At the Hinemlu O’hala Para Enteramenti, or HOPE, Recovery Center, healing is possible with a strong support network and inner work.
Licensed clinical social worker Debbie Roth and master of social work Queayla Sablan share that true, lasting rehabilitation comes from within.
For over 15 years, Roth dedicated her life to working with individuals and families addressing a wide variety of issues, including substance abuse.
She joined certified substance abuse counselor and licensed clinical social worker Reuben Chong from the beginning and has witnessed the impact to participants and families in such a short time.
Roth said it has been an exciting journey, working and growing with the participants.
“We get to witness their journey through recovery,” she said. “It’s an awe-inspiring work in progress because this is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth. Together, we get an opportunity to try various approaches to see what works best with our community.”
Sablan said that, after being away from home, returning and working at the center is worth it.
The center, she said, is at the heart of addressing social issues within the community.
“I recently moved back from Hawaii, and while there, I worked with families who were referred to child welfare services. We would receive referrals for families who had substance abuse issues and work with them by helping them get into treatment. I have recently entered the workforce in the CNMI and this is my first job where I work directly with addiction so this is a learning experience not just for the clients but for me as well,” she said.
Yvette R. Sablan, special assistant for Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, sees the center as a community within a community.
“The work of our counselors, case managers, and clinicians is so vital to helping our friends, families, and even our neighbors re-enter society. We see how drug addiction often changes a person’s behavior, which can affect all aspects of their lives, including our small community. In recovery, patients do their best to regain their normal lives in a safe and healthy way, but more importantly, we hope to reduce the stigma they carry since many have a real desire to be here, to complete the treatment and to change for the better. With the recent graduation of our first participant, we remain very hopeful and I feel that with the support of our community, there is so much to look forward to,” Sablan said.
Roth noted that the center offers hope in a way that never existed before.
“This is important because we are letting the community know that seeking help is not something you have to hide anymore. The program focuses on a lot of support from family, the community, staff and the participants,” she said.
Everyone could use a second chance, she adds, a second chance to embrace new outlooks and a new perspective on life.
With a refreshing sense of hope, Sablan calls the experience a beautiful journey not just for the center, but for the people of the CNMI.
“It’s a journey because we’re the first to have a rehab center and we get to tailor the program to make it work for the participants. Like a flower, we’re slowly blooming and when we finally blossom, the flower is going to be so beautiful.”
Roth is calling on those in the community struggling with addiction or other issues to seek help as help is readily available. “Together, we must support those seeking help, and it is my hope that we continue to grow and expand the center to meet the changing needs of our community.”
Recalling the first days of the center, Sablan said a second chance for many is very liberating.
“It’s empowering to see others realize their potential. We’ve created such a safe environment that allows people to focus on themselves and make themselves better, mentally, physically, or spiritually. Although we are helping the individual, we are really helping the community. We are not allowing drugs and other issues to take over our island,” she said. “I hope the center continues to be a safe place for anyone who wants to seek help and I hope everyone continues to support the recovery center and the work everyone is doing.”
Expressing deep gratitude for the ongoing work of the center, Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres emphasized the importance of resilience and hope for the Commonwealth.
“I’ve come to learn that our community is more resilient than we’ve ever imagined. I saw an enormous need to address addiction in our community as soon as possible. It is our duty and it is also my commitment to our community. When the first participant successfully completed treatment, I was overwhelmed with the sense of not only gratitude, but of obligation. If we are able to help one person, that one life can continue to make changes and affect more lives. It really is up to us to prioritize the needs of our community and be there for each other. We are making positive changes and this program gives us hope instead of focusing on incarceration. We’ve all been affected by this issue in some way and I hold one of the hardest memories that broke me down completely. This center is a gift to everyone who calls these islands home and is an ongoing commitment to giving our community another chance to thrive and to build a foundation for the future,” Torres said.
Looking to the future, Roth and Sablan said that you don’t have to be alone in recovery and that finding the strength within yourself is a good a place to start since it’s never too late to get help.
HOPE services are free and the center is staffed 24 hours a day with participants from the general public.
For more information or help, call 323-7277/78. (PR)