New addiction recovery resource center opening in Lebanon

Ashley Clay, left, resource navigation specialist, visits Kara Stickney, recovery support specialist, in her office at the TLC Recovery Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. The TLC Recovery Center in Claremont sees up to 130 people per week, and the organization chose to open a second location in Lebanon to better serve their target population, which includes Sullivan and lower Grafton counties. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Ashley Clay, left, resource navigation specialist, visits Kara Stickney, recovery support specialist, in her office at the TLC Recovery Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. The TLC Recovery Center in Claremont sees up to 130 people per week, and the organization chose to open a second location in Lebanon to better serve their target population, which includes Sullivan and lower Grafton counties. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

Skeletons and jack-o-lanterns decorate a table of naloxone kits that are free to anyone who needs them at the TLC Recovery Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Skeletons and jack-o-lanterns decorate a table of naloxone kits that are free to anyone who needs them at the TLC Recovery Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Dan Wargo, director of recovery programs, works at the new TLC Recovery Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. The center is open for drop-ins from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and offers individual guidance for accessing resources and navigating addiction recovery. Wargo said he expects the center’s offerings to expand as the staff learns about the needs and wants of the community. “I want it to create itself,” he said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Dan Wargo, director of recovery programs, works at the new TLC Recovery Center in Lebanon, N.H., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. The center is open for drop-ins from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and offers individual guidance for accessing resources and navigating addiction recovery. Wargo said he expects the center’s offerings to expand as the staff learns about the needs and wants of the community. “I want it to create itself,” he said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

By NORA DOYLE-BURR

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 10-10-2023 9:43 PM

LEBANON — A new place with support services for residents recovering from addiction is opening this month in the heart of the Upper Valley.

The TLC recovery center, located at 24 Hanover St., includes TVs, pool and foosball tables, a coffee bar, a computer station, a play area for children and a conference table, as well as bathrooms, a kitchenette and offices. The opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, also know by the brand name Narcan, is also available for free.

TLC’s similar space in downtown Claremont sees as many as 130 clients weekly and hosts about 10 group meetings each week. The center also sees a consistent flow of people dropping in for informal camaraderie as they try to recover from their addictions.

That is “what we’re hoping to do up here,” Dan Wargo, the director of TLC Recovery Programs, said during a tour of the new center in downtown Lebanon on Tuesday.

The center’s goal is to “build a community” and “give people a positive environment to be in” to get “support that they need by wrapping them around other people working on bettering their lives,” Wargo said.

The center’s opening comes at a time when drug overdose deaths are on the rise in each of the Twin States and nationally. In 2022, Vermont saw 243 opioid-related deaths, up from 217 in 2021, according to the Vermont Department of Health’s September opioid morbidity and mortality report. In New Hampshire, deaths rose to 487 in 2022, up from 436 in 2021, according to New Hampshire’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

“The risk keeps growing and growing,” Wargo said. “It’s a tragedy. The fentanyl (a powerful synthetic opioid) is the biggest catalyst of it all.”

Though the recovery center’s umbrella organization, TLC Family Resource Center, is based in Claremont, it serves both Sullivan County, where Claremont is located, and lower Grafton County, where Lebanon is located.

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TLC Recovery Programs “try to remove any type of barriers for people getting the help they need,” Wargo said.

“Transportation can sometimes be a barrier,” he said.

The organization decided a couple years ago to start thinking about a Lebanon location as well, according to Wargo.

It’s taken a while for the financing to come together, the location to be found and renovations to take place, he said, but now it’s “all coming together.”

The initial launch cost about $70,000 and included renovations, construction, furnishings and onboarding staff, Wargo said.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services approved a two-year grant of $386,000 through the New Hampshire Opioid Abatement Trust Fund for TLC, which also has received donations from Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Mascoma Bank.

The new center does not provide therapy or treatment, but aims to serve as a bridge to help people seeking support as they recover from substance use disorders.

Other Upper Valley organizations providing support for people in recovery or in active drug use welcomed the new center’s opening.

“Dartmouth Health’s Moms in Recovery and Addiction Treatment programs are beyond excited to have this important program available in the Upper Valley,” Teri LaRock, clinical director for Moms in Recovery, said in an emailed statement.

LaRock said the Moms in Recovery program, a Mechanic Street-based outpatient program for pregnant and parenting women who struggle with substance use, has already worked with TLC Recovery Programs and has seen benefits from that work.

“Because of TLC’s skill, commitment and presence, families have been able strengthen and build health recovery-focused lives,” LaRock said.

Laura Byrne, executive director for the Lebanon-based HIV/HCV Resource Center, also has worked with TLC in the past, including to hold HIV and Hepatitis C testing clinics in Claremont. In addition to testing, the HIV/HCV Resource Center offers a needle exchange program as well as xylazine and fentanyl test strips, and it encourages people not to use alone.

While not all of Byrne’s clients are ready for recovery, she said TLC is a “wonderful resource” for those who are. People can choose from individual support, group support and peer recovery support, she said, noting that it’s “nonjudgmental and peer-oriented — they don’t have an agenda.”

Headrest also has added a peer recovery support specialist to its residential program on Church Street.

“I think sometimes that peer recovery support just adds that extra layer where people don’t feel alone,” said Judi Caprio, Headrest’s executive director. “It becomes shared. I think that’s something that can be very helpful, especially getting through a difficult day.”

People who come in to the new Lebanon space when it is open for drop-ins, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, can expect to be greeted by Ashley Clay, a resource navigation specialist. Clay is prepared to help assist people with “immediate needs,” Wargo said.

Wargo also is now based in Lebanon, as is Kara Stickney, a recovery specialist.

Stickney said she aims to help people who “don’t know where to go” to find help getting a driver’s license back, getting to appointments, getting medication-assisted treatment or getting into intensive outpatient or inpatient treatment.

The space, which has been vacant for a couple of years, is still undergoing some renovations. Wargo said he expects the floors to be stripped and waxed this weekend. Furniture, including tables and desks, is expected to be delivered this week.

By “next week, we’ll really be flying high,” he said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.