Riverbank's Pat Anderson Recognized for Work in Recovery by the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative
On June 28, PAARI honored the law enforcement partners, public health leaders, and elected officials who have helped grow its mission nationwide. PAARI encourages opioid drug users to seek recovery, distributes life saving opioid blocking drugs to prevent and treat overdoses, connects addicts with treatment programs and facilities, and provides resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemic.
More than 200 people, including Richard Baum, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, law enforcement from around the country, state officials, and public health advocates attended the event marking the two year anniversary of PAARI, a drug addiction treatment program that grew out of the Gloucester Police Department’s Angel Initiative.
Pat Anderson was one of four past participants in the Angel program saluted at the ceremony. They were each awarded the Stephanie Jesi Memorial Scholarship to help them on their paths toward recovery. The Scholarship is named for the Middeton, MA woman who went through a PAARI opioid treatment program, but relapsed and fatally overdosed in December 2015.
Excerpts from Pat's acceptance speech:
I want to start by saying that I should not be standing in front of you today. I had accepted that I would die alone with a needle in my arm. I made sure that nothing was going to get in the way of my addiction. Not the love of my family, the love of a woman, not the police, not a job, not anyone or anything. I was wasting away and would wake up every day upset that I’d woken up at all, having lost my will to live. I was in the vicious cycle of addiction, frequenting detoxes, rehab’s, and sober houses. I would put together some clean time and begin to put my life back together only to relapse and have it come crashing down around me again. I was trying anything and everything outside of actually working on myself and trying to change my ways.
Thankfully, with help, I was finally able to break that vicious cycle. (The Angel Initiative) is where my journey began. I was fortunate enough to enter the Riverbank House recovery community in Laconia, NH after the initial help I received from the Angel program. I am still at the Riverbank House today where, after 6 months, I was given the opportunity to help other men suffering with addiction. I have a purpose today and I wake up grateful to be alive.
We cannot fight this disease alone. We need help and support from our loved ones and especially from our communities at large. We need to remember that an addict is still someone’s son, brother, cousin, daughter, wife, husband, friend, co-worker. There are so many people in our communities suffering in silence. They need to know that help is available to them and that there is a way out other than death. I will continue to fight for myself and fellow addicts and to honor those that didn’t make it. Thank you everyone for the opportunity to speak to you tonight. It is truly an honor. God bless.