With each passing year, the drug epidemic in the United States grows increasingly more clear. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. 52,404 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2015. The vast majority of these deaths were opioid-related. While every state in the country struggles with this crisis, New Hampshire is one of five states impacted most severely. In New Hampshire alone, statistics show that one person dies from an opioid-related overdose every single day.
Georgie Rooney '18 is currently the Meelia Center's student coordinator for Hope for NH Recovery- a program working to help people overcome addiction. The program emphasizes the fact that addiction is a disease above all other things. Those experiencing any kind of addiction are often viewed as "bad people." They may be called lazy or selfish. Some may even be labeled as a criminal. In reality, those experiencing addiction are suffering from a tragic illness. In an interview with Rooney, she explains the purpose and mission of Hope for NH Recovery and shares her experience volunteering for the program.
What is the goal of Hope for NH Recovery? The goal is to work towards solving addiction through offering free peer support to all those going through the recovery process at any stage.
What is your role in the program? What is the role of your volunteers? The role of both myself and the volunteers is to facilitate groups. We offer a nutrition group, a writing group, and a self care group. Anyone is welcome to come and it is not required for them to continuously come. We often have members who will stop in every now and then depending on their schedule.
What has been the most rewarding thing about serving at Hope for NH Recovery? What has been your greatest challenge? The most rewarding thing has been talking with these people and learning of their struggles and how far they have come. It is really neat to see individuals filled with so much hope in the face of an epidemic. The greatest challenge that I’ve encountered would be breaking the boundaries between the volunteers and the group members. Often we’ll be asked why we’re there and volunteering if we have never faced addiction. More often than not the group members are open and accepting after we disclose our role and purpose.
What is your "hope" for the future of NH in regards to this crisis? My hope would be that this organization reaches its goal of not only alleviating the current epidemic, but also changing the stigma around what a substance use disorder entails. It would be ideal if people suffering from any sort of substance use disorder, not just opioids, receive effective treatment and that this disorder is something that fades out through increased awareness and attacking the root cause.
It is unimaginable to think of where these dreadful statistics may be without the help of addiction recovery programs. Hope for NH Recovery saves lives and the dedication of the staff and volunteers is incredible. However, the story of addiction becomes recursive for everyone involved after years of enduring this national epidemic.
What is the "root cause"? Why are so many people experiencing problems with addiction? Particularly, opioid addiction? Many opioids are prescribed legally by doctors. Big names in the pharmaceutical industry claim these drugs are safe and effective. The more these drugs are prescribed, the more money the industry made. It is not uncommon that someone is prescribed painkillers because of an injury, and later becomes addicted. This addiction may lead to abusing the medicine, using different substances like heroin, and perhaps overdosing and dying.
After the fact, the nation is waking up to the reality that these drugs are highly addictive and dangerous. Concerned victims, family members, friends, citizens, and politicians have begun speaking up against the pharmaceutical industry's wrongdoing. However, there is still so much more to be done both throughout the nation and here in New Hampshire. Consider getting involved with Hope for NH Recovery to help those currently suffering. In addition, figure out who your local representatives are and where they stand on New Hampshire's drug epidemic. Until everyone comes together to destroy the stigma of addiction and tackle the root cause, the statistics of those suffering will only increase.