For Jessica Bourque, aged 22 of Peabody, MA, her story of opiate addiction started with a Percocet to relieve a toothache, but it wasn't long before she spiraled into heroin addiction that stole her life away. After a stint in a Danvers detox center, Jessica, blessed with the physical and emotional support of her caring mother, made the life-changing decision to get a recovery bed at Pegasus House in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Today, Jessica is a recovered graduate of Pegasus House's comprehensive substance abuse treatment program. The harrowing years she spent as an opioid addict did little to interfere with her compassionate and empathetic nature and Jessica now works full time as a recovery specialist, using her past harsh experiences to help young women like herself overcome this non-discriminating disease and achieve long-term sobriety.
Established in 1985 and managed by the Lawrence non-profit agency The Psychological Center whose CEO is Carina Pappalardo, the residential treatment facility Pegasus House is committed to motivating, educating and assisting young women aged 18 to 25 who are ready to begin their recovery journey, so that they can get their lives back as rightfully deserved. Focused on personalized, competent care provided by a highly trained and qualified staff of clinicians, Pegasus House offers a comprehensive opiate addiction treatment program in a warm, serene and homey environment that encourages behavioral and attitudinal changes as key ingredients for a healthy, drug free lifestyle. With a mounting endemic of opioid dependence in the Merrimack Valley and across the state of Massachusetts, the vast majority of young women residents in Pegasus House are opiate addicts committed to achieve lifelong recovery for both themselves and their loved ones.
Built in 1925, the striking two-story house painted in a relaxing and soothing shade of blue with starkly white trim and color-rich stained glass windows boasts 15 recovery beds exclusively for female adults ages 18 to 25 and four bathrooms. Encouraged to cooperate with one another for the purpose of learning the set of basic, necessary life skills needed to care for themselves and develop healthy relationships within the community, clients share bedrooms, prepare grocery lists and actively participate in daily household chores such as cooking and cleaning.
Although Jessica Bourque initially disliked the chores, family-style dinners, group therapy sessions and everything else about the Pegasus house, she soon realized that this residential treatment program was exactly what she needed to complete her recovery from opiate addiction and get her life back on the right track. Provided with professional support and guidance for personal growth and autonomy, clients are given the opportunity to develop the ability for positive and adaptive behavior that enables them to effectively deal with the challenges and demands of everyday life. Practicing life skills create the premises to effectively learn problem solving, communication, time management, organizational and social skills, while boosting self-esteem and amiability.
The average length of stay at Pegasus House is 4-6 months, depending on the clients' individual needs. According to Carina Pappalardo, some women return to Pegasus House for continued support, especially in cases of relapse after graduation or drop-out. Clients are given multiple vocational or educational opportunities while staying at Pegasus House and are encouraged to take college classes, job training classes or pursue their GED. Likewise, they can use the Career Center at Valley Works to develop a resume and apply for various alternative certificate programs.