Bringing Substance Abuse Treatment to the KP


Sara Thompson

Jeremiah Saucier has a dream. As director of Crossroads Treatment Center, a chemical dependency and treatment facility in Lakewood, he sees firsthand the need for a holistic approach to treatment of substance abuse. And as a resident of the Key Peninsula, he knows that most families in this community have been touched by this problem.

For those reasons, Saucier founded Hope Recovery Center (HRC) in 2015 with a five-member board and a large group of advisers. He said HRC is applying for nonprofit status and plans to establish a treatment center on the Key Peninsula.

The HRC business plan states: "The Key Peninsula is considered underserved and high-risk in the areas of methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol and prescription-drug abuse. There is also a significant need for mental health services in the area as evidenced by the high percentage of clients from these areas who have to wait extended periods of time for services in the surrounding areas of Tacoma, Gig Harbor or Port Orchard."

Saucier said he wants a local center to treat substance abuse and assure long-term success. There are often coexisting mental health issues confronting clients and many do not have the life skills they need to succeed once they have completed their drug treatment program.

For that reason, Saucier said he envisions a combined chemical dependency professional and mental health therapist team approach, with referrals to proper medical, dental and legal professionals. HRC plans a 50-bed residential treatment program on the KP, along with extensive outpatient services.

Under the current plan, outpatient programs could start after 30 days of inpatient treatment and would likely last 60 to 90 days. Programs would include follow-up for the residential treatment clients; individual adult, youth and family counseling; domestic violence treatment and programs to address anger management and parenting skills. Saucier said he would like to add hands-on job training as well, such as carpentry, masonry and gardening, and financial courses that would allow clients to return to their communities with a high likelihood of success.

Much remains to be done, Saucier said. A site needs to be located, continued community support will be sought and money needs to be raised. HRC estimated it needs more than $3.5 million to open its doors.

Saucier has spoken with local leaders, including Pierce County Councilman Derek Young, Larry Seaquist and Hugh McMillan. He has met with the local Lions Club and the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club as well as the Key Peninsula Community Council. He said they have all been supportive.

Saucier said local residents might see a need for a facility but also express a "not in my backyard" sentiment.

"Crossroads, the treatment center in Lakewood, has been located across the street from a high school since 2008, and we have never had a problem," he said. "If clients aren’t serious about recovery, they won’t be here. But they deserve a chance to stabilize and gain life skills."

Saucier has experience overcoming barriers. In 1998, he was arrested for his role in a methamphetamine ring in Virginia and spent eight years in federal prison. His marriage ended and relationships with his three children suffered. However, he vowed to be a different man by the end of his term. He moved to Tacoma to be closer to his sister and became involved with A New Beginning Family Christian Center, where he met his wife, Lila. He attended Olympic College and earned a degree in chemical dependency counseling.

Fundraising begins with a baseball game July 23 at Volunteer Park with the Pierce County Sheriff and Gig Harbor Police facing the Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor fire departments. "Guns and Hoses," as it's called, begins at 1 p.m. followed by a spaghetti feed at the KP Civic Center with speakers, an art auction and raffle. All donations will go to support the Hope Recovery Center.