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Group Seeks Support For Recovered Addicts In Hudson Falls

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  The fight against heroin has led to a spike in headline-grabbing overdose deaths and police activity. But it also means there are more recovering addicts in need of long-term support. Now, a community group in Warren and Washington Counties is hoping to make a difference. 

Organizers with the grassroots Hometown vs. Heroin & Addiction Coalition group are hoping to locate a new facility in Hudson Falls that would provide support to addicts in long-term recovery and their families. Pastor Paul Mead of the Gospel Lighthouse Church said the group is in the planning stages of establishing a community space at the church. The church itself is not affiliated with the group.

“We would possibly have on-site job coaching and resume writing to help those in recovery and their families who are without employment become more employable. We would possibly hold various exercise, nutritional classes to help people discover various ways to live. We would possibly have a finance class for those struggling with debt to help manage money in a helpful way,” said Mead.

In addition to hosting Alcoholics Anonymous and other discussion programs, Mead is also hoping the center could host movie nights, open mic-nights, and other community events to bring all members of the community together.

Mead said in recent days he’s received comments from neighbors concerned about the plan.

“Somehow, this message, it got off-centered when it began to speak about a treatment center for heroin addicts. And suddenly, I think fear took over in some of our neighbors, and I understand that. However, that wasn’t the case.”

Mead insists the facility will not be designed to supply medication or offer services to those currently using drugs.

“We are not here to provide support, job training, and activities for people who are using drugs, only non-users. We are not interested in being a treatment center, and we want to make that very clear,” said Mead.

David Saffer, Executive Director of the Hudson Falls-based Council for Prevention, said while there are places where addicts can find treatment, programs for those already on the path to recovery are hard to come by in the region.

“We also have very few resources in our area for our recovering population, not just of heroin and opioids, but alcholol, marijuana, whatever; recovering from addiction. And  so we are looking into a multiple form of attacking the issues and the needs in our community,” said Saffer.

The Warren and Washington County region, near New York’s border with Vermont, is similar to many areas of the country in seeing a rise in drug-related arrests in recent years, and local law enforcement has cracked down on drugs being brought through the region into Vermont, where Governor Shumlin declared it an epidemic.

To wit: Vermont state police sized 1,100 bags of heroin in a single traffic stop on January 26th.

But as important as enforcement is, Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan, speaking to WAMC in July, says community efforts to deal with addiction are also vital.

“It is extraordinarily difficult to deal with, and so that’s why we’re trying to address the problem on that side as well. Treat the dealers one way, but the dealers need a different level of service,” said Jordan.

The Hometown vs. Heroin & Addiction Coalition will host its next meeting February 9th . For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/hometownvsheroinandaddiction?ref=br_tf

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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