Most of the milestones in Eric Spofford’s life to this point, positive and negative, arrived quickly. He started drinking at age 11, moved to hard drugs by 15, dropped out of school the same year, found recovery at 22, started running the family business right away, then found his calling by 23.
Now 27, Spofford operates as his seven-day pursuit The Granite House, a Derry, N.H. facility that has rapidly grown from an 11-bed sober house to a 42-bed structured extended-care program with a medical director and therapists. “My biggest problem these days is time management, and that’s a blessing,” he says.
About the only event that did not arrive fast in Spofford’s way of thinking was his sobriety, as he spent about five years from ages 17 to 22 in and out of detox facilities and jails and often homeless. “My Higher Power works in mysterious ways; I didn’t get sober in treatment,” he says. “I went through withdrawals on a couch. It was pretty painful but I wouldn’t give it back for the world today.”
Spofford started abusing painkillers around the time OxyContin was just emerging. Today many young males entering his program have fallen victim to misuse of painkillers as well, and in many cases he’s reaching out to individuals not much younger than him. The average age of The Granite House resident is around 23, with the program generally geared to males ages 18 to 35.
“I’m able to earn their trust,” Spofford says of the residents in the all-male program. As for these young men’s parents, “There are some skeptics, but I have two clinicians and a doctor in their 50s here.” Besides, “I’ve earned my stripes,” he says.
Spofford says he strives to teach residents everything that has worked for him in recovery, and that starts with the 12 Steps. His immersion in the 12-Step community also happened quickly for him once he got sober. At The Granite House, the men obtain a sponsor and attend in-house meetings in the four-to-six week Phase 1 of the three-phase program.
Once the men are active in their recovery, they proceed to educational and job-seeking pursuits in Phase 2, where they also are paired with a case manager and work on health and fitness goals and life skills. Once they are out of the first phase where they are restricted to the house, the men attend a variety of group activities ranging from whitewater rafting to paintball. “This isn’t about getting sober and not having a good life,” says Spofford.
Phase 3 then works on reintegrating the individual to independent living, with emphasis on reuniting with family and friends. Spofford adds that The Granite House has a post-graduate monitoring program that involves aftercare group sessions and frequent drug testing.
He says the program offers a middle ground between sober residences with no clinical services and high-end recovery homes that remain out of most families’ financial reach. The Granite House’s fees are $1,950 per month, and Spofford says about half of its revenues come from private insurance. All residents are required to have gone through primary treatment before arriving at the residence.
“We’re geared for the middle class family,” Spofford says. The house is generally attracting individuals from New England and the Mid-Atlantic region, with many prominent treatment centers among its common referral sources, he says.
Spofford’s pivotal decision in 2008 to purchase a piece of investment property in Derry was hardly unusual for a young man who long had an entrepreneurial spirit. “I was the kid who was fixing everybody’s bike at 9 for money,” he says.
Yet that decision, reached only two years after he had been homeless and estranged from most of his loved ones, resulted in moving away from what had been the expected path for Spofford: running the family business in the construction industry. He had been taking over the day-to-day operations of the business from his father in the early stages of his recovery, but his move to buy the multifamily house and open The Granite House started him on a new road. (His father, who he says has been the most influential person in his life, came up with the facility’s name.)
“I walked away at that point from the family company,” Spofford says. Soon he would purchase a second house in Manchester, and later an 1800s Victorian that once served as a rooming house would allow him to consolidate the two operations into one extended-care site (Spofford, ever the entrepreneur, still owns the other two properties as well).
“I have the privilege and honor to come in every day and serve guys who are just like myself,” he says. Anyone can build roads and subdivisions, he reasons.