NIMBYS – The Empty Chair Show – By Phil Lahey

empty chairBy: Phi Lahey – March, 2014

For those of you who don’t know what that stands for, it means “Not in My Backyard”. Lately there has been much media attention on heroin and addiction in general. I think people are starting to realize we are facing an epidemic that touches every city and town in America. With the large number of people being affected, there is now a great shortage of recovery beds.

It is time for each community to step up and provide recovery housing in their area. I think most people would agree there is a need, as long as it’s not in their back yard. I don’t blame them for their concerns. The argument has been made that if you have a recovery house in your area, it will attract addicts and dealers. The fact of the matter is that most recovery homes are located in areas that already have a high rate of drug use. Although, located in areas of this type, they still tend to be very successful. It seems dealers and addicts tend to avoid these places.

Many of you might say why should we believe you, the father of a recovering heroin addict? That’s a fair question! Please do some research and you just might find that addicts in recovery are some of the nicest people you could ever meet. They have such gratitude and compassion that many of us could only hope to achieve.

My daughter and I do a series of shows about addiction and recovery, where many of our guests are addicts in recovery. I ask you to listen to their stories, get to know some of these addicts that have been saved by getting treatment. Go to “YouTube” and search Theemptychairshow. You will be amazed to hear their stories. They work so hard and we are so proud of each and every one of them. Now is the time for communities to be responsible for their own! In the future, our drug task force will be looking into ways that local communities can learn about the process of finding and funding recovery housing.

I’m asking all of you who are interested in saving the lives of our children and young adults to please contact me. Also those of you who think I’m full of beans, please contact me. I don’t expect to convince everyone, but I would like to hear from those of you who disagree. I believe I can learn a great deal from listening to people on the other side of the fence.

I would like to leave you with one last positive thought. The whole criminal justice system is taking a new approach to the war on drugs. Sheriff Cousins, Chief Joe Solomon, Judge Michael Brooks and so many others realize they are locking up the same individuals time after time. A majority of the people sent to jail are committing crimes to support their drug habit. People in the criminal justice system now know the best way to cut crime is not only punish them for the crime, but also get them some treatment so they will not continue to be repeat offenders. Oh by the way, it is significantly less expensive housing addicts in recovery than housing addicts in jail. Therefore, many in the system are pleading for more recovery beds.

Our drug task force for the Merrimack Valley meets every month. In addition to working toward getting more recovery homes, we will continue to educate ourselves and the public by offering information and resources to aid in the prevention of drug addiction.

We are a great group of people from all walks of life who belong to this task force. We invite all of you with an interest to become involved by joining our task force. All are welcome! Till next month…..

Phil Lahey is a former Methuen City Councilor and a former City Council President. He is the host of “the Empty Chair Show on Methuen Cable Access, you can email him at