In March 2022, the Senate passed a Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus spending bill that included Congressionally Directed Spending items. We are excited to announce that 2 projects Liberation Programs applied for was included in that bill. President Biden signed the bill into law on Friday, March 11th. We are grateful to Senator Richard Blumenthal for pushing our projects through and championing our life saving work.
The first project to receive funding will provide Family Recovery Coaching at the Pelletier Wellness Center in Bridgeport. These family-focused Recovery Coaches will conduct group sessions and work with Recoverees and their families during treatment and after discharge to connect them to recovery supports and impart their recovery knowledge as a peer. A support network that involves family is vital in ensuring successful long-term recovery. Family therapy groups will allow Recoverees and their families to communicate in a recovery-friendly setting and learn how to support one another while addressing pre-existing issues. The Coaches seek to have the family become a recovery-friendly unit to both aid their loved one in recovery and to recover for themselves, as families recover independently of their loved ones.
Coaches will also aid Recoverees and their families during treatment and after discharge to ensure they continue to receive necessary recovery support, especially during the first year of treatment and the first six months after discharge. The Coach will act as a source of support and encouragement to Recoverees and families, serving as a mentor with lived experience of recovery’s challenges and complexities. They may attend recovery and medical meetings with Recoverees, help the Recoveree secure work and housing, and assist families in their own recovery process through tailored service and support during their loved one’s treatment and after they discharge.
The second project is part of our response to the pandemic. We hired more frontline staff to help stagger shifts and reduce overall exposure to potential COVID-19 infection. This led to the need for increased office space which was created by refurbishing the lower level of the Pelletier Wellness Center to provide more offices. In addition to the necessary increase in office space, this funding allowed us to construct a gender-neutral bathroom for staff to utilize in the lower level.
On April 14th, Senator Blumenthal visited the Pelletier Wellness Center to announce the approval of over $150,000 for these projects. We had the opportunity to show the Senator and News12 Connecticut our program as well as our Mobile Wellness Van which provides harm reduction supplies and connections to care throughout Lower Fairfield County. Our goal is to do whatever we can to save lives and keep people alive until, and if, they are ready for treatment. As Joanne Montgomery said, “If we do more, we can save more lives”.
You can see more of the story here.
Liberation Programs, a Substance Misuse Treatment organization in Fairfield County, has received a $5,000 COVID Resiliency Grant from United Way of Western Connecticut to support programs in Stamford including Liberation Clinic and Lib House. During the COVID19 Pandemic, Liberation Programs saw increased expenses related to purchasing PPE, enhancing sanitation protocols, hiring additional frontline staff, and utilizing telehealth for virtual therapy. Liberation Programs’ Stamford Outpatient Program, Liberation Clinic, is the only federally licensed methadone clinic in Stamford and serves approximately 1,100 individuals per year. Lib House, the inpatient residential program for men in Stamford, has a capacity to serve 65 individuals at a time.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the United States was in the midst of an Opioid Epidemic which has been exacerbated as the pandemic has continued. In 2020, Connecticut experienced 1,378 drug overdose deaths, up 14.3% from 2019 (1,202). Data from the Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill shows that between January and June 2021, there were 547 confirmed overdose deaths and numerous pending deaths are suspected overdoses. Fairfield County saw a dramatic 26.3% increase in fatal overdoses in 2020. This continued tragic climb is indicative of the increased demand for services through an unprecedented time where people are turning to substance use as a coping mechanism.
As more people experience a greater need for treatment in Fairfield County and nationwide, Liberation Programs has experienced a steady demand for its services. Fiona Wilkes, Director of Development and Communications, says “Thanks to our supporters, such as United Way of Western Connecticut, we will continue to provide life saving services to those who need us most. This funding allows us to maintain our high level of programming while increasing capacity to meet the needs of the community.” Liberation Programs is currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary.
ABOUT UNITED WAY OF WESTERN CONNECTICUT
United Way of Western Connecticut improves the lives of hard-working, struggling households by mobilizing the resources of local communities to create lasting change. United Way helps residents across Northern Fairfield County, Southern Litchfield County and the City of Stamford by focusing on the vital building blocks for a good life: education, financial stability and health. It is particularly focused on a population identified as ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). By leveraging the collective power of the community, we are focused on creating an environment where individuals and families are self-sufficient and can achieve financial independence. For more information about United Way of Western Connecticut, please visit: www.uwwesternct.org. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Follow us on Instagram. Watch us on YouTube.
By Maggie Young
As the world re-opens after months of feeling isolated and disconnected there will likely be strong desires to engage in celebratory events over the summer. Summer fun could be a challenge for those in early recovery. A personal commitment, support from others and diligence is important for sustained recovery. I recall how much time and energy I wasted concocting reasons not to join family and friends for gatherings such as a barbecue, beach day or other family events during the summer months for fear of being triggered to drink. When gathered the majority of my time I spent pondering and plotting ways to steal away for a quick drink without anyone noticing. The energy that was required to appear present with love ones, while pre-occupied with how to get the first drink was exhausting. That first drink always led to seven or eight more and days and weeks later sheer remorse, guilt and shame.
My addiction consistently called for 100% of my time and attention while my heart yearned to be enjoying the company of those whom I love and love me.
I know things now that I did not know before landing in recovery; one realization is that gatherings during summer months triggered me to want to drink and use other drugs more than any other time of year. Summertime meant the three B’s, Beach, Barbecue and Beer. The smell of charcoal and lighter fluid, crackling flames, taste of grilled food, cooler filled with ice and beverages, sound of a cap popping from a bottle, hissing sound as a beer can was opened, were all par to the course and seemed like fun for some, yet not for everyone.
During the summer, fun and laughter is typically present and consistent; however, there may be one or two individuals fighting to be present, where laughter and fun is absent. Present is fear that departure would mean being judged and labeled uninterested, disrespectful and selfish. However, that same individual may be experiencing anxiety because their insides are rapidly peaking and dipping while the struggle to be present where their feet are out weights where their head is, which is in a totally different place. A place where they long to escape and consume alcohol to settle their nerves, if only long enough to murmur a few words and to appear connected while their mind remains in the far distance. Never quite where their feet are, never quite present always distant, distracted and preoccupied.
The COVID19 pandemic in 2020, forced us all to dig deep into our reserve for sustainability and to maintain mental, physical, emotional and social health, and to add another layer the daily task to stay sober.
Walking into summer 2021 it is important to be prepared to do consistent work in order to be sober. Those who have not begun their recovery process, wants-to-want to be sober and/or are in early recovery may not know where to begin or how to proceed. You and I may be the start for someone who is in pre-sobriety or have a desire to start his or her recovery process, the window of opportunity only last a short time. Offer a supportive word or gesture, it may go a long way and save a life.
Prior to the COVID19 pandemic, the recovery community relied heavily on in-person meetings for connection, fellowship with one another, and spirituality as a foundation with consistent reminders that we were/are not alone. That reliance is crucial, the need for love and support, a non-judgmental listening ear, and stern hand to hold, as well as someone to lean on during times of need. Each decision to be sober requires the following ingredients; commitment, motivation, hard work and resources including peer supports and a spiritual foundation. Although the world is re-opening, there are still individuals who fear returning to in-person meetings and remain isolated and afraid to ask for or accept support, another ingredient that is required to be sober. To that end I challenge US all to be supportive, open our heart and mind and push beyond any belief (real or fancied) that someone else will be a sober champion so we do not need to.
Let us not wait until we see someone in crisis to act, we can all be a HERO or SHERO to someone who is struggling this summer. What if you are the missing ingredient, May all who choose, experience a SAFE, SOBER SUMMER!
Maggie Young, MSW, LADC, Chief Recovery Officer at Liberation Programs, Inc.
By: Maggie Young
Is it possible to demonstrate unconditional love to someone with a substance use disorder (SUD)?
Does love get clouded when addiction takes shape? Does an individual experiencing addiction not deserve love? Isn’t Love! Love!
Do we believe that Love transcends all barriers or are we only speaking that with our mouth but do not really believe that it applies to us personally?
Each individual living with a SUD represents only one ripple in the pond, although connected to others who love them, it may be; a family with a mother, father, siblings and pets or family may be a pet or a friend. Love remains consistent yet boundaries are blurred and confusion drops in causing love ones to question their love because a person is living with a SUD. With love comes judgement; individuals with SUD’s are not the only ones who are judged; so are loved ones and supporters. Stigma created by labels and linked to negative connotations oftentimes stifle, choke and shame those loving and supporting individuals with SUD. Addiction is a disease as are other chronic diseases comparable to cancer and heart disease. Those are not judged but respected as diseases and loved ones are praised for supporting and loving them. However, Individuals living with SUD’s and their loved ones are weighted down with cloaks of labels such as; dysfunctional, codependent and enablers. Labels that Identify love as a factor that prevents and prolongs healing and recovery. Supporters are told that they are hurtful instead of helpful, language, which is overrated and insensitive. Ask yourself, why would anyone limit or box in their love for someone because they are living with a SUD. Are individuals with chronic diseases other than SUD challenged to “suck it up and get over the disease”? The disease of addiction should be handled the same as other chronic diseases with love, understanding and support.
A Mother’s Love!
A friend of mine recently lost her daughter as a result of her SUD, Mom loved and supported her daughter throughout her 34 years of life. My friend ensured that her daughter had all she needed including access to treatment. In spite of Mom providing for and loving her, she still died. Would one call her love enabling or co-dependent because Mom provided her basic needs? Was she co-dependent because she continued to support her or was she simply a loving mother? My friend did the best she knew how and loved without bounds with her entire heart. It was an honest mother-daughter relationship. Does one believe mom should have allowed her daughter to hurt more and feel love less?
My mother loved me through full-blown addiction for two decades and into long-term recovery; loving a person with a substance use disorder (SUD) IS possible, so is recovery!
Loving unconditionally, without boundaries and restriction while also supporting and not delaying recovery is conceivable. I am a prime example; my mother Loved me through decades of active addiction into long-term Recovery. My surrender was grounded in love and my mother’s prayers, inpatient treatment, incarceration, engagement in sober support groups as well as willingness to put the alcohol and other drugs down and arrest my SUD.
Where my mother gained her strength and sustained her faith to pray for me all those years I will never know. What I do know is even while using alcohol and drugs I knew Mom loved me and no matter how long I was away, how far I had gone, nor how deep into my addiction I was I never felt unloved. Even in the thick of my addiction, my mother remained my rock and my foundation. When I called Mom picked up the phone, when I knocked, Mom opened the door and invited me in. I was shy, introverted and uninterested in the social side of life including parties, I was a late starter. The addiction was slow and steady and the progression was swift and intense. My first drink was at age 16, second drink at age 17 and I did not like it. By second semester in college, I was using cocaine and soon heroin. By year two, I was abusing alcohol and other drugs, and visits home stopped. Priorities flipped and my life took a 360, things took a turn for the worse and attending classes was an after-thought. For the next 15+ plus years, I spiraled out and down, sinking lower and lower in my drug use until I crashed in 1992.
February 6, 1992 was one of the coldest winters ever; I climbed two flights of steep red-carpeted stairs; where I made one of the most important decisions in my life. The following morning, my mother was at the door to deliver a gift basket with everything I needed, she met me, smiled and wrapped me in a huge bear hug and whispered in my ear “I Love You, God saved you by bringing you here.” That statement and hug, was dripped in enough love to carry me through. Those stairs led to Liberation House, which was then a co-ed treatment center. By the grace and mercy of GOD, I have not engaged in active addiction since that day. February 6, 2021, I celebrated 29 years in long-term recovery. My mother loved me through all the despair and darkness of my addiction, she never allowed my SUD to blur or block her love, she loved me in spite of it. With love all things are possible, including unconditionally love of those of us living with a SUD.
We do recover; MY MOTHER’S LOVE and prayers planted the seed that grew into my long-term recover of 29 years. That seed was watered and nurtured by treatment at Liberation Programs, Inc. Peer supports, consistent surrender, willingness and daily perseverance, and sober support groups and activities in spite of my SUD. I am GRATEFUL that I get to demonstrate Recovery One-Day-At-A-Time through my work at Liberation Programs, Inc.
Remember love endures ALL. Assist your loved one to access support and help whenever they need help, treatment is available so are sober support and sober coaches. If treatment has been tried and did not stick, try again, remember every treatment experience is valuable you never know which one it will be, you might save a life. Don’t Give Up!!!
If you or a loved one is seeking substance abuse treatment reach us at www.liberationprograms.org