“They Welcomed Me”—Substance Use Disorder Patient Cared For by Behavioral Health Staff

Two sets of hands clasped together

Close to 20 years ago, ‘Suzy’ (name has been changed) found herself in need of behavioral health services after she lost custody of her two children due to substance use disorder. Suzy was addicted to methamphetamines, which not only affected her mental and physical health, but her ability to care for her children.

After losing custody of her children, Suzy realized that she needed help and found Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth, which is part of Greater Seacoast Community Health’s network of community health centers. The network offers primary care, dental care, behavioral health counseling, substance use disorder treatment, social work services, access to low-cost medications, and parenting resources.

When Suzy reached out, Families First was offering an anger management class, taught by a behavioral health provider. That provider ended up working one on one with Suzy to help overcome her substance use disorder.

 “They [Families First staff] welcomed me and made me feel comfortable,” she said. “That provider was so helpful to me.”

Suzy completed her anger management classes and regularly attended recovery groups including Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. After showing the court proof that she was in recovery and able to take care of her children, she was granted custody.

Following her recovery, Suzy continued to benefit from Families First’s behavioral health providers who helped her to manage other mental health conditions.

“Because of the help and support I get here, I’m able to mentally function,” she said. “Without Families First, I would not be where I am today.”

Suzy is working on managing emotions and avoiding conflicts. Her provider helped her to recognize when other people aren’t treating her well and how it’s okay to not acknowledge them. She said that she always looks forward to her therapist visits and appreciates that all the staff members know her name.

Suzy explained that Families First staff have always listened to her concerns and helped with her problems. Staff members have helped her obtain housing, and get the services she needed during panic attacks.

“My provider told me to call if there’s ever a problem,” Suzy said. “That’s big in my life. It makes me feel safe.”


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