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Center offering sober space for addicts opens in Hauppauge

A drug recovery center designed to be a safe and sober space for recovering addicts is opened in Hauppauge on Friday, March 3, 2017. The center, called Thrive, will have counselors on hand as well as activities and resources specifically designed to help addicts. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

A recovery center for people fighting addiction who need a sober, safe space officially opened Friday, the first of its kind on Long Island.

THRIVE, on Motor Parkway in Hauppauge, will offer programs on education and wellness for recovering addicts and their families, center officials said.

Jeffrey Reynolds, founder and CEO of the Family and Children’s Association, the organization that will operate the facility with other community groups, said people released from treatment clinics had no place to go, leading to relapses.

“You have folks who go off to really good treatment, they get 30 days max in a very protective bubble and then they come back to the same people, places and things that jammed them up in the first place,” Reynolds said. “And one of the things that Long Island lacks, particularly for young people, is a safe and sober place to go and connect with other safe and sober people.”

The new center will provide recovering addicts with an opportunity to interact with counselors and each other.

THRIVE, which stands for Transformation, Healing, Recovery, Inspiration, Validation and Empowerment, will open for the first time to the public on Saturday at noon with such activities as yoga and live music. Though there will be no formal registration, visitors who are in recovery, or are accompanying someone who is, will be required to sign in, officials said.

The 5,000-square-foot barren office has been transformed into a homelike space, with couches, artwork on the walls, private counseling rooms and a nook for reading and board games.

THRIVE will offer educational and health programs, vocational training, and counseling, as well as parenting and stress management workshops for family members, officials said. Center personnel also will provide information on how to access addiction treatment and help with insurance issues, officials said. The center will be open evenings and weekends, and may extend hours if there is a demand, officials said.

Center officials want to create a space where recovering addicts won’t relapse.

“What we find is people leave their protective bubble of treatment, it’s like stepping off a giant cliff,” Reynolds said. “There’s no easing back into life as it was. There’s no reframing your relationships, there’s no ability to get someone to help redefine your relationship with your family.”

Reynolds was one of six providers with winning bids last year to run the facilities, state officials said in a statement. Reynolds’ group is slated to receive $1.75 million over a five-year period to operate the center, officials said.

The other centers will be on Staten Island and in Newburgh, Saratoga Springs, Watertown and Buffalo.

“Centers like this will help maintain people stable when they get that thought, or something doesn’t go right and they say ‘I’ve got to use because I don’t know which other way to feel good,’” said Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

Lori Carbonaro, 57, said her son Nick died of an overdose in February 2014. And though he battled back his addiction and was putting his life back together, he had no place to go. Carbonaro said had her son had access to a center like THRIVE, she never would have found him unresponsive inside their Selden home.

“If he had a place to go, he told me a number of times, if he had a place to go where people were like him, he would have been there immediately,” Carbonaro said. “There was nothing like this available where all these different things can come together. Because you’re a whole person. You’re not just the addict.”

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