About 70 persons struggling with substance abuse have already been helped since the creation of the Hinemlu O’hala Para Enteramenti Recovery Center, or the HOPE Recovery Center, in Marpi.
This came to light yesterday when Gov. Ralph DLG Torres proclaimed September as CNMI Recovery Month, to emphasize the thrust of the HOPE Recovery Center.
Esther Milne, program director for substance abuse addiction and rehabilitation program under the Office of the Governor, said that some of their 70 clients at the HOPE recovery center were self-referrals.
“When people come in here, there are self-referrals or they come through a referring agency such as drug court, adult probation, or even the parole office,” Milne said.
The facility was created on Aug. 15, 2017.
Milne noted that the 16-week program is client-centered, meaning the length of treatment under the program varies per case.
In line with celebrating the first-year anniversary, Torres yesterday proclaimed September as CNMI Recovery Month.
“…Recovery month focuses on not only people and treatment, but also people who are in recovery. That is the main important thing for today,” Milne said.
The program Milne oversees, abbreviated to SAAR, aims to provide a “cultural and evidenced-based” treatment along with “best-practiced strategy services” on rehabilitation and recovery in order to improve the overall quality of life for individuals struggling with substance abuse and behavioral difficulties related to addictions.
The guest speaker for the ceremony, who wishes to remain unnamed, shared his experiences with substance abuse, which caused him to be incarcerated for 10 years.
Marvin, which is not his real name, said he struggled with the stigma that comes with being incarcerated.
“It was very difficult for me. Everyone I knew had changed, moved one, or simply turned their backs on me. That’s what it felt like to me,” he said, adding that due to the isolation, he turned back to his addiction. “I sought solace with old acquaintances—I sought comfort in drugs and alcohol.”
“I was barely functioning,” Marvin said, adding that he was hooked for an additional 10 years.
“It got to a point where I was so sick and tired of it—ruining my relationships and losing my kids. With no hope, I found myself standing at the gates of [the HOPE] facility. In this place, I met a group of people who did not judge me, who did not tell me that there was something wrong with me, and that they could fix it,” he said.
Marvin noted that, with SAAR, he was able to retreat to a quiet place.
“They guided me to work with my resentments and to deal with my anger. The SAAR program empowered me to take charge of the situation. They have empowered me to gain control over my life,” he said. “I no longer try to outrun my past. I can never truly atone for the all past indiscretions, harm, and chaos I have caused. I can never make up for any of those things I have done, but I can make things better from today moving forward. I have come to realize that the things I have done are not necessarily the things I am capable of doing,” adding that because of drugs, it filled his head with anger, self-loathing, and self-doubt.
“I will no longer limit myself to such destructive behaviors and hope that I may be the spark in the light of my family and those around me to strive for a happier, healthier life for the CNMI.”
For those interested in the program, contact SAAR at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323-4673.