The Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire’s motto for substance abuse recovery is “the only way is to get away.”
The center’s Antrim House, a stately building located along Main Street, will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 26 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. It will open its doors to new residents on Tuesday, Jan. 31. at which point residents will be able to get away from their current circumstances and focus on treatment.
Executive Director Theresa McCafferty said the house is a fully licensed operation through the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Once the facility is up-and-running, there will be about 20 beds designed specifically for women who have a history with substance abuse.
“There are very few beds for women,” McCafferty said about the current state of substance abuse treatment facilities.
That’s problematic, she said, for a state that is in the midst of an substance abuse public health crisis.
“We need beds, so we are very excited to be opening,” McCafferty said.
According to statistics collected by the DHHS, of residents who are 12 and older, 106,000 individuals meet criteria for dependence or abuse of illicit drugs or alcohol.
Lindy Keller, resources and development administrator for the NH Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, said although there are many people who meet the substance abuse criteria, not all need facility care, which is the highest level of treatment. That means comparing the number of beds across the state to the number of people who are struggling with substance-abuse problems is not necessarily an accurate representation of the level of need for such facilities.
That being said most residential treatment facilities in the state do have waiting lists, Keller said.
“There is an indication of need for these type of treatment facilities,” Keller said.
The Antrim House will have short and long term programs, with treatment lengths that will be carried out on a case-by-case basis depending on need and the patient’s insurance policy. McCafferty said the short-term program will run about 21 to 28 days while the long-term program will span about 90 days. The house will employ about 11 full time and three part-time staff to help those on their path to recovery.
Chair of the select board John Robertson said he is pleased to see the house open its doors after years of the space sitting idle.
“I think it’s good for the town of Antrim,” Robertson said. “With all the drug problems going on, I think it’s really going to help.”
He said substance-abuse problems are widespread and have affected Antrim.
“Talk to the police chiefs or any of the officers in town and they will tell you that it’s an issue,” he said about substance-abuse problems.
As an added bonus to the critical service it’s providing, Robertson said, the opening of the facility also brings another business to town.
The house has sat vacant since the Antrim Girls Shelter and School owned by Massachusetts-based Lutheran Social Services went out of business in 2011. The shelter folded after the state dropped the number of referrals it was issuing to the facility in a bid to promote natural placements of juveniles within their own families instead of at residential facilities.
Keller said while adding treatment facilities is a good they are just one part of tackling substance abuse issues on a widespread scale.
“We really need a full continuum of care across multiple levels of care to meet all needs,” Keller said.