Governor: My name is Arnold P., and I’m a recovering addict; I personally know recovery happens

By Troy Torres and Vickilyn Manglona Teregeyo

Jaws dropped at a ceremony packed with recovering addicts and those who help them as the CNMI governor told the crowd he was once a drug addict, and that is how he knows recovery is possible.

Arnold Palacios, explaining that every  year he attends recovery events and he listens to the courageous testimonies of others, said he pledged to himself that one day he would tell the public his story. While he did not go into details and he did not explain what drug caused him to seek help from narcotics anonymous years ago, he did say:

“My name is Arnold P., and I’m a recovering addict …  I am now in recovery for 25 years.”

The crowd cheered for the governor.

“Many of our members fell, lost their way,” he said, referring to his fellow citizens who have tried to lead sober lives. “And somehow we were able to, with family support, community support. Sometimes you get nudged from the court, and sometimes it’s incarceration into recovery,” the governor said, making the point that the path to recovery is difficult, and that is why he is an avid supporter of the CNMI’s drug court, and the office of Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Rehabilitation (SAAR), along with the volunteers, family, and other private support systems who help people in recovery.

SAAR coordinated the event as a soft opening for its community outreach office in Chalan Kanoa, where the event was held, along with the proclamation of Reentry Week.

The U.S. Department of Justice, through its National Reentry Resource Center uses the term “Reentry” to describe the assistance local programs give to prisoners and newly released correctional inmates in order for them to become productive citizens.

Substance Abuse, Addition, and Rehabilitation special assistant Diego Sablan poses proudly with his boss, Governor Arnold Palacios after the governor gave his testimony about his personal recovery from drug addiction.

“When they avail to the Re-Entry Program, they are either still in prison finishing their sentence or they just got released,” Charlotte Flores of SAAR told Kandit. “Then we help them with what they need to have some stability in their lives through home placement, education, and employment.”

SAAR is the only organization in the CNMI with a reentry program, according to Ms. Flores. The program coordinates with the Department of Corrections for the inmates to receive reentry services.

“It is very critical,” Governor Palacios said of the program. “I went through the program, for those of you that didn’t know. I experienced recovery. I was in a facility for 30 days, and when I came out I went right back. And so, six months later I decided I’m gonna give it another chance. And with the support of family I did it for another three months, so 90 days. And then I stayed away from Saipan for a while. Got a job. But when I came home, thanks to AA and a small narcotics anonymous program that were run by people like myself – like ourselves – and I tell you, I used to go to AA and NA three times a week. Because I was afraid. I was totally afraid of myself.”

Recovery is possible, the governor said. It happens, and he is 25 years of testimony to that hope for so many families afflicted by the scourge of drugs.



The authors of this story are both recovering drug addict

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