coaches; support groups, SMART recovery, and family support meetings

The support of Fedcap, with an 80-year history of helping people overcome barriers, will provide additional benefits to the Safe Harbor Community. “Fedcap brings expertise in vocational training, professional development and resource referral to the center,” Sandi said. “The financial strength and diverse programming of Safe Harbor demonstrates to our community partners that Fedcap is an organization with substance, resiliency and innovation.”

There is still much work to be done. New Hampshire has the highest per capita death rate from drug overdose in the country, and many communities in the state still do how have adequate access to detox and treatment. This is starting to change – on July 13th, the Governor and Council of the State of New Hampshire approved a $1.2MM contract for Granite Pathways to establish Regional Access points throughout the state –helping individuals struggling with addiction find the resources and services they need.

John Burns, Director of Safe harbor Recovery Center, described in closing remarks how important the opening of the center is to New Hampshire’s Seacoast Community, and what it means for those seeking recovery services.

“Families and individuals in recovery feel safe and supported when they’re part of a like-minded community. They feel empowered to break silence of their own story.”