At a press conference held at the newly-opened Jim Gillen Anchor Youth Recovery Community Center in Providence, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety, announced a $50,000 grant to support the Center’s efforts to provide recovery supports for youth in Rhode Island who have substance use disorders.
The Youth Recovery Community Center, founded by The Providence Center, is the first of its kind in Rhode Island, specializing in providing youth with afterschool and weekend programs coupled with recovery supports. It complements the programs at the Anchor Learning Academy, a recovery high school combining academics and therapeutic support for students overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, by ensuring students have a safe place to go with continued support once the school day ends.
Rhode Island continues to have some of the highest rates of alcohol use, illicit drug use, and marijuana use in the nation, far exceeding the national average. According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2015-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Rhode Island was third in the nation for marijuana use by youth age 12-17 in the past year, and the highest use of marijuana by the same age group in the past 30 days.
According to the same study, Rhode Island ranked second for illicit drug use by youth in the past 30 days with 12.47 percent of youth admitting having used an illicit drug in the past 30 days as compared to the national average of 8.34 percent.
Rhode Island ranked as the third highest for consumption of alcohol with 12.10 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 admit to having alcohol in the past 30 days, as compared to the national average of 9.4 percent.
Additionally, at the time of the study, Rhode Island had the highest percentage of youth, age 12-17, with substance abuse disorders with 4.81 percent diagnosed as having a substance use disorder, as compared to the national average of 3.3 percent.
Until now, there were no recovery community centers in Rhode Island specifically tailored to meet youth needs.
The grant was funded through the disposition of an individual who pleaded guilty to operating an illegal marijuana grow and was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution to fund a substance use recovery program identified by the attorney general and colonel.
“Make no mistake, the defendant in this case was profiting from illegal marijuana that most certainly made it into the hands of our youth, and it’s only fitting that some of his ill-gotten profits be put towards a program to support youth struggling with substance use disorders,” Kilmartin. “While much of the focus has been on the opioid and fentanyl crisis in Rhode Island, youth substance use disorders most often start out with teens using marijuana and alcohol, which can lead to using other illicit drugs as adults. The Jim Gillen Anchor Youth Recovery Community Center fills a void in the state’s recovery network, and will help youth on the path to lifelong recovery.”
“Unfortunately, as we know from past experience, abuse of alcohol and marijuana often leads to abuse of other illicit drugs,” said Colonel Assumpico.” That is why it is critical to provide these young people with the help they need to prevent long-term alcohol and drug addiction. We are grateful to the Court for approving this plea agreement, which holds a drug dealer accountable for the victims of his actions, and we are happy to see this money go to such a worthwhile program.”
“We’re very appreciative for this grant from the Attorney General and the Colonel, and for their partnership in helping to provide these important supports to young Rhode Islanders,” said Deb O’Brien, The Providence Center’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “Successfully implementing projects like this one requires an engaged community, and this is a great example of the State coming together to improve the healthcare landscape.”
“For many people, peer recovery support is the key to being successful in achieving and sustaining their recovery. Recovery mentorship provides living proof that a recovery lifestyle is possible,” according to Deb Dettor, Director of Anchor Services at The Providence Center. “We are grateful for the generous support of the Attorney General and the Colonel that will help Anchor extend the hope of recovery to Rhode Island youth and families.”
Speaking at the press conference was Abbie, a young woman who struggled with substance abuse as a teenager who found recovery and will serve as a recovery coach at the Youth Recovery Community Center.
“Young people and their families have waited a very long time for a safe, sober place to connect, learn and develop their personal paths to recovery,” said Abbie Stenberg, Peer Recovery Specialist at the Jim Gillen Recovery Community Center. “With the support of Attorney General Kilmartin and Colonel Assumpico, the center offers me the opportunity to share what I have learned and be the person I needed when I was younger struggling with substance use.”