NH Holds First-Ever Presidential Town Hall Addressing Addiction, Recovery

Plaistow, NH – Hundreds of New Hampshire residents came together on December 2, 2007, to press Presidential campaigns to advance and support policies that effectively address the many alcohol and drug problems facing the state and the nation.

This first-ever town hall meeting and panel discussion covering addiction and recovery issues was attended by representatives from the campaigns of Senator Joe Biden, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator John Edwards, Senator Mike Gravel, Governor Mike Huckabee, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Senator John McCain, Senator Barack Obama, and Governor Bill Richardson.
“As a person in long-term recovery from addiction, I know that people can and do recover,” said moderator Lisa Peakes, host of New Hampshire Public Radio's Morning Edition. “Today, we will hear how candidates are responding to questions from people across the state and from individuals and family members who have first-hand experiences with addiction and recovery.”

New Hampshire is particularly hard hit by addiction. In 2006 111,000 residents needed but did not receive treatment for alcohol and drug problems and there is a 3 to 6 week waiting period for residents needing residential treatment. Nationally, over 21 million Americans need, but do not receive, treatment for addiction to alcohol and other drugs. 

“We'd like Presidential candidates to tell New Hampshire voters and the American public what steps that they will take to adopt meaningful health policy reforms,” said Niki Miller, panelist and Executive Director of the New Hampshire Taskforce on Women & Recovery. “For us, homeland security means we address prevention and recovery now, save tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars down the road, and know our children are safe from drugs in our schools. Candidates must realize real change starts with them.”

Addiction recovery advocates from New Hampshire and around the nation are coalescing around a three-point action plan for change: Registering themselves and others to vote, educating voters on candidates' positions, and getting out the vote in the upcoming primaries and next November's general election.

“We're here today to let all of the candidates know that there is an organized constituency that wants to know where they stand on policies that will promote addiction prevention, treatment and recovery,” said Carol McDaid, in long-term recovery from addiction and a member of sponsoring organization Faces & Voices of Recovery's board of directors.

The event, held at the Timberlane Regional Performing Arts Center in Plaistow, was sponsored by Friends of Recovery-NH (FOR-NH); FASTER (Families Advocating Substance Abuse Treatment, Education and Recovery); Timberlane Regional School District; New Hampshire Alcohol and Other Drug Service Providers Association; New Hampshire Task Force on Women and Recovery; The SAD CAFÉ; Sanborn/Timberlane Safe and Drug Free Community Coalition and national sponsors: CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America); NAADAC: The Association for Addiction Professionals; NCCBH (The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare); and Faces & Voices of Recovery – Recovery Voices Count.

Other panelists included Ann Corson, a family member whose son is now in recovery; Joyce Barron, a student at Odyssey, NH high school, the state's only recovery high school; Barry Timmerman, LADC, coordinator of Substance Abuse Services at Odyssey New Hampshire; Niki Miller, MS, CPS, a person in long-term recovery and Executive Director of the New Hampshire Taskforce on Women & Recovery; Peter DalPra, LADC, an addiction professional and Clinical Director of Serenity Place; and Joe Harding, Director of the New Hampshire Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Policy. 

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