February 2018
SOS Membership Meeting
All members are encouraged to attend the SOS Membership meeting being held Tuesday, February 19th from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Rochester SOS Recovery Community Center, located at   64 S.Main St. in Rochester.
SOS Receives Townsquare Media Year of Service Award
Many thanks to Townsquare Media who has named SOS Recovery Community Organization a 2019 Year of Service partner. As a Year of Service partner, Townsquare Media will provide SOS with a three month public service announcement campaign on WOKQ, The Shark, WHOM and the Peak.  From left to right are Christine Sieks, vice president of Townsquare Media New Hampshire; Rene Philpott, SOS marketing and outreach coordinator; Joe Hannon, president of the SOS Advisory Board; Kira Lew, co-host of the Big Breakfast Morning Show on WOKQ; and Brian Lang, regional marketing president of Townsquare Media.
SOS Files Lawsuit Against City of Rochester
SOS Recovery Community Organization (SOS RCO) and First Church Congregational, United Church of Christ of Rochester (FCC) recently filed a complaint with the Strafford County Superior Court seeking declaratory relief from discriminatory enforcement, citing violation of free exercise of religion and seeking permanent injunctive relief from the courts.
According to John Burns, director of SOS RCO, in December 2018, the City of Rochester unexpectedly filed a Land Use Citation in the 7th Circuit Court - Rochester District Division seeking a civil penalty against SOS in the amount of $23,650.00, dating back to a cease-and-desist order issued to SOS on September 26, 2018.  The land-use citation and underlying cease-and-desist order relate to the City’s claim that SOS changed the use of the Church property and therefore must submit to the city’s site plan review process.  The cease-and-desist order followed only days after a citizen petition was brought forward to the City Council by several nearby residents requesting that the city re-locate SOS’s programs.
 SOS has used the Church since 2016 and even receives a grant from the city to carry out its programs.  Due to the city’s unwavering position concerning SOS’s use of the Church, Burns said SOS and FCC were forced to take legal action to protect their legal rights.
 “Rochester is in great need of the services we provide and SOS has been committed to trying to work with the city to maintain these services, says Burns. “We had over 10,000 visits to our Dover and Rochester Centers in 2018.”
SOS maintains the position that the complaint being filed is based on discriminatory enforcement.
“We are a small program trying to save lives.  The organization has limited resources and would much rather spend time and resources on programs and services, but we have been left with no choice but to take legal action so that we can continue to serve the people of Rochester,” says Burns.  “We have received tremendous support from the majority of city council members in Rochester and we are thoroughly confused why the City Attorney, zoning, and code enforcement are engaged in this discriminatory campaign against SOS.” 
SOS was invited in 2016 to share space in First Church Congregational as a community collaboration to help fulfill the mission of the church while simultaneously fulfilling the SOS mission.  Burns says the partnership has been a success in that the City of Rochester has had a 28% reduction in overdose calls in 2018 versus 2017, as well as a 40% drop in overdose deaths. 
First Church Congregational, the oldest church in the City of Rochester, has a long history of partnering with local organizations in order to serve the community. First Church has housed the day option of the Homeless Shelter of Strafford County; Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other anonymous recovery groups; Dover Adult Learning Center, Seacoast Youth Services, and dozens of other organizations.
“In accordance with our faith, for decades it has been the mission of the church to use our time, talent and treasure to feed the hungry, shelter the unsheltered, and care for the marginalized. In order to be truly helpful to these communities, we have partnered with those who have expertise, as SOS does in serving the recovery community, so as to provide the best care possible,” says Pastor Eliza Tweedy of First Church Congregational. “It is concerning that the City has singled out SOS for zoning and coding compliance while many of the other services we have partnered with that operate with similar services out of our building, or similar services in other churches in the city, have not had to meet the same enforcement demands.  It seems to speak to the need for the very care that First Church has always strived to bring to this community, as well as to the stigma reduction that SOS is trying to effect here in Rochester.
“Partnerships have enriched the ministry of First Church and enhanced our understandings of faith, God, and of our worshiping life; in turn, we seek to provide a sense of beloved community to our neighbors, to create a space in which the dignity and worth of every individual is upheld,” Tweedy continues. “All of the ministry we do on our own or with our partners is to fulfill our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  First Church feels the city is infringing on our freedom to exercise our religion by serving the most vulnerable communities through this important partnership.”
Burn says he believes SOS is being singled out unfairly and discriminatorily. He says one out of every three families in the United States, including cities like Rochester, are impacted by substance use disorder. As one of the pillars of the SOS mission is to reduce stigma that surrounds substance use disorder, Burns says the organization can no longer sit idle and allow stigma to dictate whether it provides life-saving programs and services.
 “Recovery has brought so many of us the gift of being contributing members of society, reuniting our families and being of service to the community.  We have faced prejudice and been discarded as ‘less than’ but this is not the truth.  SOS is here to provide hope to those who still seek recovery, says Burns.  “It is shameful that while our members rely on our services, the adversarial actions of the City of Rochester have left them shaken and mistrustful in a time where they need the foundation and security of our programs and services.  SOS has been left no choice but to join with First Church Congregational to be a voice for those that may not otherwise have one, and to do everything we can to empower the individuals and families we serve.”
               Michele Gagne                                                 Jason Brann
SOS Welcomes Two New Staff Members
SOS Recovery Community Organization is pleased to announce the addition of Michelle Gagne and Jason Brann to its employee team.

Gagne, who is a second year Masters of Social Work student at the University of NH, will serve as the Family Recovery Support Coordinator with SOS. She and her husband of 11 years have four children.

“I became interested in SOS as there is a history of substance use disorder in my family and I want to help break the stigma that people have about it,” says Michelle, who recently completed Recovery Coach Academy. “Also, I am passionate about finding the things that people are good at and helping them to use those talents to be successful.”

Brann, who has also competed Recovery Coach Academy, joins SOS as a recovery support coordinator. Currently, working toward becoming a Certified Recovery Support Worker, he became interested in a career in the recovery field having been formerly married to someone who struggled with substance use disorder.

“I saw first-hand how it (SUD) tore my family apart,” says Brann. “It surrounds us every day. I couldn’t help my former wife, but working here, I can help others.  It’s a good feeling being able to help people and give back to individuals and my community.”

Brann is also a member of Second Chance Soldiers, a motorcycle organization that supports community members in recovery through community mentoring, positive role modeling and brotherhood.
Volunteer Spotlight
SOS Recovery Community Organization is just such a great model for people looking for recovery or looking to maintain their recovery,” says Tyler Lunday. “It’s a place of safety and recovery.”

Lunday who started his recovery journey in Manchester at Hope for Recovery, says he was happy to find another recovery community center when he moved to the Dover area.

“Considering the (opioid) crisis we have, just having this place be here for anyone who has a desire for recovery 
is monumental in itself,” says Tyler.  “It’s a war zone for anyone out there, as addiction does not discriminate. So, I come here where it is safe.”

As a direct result of his own drug use, Tyler, who is now a volunteer for SOS, says he ended up in prison.

“My addiction was fueled by past trauma and hurt so I used drugs to numb those feelings. They were fun in the beginning, but then they lost their fun factor,” says Tyler.

After being paroled out of prison in Manchester, Tyler says he went right back to using drugs.

“My addiction skyrocketed,” says Tyler. “But I finally realized I needed help and got involved in Drug Court in Hillsboro Country and became willing to do anything I could to get the help I needed.”

Tyler says coming to SOS in Dover on a regular basis has helped him to realize that he does deserve a second chance at living a good life and SOS has given him the motivation to do that by becoming a part of the recovery community.

“The staff here has been super helpful. They welcomed me without judgment and helped me to find my own recovery bases around this area,” says Tyler. “I chose to volunteer at SOS because I want to give back.  It’s a place where I can provide people with the same help that I have needed in the past and show them that there is hope and different tools and pathways available here that they may need to find recovery.”

Tyler says while he may not have all the answers, he can lead by example.

“It’s rough out there. I see people coming in here off the streets and feel for them as that was me at one point, so I can relate to them.” says Tyler. “There’s that old saying ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ I know I can’t make people stop drinking or doing drugs, but I can be here when they are ready.”
Thank you to members of Dover Youth 2 Youth for or a wonderful gift of art supplies for our Art in Recovery program! Dover Youth 2 Youth is an after school, drug prevention program coordinated by the Dover Police Department Community Outreach Bureau. Th program is open to students in the 6th - 12th grade in local schools in Dover. "We have a bright future with youth like this is out communities." says John Burns, director of SOS RCO.
Reducing Stigma - Language Matters
“Sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Even chanting these words as children, most of us knew that this saying was not true – that indeed, words can and do hurt and they can create stigma.

“Words and language do matter,” says John Burns, director of SOS Recovery Community Organization.  “Stigma remains the biggest barrier to treatment for substance use disorder and the language we use contributes to that stigma.”

Reducing the stigma associated with addictive disorders is part of the mission of SOS RCO and one of the ways this can be done is to change the words and language we use to talk about addiction.

On January 9, 2017, the White House released a memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. entitled “Changing Federal Terminology Regarding Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders. The memo also included a document entitled “Changing the Language of Addiction” 
 and explained that changes in language are important as research shows that people with substance use disorders are viewed more negatively than people with physical or psychiatric disabilities because of the language use to describe them.    

“Substance use disorder (the most severe form of which is referred to as “addiction”) is a chronic brain disorder from which people can and do recover. Nonetheless, sometimes the terminology used in the discussion of substance use can suggest that problematic use of substances and substance use disorders are the result of a personal failing; that people choose the disorder, or they lack the willpower or character to control their substance use,” it is stated in the document. “However, research shows addictive substances can lead to dramatic changes in brain function and reduce a person’s ability to control his or her substance use, and that repeated use of these substances alters brain chemistry and the function of brain circuitry to create a neurobiological disorder.”

“One way to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder is to recognize that it is a disease just like cancer or diabetes,” says Burns. “We wouldn’t say a person with cancer is dirty and refer to them as clean if they are in remission, but those are words used to describe the status of people with substance use disorder. “

Today, using first person language is the accepted standard for discussing people with disabilities or chronic medical conditions. Research shows that use of the terms “abuse” and “abuser” negatively affects perceptions and judgement about people with substance use disorder. Terms such as “addict” and alcoholic” can have similar effects. Therefore, the term person with a substance use disorder is preferred.

“By changing the language that perpetuates stigma around substance use disorder, we are helping to eliminate a barrier for those seeking help and in essence are saving lives,” says Burns.
According to a January 2019 Report of the NH Drug Monitoring Initative:
  • As of Jan. 16, 2019, there are 373 total confirmed drug overdose deaths  and 77 cases pending toxicology for 2018 in NH.
  • The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in NH has increased its projection from 427 to 450 drug overdose deaths for 2018.
  • For 2018, so far, Belknap County has the highest suspected drug use resulting in overdose deaths per capita at 4.58 deaths per 10,000 population. Strafford County is the fourth highest with 2.92 deaths per 10,000 population. Strafford County was the second highest the previous year with 3.43 deaths per 10,000 population. 
  • The age group with the largest number of drug overdose deaths is 30-39 years, which represents 31 percent of all overdose deaths for 2018.
To make a donation to SOS, please click here.
Special Trainings, Activities, Programs and Meetings
Feb. 22nd & 23rd - SOS Developing Excellence in Recovery Coaching. 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at SOS Rochester, 63 S. Main St. For more information or to register, click here.

MLADC Supervision
To assist Peer Recovery Coaches in meeting CRSW requirements, SOS RCO contracts with John Iudice, LICSW, MLADC to provide supervision for SOS Peer Recovery Coaches working on their CRSW on the third and fifth Wednesday of  October at the Rochester Recovery Community Center from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at the Dover Recovery Community Center on the first and third  Monday of every month from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This is open to all SOS RCO coaches who have completed CCAR Recovery Coach Academy and CCAR Ethical Consideration for Recovery Workers training.
Is Fun Up Your Alley?
If so grab a friend and head to Dover Bowl for a free night of bowling. Dover Bowl will be hosting free bowling the third Saturday of each month. Come join the fun on
February 16th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. . To register click here.
Meetings - Mark Your Calendar!
Caffeinated Conversations
Do you have questions, comments or concerns? Come chat with fellow SOS RCO volunteers during Caffeinated Conversations held the second and fourth Monday of each month at the Dover SOS Recovery Community Center from 1 p.m to 2:30 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at the Rochester SOS Recovery Community Center.

Families Hoping & Coping - A support group for family members and loved ones of persons battling substance misuse, now meets every Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Dover SOS Recovery Community Center, located at 4 Broadway, Dover. 

Healthy Guardians and Grandparents
Are you a guardian or grandparent caring for a child whose parents suffer from a substance use disorder. This program monthly educational and support series is designed for you. Whether you have formal or informal guardianship, you are invited to join others on the second Thursday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Rochester SOS Recovery Community Center located at 63 S. Main St.. Child care is available and a family dinner will be served, Registration is required. Interested person must register on the SOS Facebook events page. 
Several new programs have started in both Dover and Rochester. Make sure you check out this month's calendars!
Dover SOS  Recovery Community Calendar - Click here to view Dover Calendar
Rochester SOS  Recovery Community Calendar - Click here to view Rochester Calendar
Copyright 2017 SOSRCO*, All rights reserved.

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311 Route 108, Somersworth, NH 03878

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SOS Recovery Community Organization · 311 Rt 108 · Somersworth, NH 03878 · USA

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