Counseling Services Tackles Opioid Addiction
When heroin invades a home, havoc follows. Just ask Lynn Fuller. The Farmington mother of two adult sons described their addictions as a “wrecking ball” that tore through their family.
One of the hardest things she did was to put one son out of the house, then see him living homeless in the park across the street.
“I went over every day and said, ‘I love you. How can I help you? Are you ready for treatment today?'” Fuller said. He asked for money.
“I said, ‘I got nothing. I got a broken heart,'” Fuller told nearly 50 people at a Catholic Charities New Hampshire program on how opioid addiction affects the entire family.
Fuller didn’t give in. She set boundaries. Five years later, both sons are in long-term recovery. Her family is on the mend.
“This works,” Fuller said of Catholic Charities counseling team’s presentation on how to effectively respond to a loved one’s addiction.
“Prayers are answered. Families do heal. There is hope,” Fuller added. She also credited drug court and treatment for her sons’ recovery.
Thanks to donors like you, Catholic Charities is bringing its healing mission and message of hope to families impacted by New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic – which is projected to claim a record 470 lives in overdoses in 2016 alone.
The death toll was climbing at a rate of more than one a day when Catholic Charities’ clinical staff began searching for a response to the crisis.
The result is an innovative initiative to educate, heal and further Catholic Charities’ mission to move lives forward by going directly into communities throughout the state.
“Addiction affects the whole family. We couldn’t wait any longer given the scope of the problem in New Hampshire,” explained the Rev. John J. Mahoney Jr., who is director of clinical services at Catholic Charities. He is also a licensed clinical mental health counselor.
Mahoney and a team of three clinicians skilled in addiction counseling launched the Families Coping with the Opioid Crisis presentations at parishes in Rochester, Epping and Manchester late last year.
In taking the presentations on the road, they hope to also remove the stigma often associated with addiction, Mahoney said. Embarrassment – even shame – can keep families whose loved ones struggle with addiction from getting help – whether through counseling or joining a family support group.
“Walking into a family support group is just about the hardest walk a parent can make – short of walking into a morgue,” said Susan McKeown, a registered nurse practitioner and certified prevention specialist. McKeown co-founded Families Advocating for Substance Abuse Treatment, Education & Recovery (FASTER) in Manchester. She and Fuller, who co-founded Circle of Hope family support group in Farmington, participate in the Catholic Charities presentations.
Relying on the medical model of addiction counseling, the counselors explain how opioid addiction is a neurological disorder that hijacks the brain’s normal reward pathways. They discuss signs of opioid use, enabling behavior, and how to communicate and set boundaries with a loved one struggling with addiction.
Demand for the program is on the rise.
Catholic Charities counselors will present another session at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Merrimack from 6:30-8 p.m. on Feb. 27. Others are planned for early spring in Portsmouth, Upper Valley and North Country – all regions that have seen high rates of opioid addiction.
The presentation is free and open to anyone regardless of faith.
Helping Immigrants Become Citizens
Achieving citizenship is a goal for many foreign citizens who come to the United States with the dream of building a life here. Reaching that goal, however, can be confusing.
Lan Truong, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975, knows the feeling.
She and her husband, who relocated to Manchester shortly after arriving in the U.S., were naturalized in 1981. They were able to complete the application process and pass the required testing for citizenship, but they had little support in their quest.
“There were no services for immigrants except for ESL (English as a Second Language) classes,” Truong said. “We had to muddle our way through.”
Today, Truong works for Catholic Charities’ Office of Immigration and Refugee Services.
Thanks, in part, to donors like you, Truong and her colleagues help documented immigrants navigate the process toward citizenship.
“Our service is much needed,” said Truong, who has been with Catholic Charities for 25 years and is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to represent immigrants in hearings with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Last fall, Catholic Charities helped launch the Manchester Citizenship Center – a pilot project that provides documented immigrants with accredited legal help at free clinics.
Funded by a grant from the Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation, the Manchester Citizenship Center is a collaborative effort involving Catholic Charities and the International Institute of New England-Manchester. The program is being offered through Welcoming Manchester, a consortium of non-profit organizations that helps immigrants integrate into the general community.
The Manchester Citizenship Center opened its doors last October. The free clinics are held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays at the International Institute of New England-Manchester, 1850 Elm St., Manchester. Future clinics will be held Feb. 25, March 25, April 29 and May 20. Pre-registration is required.
“Our goal is to reduce barriers and make it easy for anyone to get help,” said Cathy Chesley, director of Catholic Charities’ Office of Immigration and Refugee Services. “We hold the sessions on the weekends so they don’t interfere with work.”
Becoming a citizen is a critical step toward integrating new Americans into society, Chesley said. Citizenship moves lives forward and builds stronger families and communities, she explained.
The one-hour workshops are intended for those who can speak, read and write English and are prepared to pass the civics test required by U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services. An attorney assists immigrants in preparing their applications.
“They know enough about citizenship to want to go for it, but they sometimes don’t know how,” Chesley said.
A Catholic Charities attorney and other members of its legal staff assist at the clinics as does a representative from the International Institute of New England-Manchester.
Chesley said immigrants generally learn about the free workshops by word of mouth. She hopes the center will help 40 immigrants this year.
Truong said it wasn’t until she became familiar with Catholic Charities and read its literature on the refugee experience that she was able to understand some of the stress she dealt with in adapting to a new country.
“It helped me heal,” Truong explains.
Now she tries to ease that stress for others. “I love getting up every morning to come here because it is so rewarding,” she said.
Mt. Carmel Opens New Entrance
Other centers slated for upgrades in 2017
Seeing blue? The raised awning in front of Mt. Carmel Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is subtly lit in cobalt blue – creating a sense of safety, beauty and serenity at the Manchester site.
It is part of the new portico that stands at the entrance to the 235 Myrtle St. facility. Fresh landscaping enhances the front lawn and the semi-circular driveway that passes beneath the portico.
“It gives visitors and residents an area that is protected from the elements so they can be dropped off right at the entrance,” Mt. Carmel administrator Joe Bohunicky said.
Construction on the new entrance began in September. It formally opened the week before Thanksgiving. The final touch will be to rim the driveway with ground lights.
This year will see major renovations undertaken at Warde Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Windham and St. Francis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Laconia, said Michael Takesian, assistant vice-president of Healthcare Services at Catholic Charities.
Both expansion projects are slated to begin by early spring and will enhance current services and improve the layout of the buildings, he explained.
In addition, a wing at St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Dover is undergoing renovation and refurbishment. That work should be done by spring.
Who’s Ready for Mardi Gras?
Catholic Charities is bringing back a taste of New Orleans as we host the 12th Annual Mardi Gras Gala on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Grappone Center in Concord.
Thanks to your support, the annual gala is more than just a great night out – it supports services for 1 in 13 people in need. The Mardi Gras Gala, which includes silent and live auctions, raised more than $100,000 last year to support programs that move lives forward.
To find out how you can help make a difference, contact Rosemary Hendrickx at 603-663-0249