Creating Connections Expansion

Services Expand to Manchester, Nashua, and Rochester for Youth with Substance Use and Co-occurring Disorders

Creating Connections NH is expanding Alternative Peer Groups (APGs), which offer youth with substance use and co-occurring disorders weekly opportunities to engage in fun, substance-free activities while developing health and wellness strategies and building relationships to maintain their recovery. The APGs are led by young adults with lived experience in Recovery, who are trained to help young people maintain recovery while navigating stressors of adolescence and emerging adulthood. Since 2018, the NH Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health and the Institute on Disability at UNH have been working together through the Creating Connections NH Project to build a continuum of care for youth and young adults ages 12-25.

According to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, over 26% of New Hampshire high school students smoke marijuana, 14% binge drink, and 33% use electronic vaping products. Peer and family supports contribute to reducing substance use recurrence, increasing the likelihood of positive outcomes, and helping to build resilience and a sense of community for both the youth and families impacted by substance use.  Creating Connections NH is working to develop a continuum of youth peer support services in collaboration with Revive Recovery Center, Hope for NH Recovery, and Live Free Recovery.

"I was 16 when I was involved in a drunk driving accident," says an APG participant. "Live Free guided me through the challenges of early recovery as a teenager. I am so grateful for the opportunities they have provided me."

Alternative Peer Groups combat the stigma of recovery, help vulnerable youth and families reconnect with their community, and build supports critical to maintaining recovery. Starting June 2021, Revive Recovery Center in Nashua, NH will offer APG activities for middle and high school youth every Friday from 5-6 p.m. and a Parenting in Recovery group on Fridays from 4-5 p.m. Hope for NH Recovery in Manchester will offer Saturday APG activities from 10-12 p.m. Live Free Recovery, located in Newton, NH will begin expanding their AGP and family support programming into the Rochester NH area.

For more information on Creating Connections NH Alternative Peer Groups contact Heidi Cloutier at or 228-2084 x 41.

Creating Connections NH is a federally-funded project to develop and implement a system of care for youth (ages 12-25) with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and co-occurring mental health disorders and SUD (COD).  Creating Connections NH is a partnership between the NH Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health, the Greater Nashua Mental Health, the Institute on Disability, and the Human Service Research Institute.

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire was established in 1987 to provide a university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Its mission is to promote full access, equal opportunities, and participation for all persons by strengthening communities and advancing policy and systems change, promising practices, education, and research.