Source: Scituate Mariner By: Ruth Thompson
SCITUATE - It is a common enough scenario—police respond to an emergency and upon arriving at the scene realize that drugs or alcohol were involved. The intoxicated person, or someone who may have overdosed but is still alive, would be brought to the emergency room at the nearest hospital and turned over to the care of the medical staff.
That could have been the end of the involvement for law enforcement, but for Scituate police, there is one more thing—they can ask the family if they are interested in speaking to someone who can discuss treatment options. The police officer can now initiate a Recovery Coach referral with a phone call to Annmarie Galvin, co-chair of the Scituate FACTS (Families, Adolescents, and Communities Together against Substances) Coalition.
“I would then contact John Kimmett, a retired substance abuse counselor who is volunteering as a peer support specialist and recovery coach,” Galvin said. “He speaks directly with the individual, their loved ones, or everyone involved to make a plan. Together they determine if John should go immediately to the hospital, or meet with the person and their family the next day to discuss treatment.”
In the past, Galvin said the police might mention something about treatment and hand the person a Scituate FACTS resource brochure. While some referral help is available in the emergency room, it is not often adequate enough to complete a placement in detox, so many patients are simply discharged.
“You need someone to help you and motivate you,” she said. “Someone who has been through it themselves is the most appropriate person to have this conversation.”
Timing is also crucial.
Galvin and Kimmett both said it is important to act quickly when someone is saying they are interested in seeking treatment before they change their minds.
“Gosnold has been extremely supportive,” Kimmett said of the addiction treatment center on Cape Cod. “We call them and they can produce a bed.”
Scituate Police Chief Michael Stewart said the follow-up counseling program “has been very well received and we are happy with the initial success.”
“The program deals with more than just follow ups to overdose victims and families,” he said. “We have used it successfully in dealing with families looking for assistance with interventions, as well as users who request assistance on their own.”
Of the seven police referrals since March, when the partnership with the Scituate Police Department began, two people have arranged their own treatment, one declined treatment but has met with Kimmett privately, and four went directly to Gosnold within hours of the police referral.
Galvin, Stewart and Kimmett all said the program wouldn’t work without the partnership of the Scituate police and Gosnold.
“We’d like to be able to do this with more towns and more police departments,” Galvin said.
As for Gosnold, Galvin said, “it’s nice they are accepting all of our referrals, but we’re also proud to partner with them because they believe in the full continuum of care and recovery support post treatment.”
“We share the same philosophy of recovery management—it doesn’t end when your formal treatment ends,” she said.
South Shore Peer Recovery Initiative
Recovery is also the focus of a new charitable organization of which Galvin and Kimmett, both of Scituate, along with another Scituate resident, Maureen Barry, and Lauren Payne of Pembroke, are founding board members. That new group is the South Shore Peer Recovery Initiative (SSPRI).
“The SSPRI evolved from the Scituate FACTS Coalition and is open to everybody,” Galvin said. “We realized in our four years we can’t just talk about prevention. We’ve learned to ask, as our coalition has evolved, what about after treatment?”
The initiative envisions a world where the joys, hope, and healing of recovery, body, mind and spirit is nurtured with understanding, support, and common purpose.
“We spend so much time talking about the consequences of addition, but fail to recognize that most people do recover,” Galvin said. “We need to celebrate recovery so people know it’s happening.”
Kimmett and Barry, who are both in long-term recovery, are instrumental in helping get people into treatment, and are then following up with them.
Several other group members have trained with the Recovery Coaching Academy, which offers a full week of training for people in long-term recovery who are interested in being coaches, Galvin said.
“People have always been looking for help,” Barry said. “They just didn’t always know where to get it.”
Families and community
One of the main goals of the new organization is to provide recovery support services for families as well as individuals.
“It is critical for the family and loved ones of someone suffering with addiction to be involved in the recovery process,” Kimmett said. “Addiction affects the whole family.”
“It’s really hard to recover when the family isn’t supportive,” Barry added. “And it is important that the families feel supported and that they know they are not alone.”
The new family support meeting in Scituate offered by Gosnold, is part of this master plan of engaging and supporting the family throughout the process. Meetings begin at 11 a.m. Sundays at the Scituate Senior Center, 27 Brook Street.
Heroin use affects many different dynamics of a person’s life from family, to work, to marriages and children, Stewart said.
“Families need to know what help is out there for them and how to access it,” he said. “It is nice that now we have a system in place which gives the responding officers additional options and means of helping, other than shipping the victim off to a hospital and having no further contact until something bad happens again.”
Kimmett recalled something said by William White, who played a big part in The Anonymous People, a feature documentary about the over 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction.
“He said recovery doesn’t happen in treatment,” Kimmett said. “Recovery is initiated in treatment, but recovery happens in the community. We’re trying to build a community that will embrace people and help them reconnect to society. This shame-based disease cuts people from the herd.”
The importance of recovery is becoming part of the conversation now, Galvin said.
“We want a recovery community center,” she said.
A recovery community center is a recovery-oriented sanctuary anchored in the heart of the community where people still struggling with addiction can receive help in navigating the systems and services to get them the help they need. It is also a place where people can actively work on their recovery, or help others and recovery community organizations carry out their programs and activities, through a structured schedule of recovery-related workshops, trainings, meetings, services, and sober social events.
They are not treatment agencies because clinical services are not offered, and they are not 12-step clubhouses or drop-in centers.
There are currently nine recovery community centers in Massachusetts, Galvin said.
“The beauty of the recovery center is the people, the peers, who have wisdom gained from their lived experience,” Kimmett said. “And they offer a compassionate ear because they understand what it is like.”
While it doesn’t really matter where the center is located, Galvin said Scituate is “kind of central to the crescent of the South Shore communities we wish to serve.”
A priority is funding.
“We’re filing for tax-exempt status this month, accepting donations, and we are interested in foundation support,” Galvin said. “We’ll be going for grants through the Department of Public Health when available. Most importantly, we welcome participation from believers in recovery, from all towns, starting now.”
For more information on the South Shore Peer Recovery Initiative visit www.southshorepeerrecovery.org or on Facebook under