The Triangle Club in Dover celebrated its grand reopening in January after undergoing four months of re-construction. The club hosts meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous and was the first in the state to host Heroin Anonymous meetings.
Today, it is home to 44 12-step recovery meetings, but it was the Heroin Anonymous meetings that literally blew the roof off the club.
So many people were showing up for the Heroin Anonymous meetings that the Triangle Club had to add a second floor, according to Sandra Jalbert, a member of the Triangle Club board of directors. Today, you can find a Heroin Anonymous meeting there almost every day.
"On a typical Tuesday night, we get 75 to 125 people coming to Heroin Anonymous," said Jalbert. "There is an urgency in those meetings. They know if they don't come here, they can die."
The Triangle Club rents meeting space for nominal rates, but is not affiliated with the groups. Still, there is an atmosphere that the people are all there to help each other.
The Triangle Club as been operated by volunteers since it began 34 years ago, Jalbert said. "We had the first Heroin Anonymous meeting here in February 2015," Jalbert said.
Fifty-two people showed up looking for Heroin Anonymous that first snowy night. That's when they knew the space had to grow, she said. One year later at the meeting's anniversary, all of the original 52 people were still alive, Jalbert said.
The Triangle Club doors are open 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., 365 days a year.
"Dover in its own way has become a recovery community with the Bonfire House and Sober Sisters Recovery," Jalbert said.
Sober Sisters Recovery provides transitional housing for women coming from inpatient treatment in nearby Somersworth. And Bonfire Recovery Services is a 12-Step/abstinence-based men's sober living halfway house in downtown Dover that was founded by people living in long-term recovery.
It's all about the people, according to Jalbert. She talked about the many people who show up for meetings. One day, a 19-year old girl passed out in the Triangle Club parking lot with a bottle of wine. It was a freezing cold day and they were able to help her get warm and reunite her with her sister.
"Another day last week we had a van with four guys, heroin addicts who had been sober anywhere from two days to two weeks...
"They showed up in a van. They looked pretty rough and fortunately we were here to have a meeting with them," Jalbert said.
On another day, a 50-year-old woman brought her two daughters to a meeting because she had just lost her sister to an overdose. "They didn't know where else to go," Jalbert said.
What started in Dover has been growing fast. Heroin Anonymous meetings have sprung up across the state.
Across New Hampshire from Seabrook to Berlin to Nashua and elsewhere there are 19 Heroin Anonymous meetings.
Paige B., 21, was a guest speaker at the Triangle Club reopening. A member of Heroin Anonymous, she also uses Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. How did she find sobriety?
"My way out was through complete abstinence and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous," Paige said.
"I loved heroin more than I loved my own family. I would do whatever I needed to do to get what I needed," Paige said. "It brought me to a really bad, not fun place."
She said she started going to the Triangle Club.
At the club, she was introduced to the 12 steps. "It was the first place I ever opened the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, my first Heroin Anonymous meeting. I always could come here if I didn't know where else to go," Paige said.
It turned her life around. She said Heroin Anonymous uses the same 12 steps as Alcoholics Anonymous.
"Today I am free from the obsession to use heroin," Paige said. "I woke up this morning and didn't have a thought in my mind to go get high or how am I going to get money to get high."
"Through coming to meetings and working with a sponsor, I have a relationship with my family," Paige said.
"I didn't know how to stop. It was places like this and people to support me that saved my life and hopefully I will never have to go back to what I was doing. It is definitely a better way to live and this is possible for anyone."
Heroin Anonymous is self-supporting but charges no membership fees. They accept donations from members, and they decline outside contributions. More information about Heroin Anonymous can be obtained here: (603) 331-4783 www.heroinanonymousnh.org