Substance-free Thanksgiving provides recovery support

DOVER — For those seeking a substance-free environment to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, Southeastern New Hampshire Drug & Alcohol Services and SOS Recovery Organization have teamed up to provide such a place.

Starting Wednesday at 5 p.m. and continuing until Thursday at 4 p.m., the two organizations will provide food, a place to gather and a variety of events to commune with others, from 12-step meetings to yoga to Refuge Recovery to give additional support during the holiday. It takes place at Southeastern’s facility at the Strafford County complex on County Farm Road in Dover.

“The holidays are a tough time of year for a lot of people who struggle with substance misuse,” said John Burns, the director of SOS Recovery Organizations. The holidays can be especially challenging for those early in recovery, he said, noting that often a person’s substance misuse has affected the entire family, and reconnecting can be a struggle.

Last year, SOS held its own event but decided to join forces this year with SENHS, which has held its annual “alcathon” for the past 13 years. “Partnering with SOS allows us to further expand the multiple pathways that we can expose people to during the holiday, and allow for ongoing opportunities for success in recovery,” said Nick Pfeifer, chief executive officer of Southeastern.

Jessica Hamilton, Southeastern’s development manager, said the event takes place downstairs of Southeastern’s facility. They will bring lamps, hang Christmas lights and tea lights to light the room to give it a homey feeling, she said. They’ll have a turkey, and those who attend are welcomed to bring a potluck dish to share.

“People can come anytime they want,” she said, whether it is for an hour in the middle of the night, or to stay for the entire event.

Everybody is welcome, even those who are not in recovery, such as a family member. “It can give struggling families hope to see how many people are in recovery and leading productive and healthy lives,” Burns said.

SOS is a peer-led recovery community organization while Southeastern is a treatment facility. SOS, in its locations in Dover and Rochester, provides recovery supports through multiple pathways and holds a variety of peer recovery services including recovery coaching, telephone recovery supports, crisis navigation, and a variety of activities such as yoga, art and music in recovery and social activities. Its mission is to reduce stigma and harm associated with substance use and misuse by providing safe space and peer-based supports for people in all stages of recovery.

Southeastern is a treatment facility that offers outpatient counseling, residential programming, impaired driver care management program, intensive outpatient programming and drug court.

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