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ICYMI: NYT Highlights How Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts Would Jeopardize New Hampshire Drug Treatment Programs

WASHINGTON - In case you missed it, today’s New York Times highlights how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts would jeopardize funding for Friendship House, the only residential drug treatment center in New Hampshire’s North Country. Senator Hassan recently visited Friendship House to emphasize how Trump’s proposed elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program and the Northern Border Regional Commission would hurt the state’s efforts to combat the heroin, opioid, and fentanyl crisis.

Click here to read the full NYT story or see below for the excerpt on Friendship House:

A Drug Treatment Program at Risk

In northern New Hampshire, along the Ammonoosuc River, people struggling with addiction work toward recovery in a six-decade-old cottage that is not up to code. Friendship House, the only residential drug treatment center within 65 miles, is relying on money from the Community Development Block Grant program to complete a new building by October 2018 that meets code requirements so that the center can continue to provide services.

Kristy Letendre, the center’s director, said Friendship House has already been awarded an initial $500,000 in funds from the grant program to help construct the new building and add a detox center. But the group needs another $500,000 to complete construction and get the building licensed.

“This is immediately affecting us,” Ms. Letendre said. “When you are looking at someone who is struggling with substance abuse, it’s life or death for them.”

Those seeking help at Friendship House included Kimberly Phillips, 33, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in third grade and at 12 began snorting her Ritalin and drinking her parents’ alcohol.

“I didn’t listen to my parents,” she said. “I had behavioral issues. I acted without thought a lot of the time.”

Friendship House’s building is definitely lacking. When a staff member wanted to provide privacy at the front desk for intake clients, Ms. Phillips, who does chores as part of her recovery, cut and hung a shower curtain across the window.

Meetings, classes, and group activities, make for long weekdays at Friendship House. But the weekends can be the most challenging time for residents. Without structured programs, their minds often wander to drugs.

To pass the time, Ms. Phillips plays cards with men in the home, often beating them and talking smack. She shuffles like a pro. When she fans out the cards, she exposes track-mark scars on her arm.

Ms. Phillips has been trying to get sober for five years and has fought to keep from relapsing and overdosing. She recently completed a 28-day intensive program at Friendship House and is now in a 90-day lower intensity program there.

Addicts often face long waiting lists to get into such programs, and those lists might get even longer if the Community Development Block Grant is eliminated.

“I have goosebumps, and I get so emotional thinking about if we don’t get this funding and the amount of people who are going to die,” Ms. Phillips said.

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