The late ‘90s and early 2000s brought a methamphetamine epidemic across the nation. While still a major problem, law enforcements eradication of local mobile labs and legislation to minimize purchasing its ingredients reduced its impact. Addicts, however, don’t just stop using once a drug is tougher to get. Prescription opioids and heroin are the new No. 1 killer in all corners of America. Those dedicating their lives to ridding the world of these poisons know that getting drugs off the street is only one part of a much bigger battle.
Jeremiah Saucier started as a counselor at Crossroads Treatment Center in 2009. Today he owns and runs the facility, something deemed near impossible considering the path he was on earlier in life.
“I was involved in a motorcycle club and in the drug trade at a very high level,” said Saucier. In 1998, he was indicted by a federal jury, sentenced to 10 years in prison and ended up serving eight and a half. Prison will change a person, sometimes for the better and often for the worse, and Saucier was determined not to come out the same person as he came in. During his time, he took advantage of all the counseling and mental health programs available to him. He was eventually singled out by a minister for one-on-one sessions.
“I made a promise to God that if he could get me through this that I would spend the rest of my life giving back,” said Saucier.
Once leaving prison, he kept good on his promise by earning a degree in counseling, sharing his experience though speaking engagements and eventually landing a job at the Crossroads Treatment Center in Lakewood. Hearing and seeing firsthand the suffering that drug and alcohol abuse has on his community has lead Saucier to another goal of opening a full-service center built upon treating addicts in a unique way.
“Some people need 30, 60, 90 days to get to where they need to be. It’s all different,” explained Saucier. “At Hope Recovery Center, we will create a co-occurring facility where we treat both the dependency side and the mental health side.”
The 501c3 nonprofit was formed in 2015, and Saucier, along with other impassioned community members, have been getting the word out and drumming up support through monthly open meetings and discussions with local law enforcement, medical and mental health professionals. All agree—the need for such a facility exists.
“I asked a group of about 100 people to stand if they had been directly impacted by drug or alcohol abuse, and not one person was left sitting,” Saucier said.
Design of the Hope Recovery Center calls for a 50-bed inpatient facility with access to all kinds of experts. Lakebay Community Church has offered up its land on which to build the center, and the organization is currently in the process of getting the building permits approved through Pierce County. Once the permitting is approved, a capital campaign will jump start the project with construction to begin soon after. Designs for the building were done by an architect pro-bono, as was the creation of the 501c3 by an account, saving the organization a great cost.
Saucier is a runner, and he notices just how bad drug abuse in the area is while on his jogs. He has a shoebox full of needles at home that he’s picked up along his route; some he found less than 50-yards from an elementary school.
“Drugs respect no person. It doesn’t matter your gender, race, beliefs, income—they don’t care,” he said.
Through his own personal experience and watching others struggle with their addictions, Saucier sees two issues that he hopes to help resolve as part of the Hope Recovery Center’s treatment program: the effects of abuse at a young age and skill training for those who are ready to join the workforce but might not even have a high school diploma.
“I’ve seen kids that started using heroin at 12 or 13 years old. They have no life or job skills, and the deck is stacked against them from the start,” said Saucier. He says some addicts are scared of becoming clean because they don’t think they could interact and relate to people in the “normal” world. Showing addicts that they are stronger than the drug and that their life has meaning can make all the difference in a person’s life.
“Someone saw value in me, and you cannot put a price tag on any human life,” said Saucier.
Once completed, the Hope Recovery Center will be a place for addicts to receive treatment for their drug or drugs of choice, have access to mental health counselors, be partnered with job trainers and taught skills, and shown the value of a life worth living free of dependency. While there is not a set date for construction, you can receive the latest updates via email by visiting Hope-Recovery.org.