On Wednesday, Western Mass News turned to Debra Flynn-Gonzalez, Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke Program Director, for expert insight on how stories like celebrity Demi Lovato’s reported overdose hit close to home.

Lovato, who had been sober for six years, relapsed on Tuesday and overdosed. She was treated with the overdose prevention drug  Narcan before being transported to a hospital. Her condition is stable.

“We’re very familiar with her story,” Flynn-Gonzalez said. “As a recovery community we know that relapse is often part of the process of recovery. It’s not a requirement, we know that too.”

Flynn-Gonzalez leads Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke, a peer-to-peer support program where the idea of community is vital to pursuing recovery. Substance users often carry feelings of isolation and hopelessness, which can sometimes lead to relapse and overdose. Hope for Holyoke provides a communal environment where users and individuals in recovery can talk with people with similar experiences, who understand the hardships and stigmas that accompany substance use.

“The support from other people and peers,” added Flynn-Gonzalez. “I hope that she and anyone has that in her life so you can talk to people who were in your shoes.”

The Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area (Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties combined) had 148 confirmed fatal overdoses in 2017. Between 2000-2017, the area had 1,390 fatal overdoses.

You can read the Western Mass News article and watch the video segment online here.

Hope for Holyoke

Hope for Holyoke offers free, no-insurance-needed services including relapse prevention and tobacco cessation support groups, social events, access to computers for job readiness/job search activities, and advocacy and recovery coaching. Support also includes peer governance where participants form advisory boards and use community meetings to create policies such as Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, and determine program activities such as peer support groups and participation in health fairs, community events and celebrations/holidays.

All paths to recovery are accepted. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Parents may bring adolescents or children to the center if they follow the center’s policy related to supervision and attendance. Members who come under the influence of substances or alcohol are given a choice to go for treatment or they will be asked to leave and come back when they are not under the influence.

Location:
100 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Contact: (413) 561-1020
Hours:
Monday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Referral:
Open, Self
No costs, no insurance needed.