A New Hampshire man who lost his daughter to a drug overdose was invited to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Doug Griffin of Newton, New Hampshire, has been on a mission to create safe communities for those in addiction recovery since his daughter, Courtney, died from a fentanyl overdose at just 20 years old.
Biden referenced Griffin in the audience, saying, "He told us he wants to start a journey toward American recovery. Doug, we're with you. Fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year."
The message and call to action generated a bipartisan standing ovation. Griffin and his wife, Pam, say the experience was a surreal one.
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"The work that we do," he said. "We don't get paid. This is a pretty good paycheck, just to be able to be heard and have our story told and to get the response."
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For years, he has focused on creating recovery-friendly communities, including congregations, workplaces and affordable living situations. He has worked with groups like The Good Samaritan Network in Manchester.
"There's data that suggests that when faith is a component of the recovery process, recovery can be more successful," said Ashley Therrien, development director of The Good Samaritan Network. "We have a vision that has four areas of focus: workplaces, congregations, schools and housing."
Since Jan. 1, Manchester has seen 11 suspected overdose deaths, including seven in just the last week. Strike teams are now going out into the community to help with outreach and connect people to the resources the need.
"Most people don't know who to go to how to ask for help," said Lauren McCormack, the executive director of The Good Samaritan Network. "We want to make sure we're opening that door for them."
"You know, we we grieve, Courtney," Pam Griffin said. "However, we know that we're helping people. They do listen. People do listen. And the word does get out. So it's a positive thing. We're happy that it's getting attention."