With the state of the opioid crisis not getting any better, Chuck Hemeon, Derry Fire Department’s Director of Emergency Medical Services, invited Eric Spofford, owner of Granite Recovery Centers, Jeff Hatch, the National Marketer for Granite Recovery Centers and, John Iudice, a licensed independent clinical social worker and master licensed alcohol and drug counselor from Addiction Recovery Services, to meet with many of Derry’s First Responders to talk about dealing with the recovery aspect of some of the many victims they revive on an all too regular basis as part of a series of training sessions.
Since the opioid epidemic is only getting worse in Derry and its surrounding communities, Hemeon felt it was important to bring in some “real life” recovery stories to show that “people do get better.”
Spofford, who runs one of the largest substance abuse centers in the state, spoke on how, when growing up in the area, he was brought back to life on many occasions. On one of those occasions, Derry emergency medical technician Rick Fisher revived him from an overdose on the front lawn of an apartment on Linlew Drive in Derry.
He thanked those attending and stressed that despite the lack of appreciation from those who are revived, he is proof that people can get better.
Also speaking, from the perspective of an addict was Jeff Hatch, who was drafted by the New York Giants and played in the National Football League for about seven years until a back injury during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended his career. He became addicted to painkillers and brought himself to the brink of death several times.
After his professional football career, at 26, when he wasn’t under the influence of drugs, he was contemplating suicide.
These were two examples of how, regardless of how many times someone is revived, there is still hope for recovery. Both men have now devoted their lives to helping others with similar problems.
The last speaker of the morning was Iudice, who gave a slide presentation of the causes and effects of addiction.
When first responders where asked what they believed to be the causes of addiction, most answered that they were genes, heredity, and social influences.
Iudice explained that “It’s a complex problem, and there is no one singular cause,” but understanding that the brain is largely to blame for most addictions is a good start. He also stated that “An addicted brain is doing exactly what it is designed to do. Addicts condition their brains to take drugs. Addictive behavior usually involves strong degrees of pleasure and repletion.”
Many addicts start their behavior after experiencing depression, and the cure for many is a combination of “Nature and Nurture.”
He finished by saying that the good news is that “The brain is designed to learn and change and can be re-taught. Death is final, but resuscitation may lead to better life decisions and to the road to recovery for addicts.
After the presentation, the first responders shared some of their experiences with the guest speakers in a private meeting.