Caron, Release Recovery Launch LGBTQ Scholarship Program

Nic Pagano Scholarship Fund

The Nic Pagano Scholarship Fund aims to provide quality addiction treatment to those who might not otherwise have access to it

By Veronica L. Holyfield

In an attempt to address gaps in addiction and mental health care, Caron Treatment Centers and Release Recovery Foundation have launched a scholarship program—the Nic Pagano Scholarship Fund—that focuses on providing equitable treatment for those who identify as LGBTQ.

The queer community continues to be an underserved and underrepresented population in the recovery space. At the same time, it suffers high rates of addiction. According to data collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), only a small percentage of addiction treatment programs provide specialized services for LGBTQ people. Through the Nic Pagano Scholarship Fund, Caron and Release Recovery are extending a helping hand.

Nic Pagano’s Legacy

Pagano, an actor and an alumnus of both Caron and Release Recovery, died of an opioid overdose in July 2021. He was a proud gay man who exemplified what it means to be a bridge-builder between the LGBTQ and straight communities. A recent news release announcing the launch of the scholarship program called Pagano “a compassionate go-to in welcoming new clients arriving [to his sober living home] from in-patient treatment.”

In running sober livings and treatment communities, it’s always interesting to see how a group of 10 to 12 straight guys will ‘accept’ someone like Nic, and we had a really powerful experience where he was able to get close with a lot of our clients.”—Zac Clark, Release Recovery Foundation

That inclusive mindset made a real difference, says Zac Clark, cofounder of Release Recovery. “In running sober livings and treatment communities, it’s always interesting to see how a group of 10 to 12 straight guys will ‘accept’ someone like Nic, and we had a really powerful experience where he was able to get close with a lot of our clients,” says Clark, whose foundation serves people in early recovery.

The Caron Component

Clark and his Release Recovery co-founder, Justin Gurland, were drawn to Caron because of its commitment to cultural competency and ongoing training for its treatment professionals, specifically in the area of queer-informed issues. An initial commitment of $200,000 from Release Recovery was made to help financially strapped people in the LGBTQ community access care at Caron.

LGBTQIA+ individuals with substance use disorder are at a greater risk of suicidal ideation and suicide, domestic violence, illness and death. We need to do more, and we are grateful for the support of the Release Recovery Foundation to help make treatment more accessible.”—Phoenix Adams, Caron Treatment Centers

“This treatment scholarship was created to address the tremendous need for improved treatment services for LGBTQIA+ individuals and to honor Nic Pagano, an advocate for the recovery and transgender communities,” says Phoenix Adams, senior vice president of signature programming for Caron. “There is such a need. LGBTQIA+ individuals with substance use disorder are at a greater risk of suicidal ideation and suicide, domestic violence, illness and death. We need to do more, and we are grateful for the support of the Release Recovery Foundation to help make treatment more accessible.”

Top photo: Hannah Busing

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