Planned rehab facility would take a different approach

Bryant “Drew” Andrews, Tara Sanders, David McNamara, Meghan Hetfield, and Stacey Nodelman. (Photo by Robert Hansen-Sturm)

“Learning to stay present and feel your feelings is what will free you from addiction,” said substance abuse counselor, filmmaker and Zen practitioner David McNamara, who speaks from his own experience of recovery. “There’s a lot of evidence behind mindfulness-based therapy. It’s been available to people with money who can travel to Europe or California or go to expensive private retreat centers, but it’s not available to everyone.” McNamara is determined to change that situation.

His project to create an affordable Ulster County rehab facility, based on principles of mindfulness, self-compassion, and harm reduction therapy, is launching this spring with an outreach center in Kingston. A benefit to help fund Samadhi Recovery Outreach Center will star local musician Simi Stone, fresh from touring with David Byrne, the band Two Dark Birds, and comedian Julie Novak, at the Colony in Woodstock on Sunday, January 27, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.


Julie Jakolat will DJ, and drummer Bryant “Drew” Andrews, Executive Director of Kingston’s Center for Creative Education, will prime the crowd for dancing. Tara Sanders of Exhale to Inhale will describe the trauma-informed yoga she plans to teach at Samadhi. Both live and silent auctions will feature products and services offered by local stores and practitioners. 

The outreach center is designed to bring healing services to individuals and families who live with the ravages of addiction. “This touches all of us. We can’t keep losing people to the opioid epidemic,” said Stacey Nodelman, a local mother who is involved in the project. She has been an activist since losing her husband to a heroin overdose.

Three years ago, McNamara was making a film about the opioid epidemic, entitled Disconnected. Two experts he met in the course of filming have joined Samadhi as consultants. Speaker and author Dr. Gabor Maté is known for his work on addiction, stress, and childhood development. Dr. Andrew Tatarsky is a specialist in harm reduction psychotherapy. “It’s all about meeting people where they’re at,” explained McNamara, “as opposed to ‘Once you do drugs again, I abandon you.’ Instead, even if you’re not ready to quit, I’m here to listen.”

When his son’s best friend died of a heroin overdose in Woodstock, McNamara shifted his attention from filmmaking to “dedicating my life to creating a safe place for people suffering from addiction. When people go to rehab, a lot of young people in Woodstock come out after 28 days or three months or nine months, and they have no program. There’s no after-care besides 12-step, and younger people tend not to choose that option.”

His goal is to create a space where people realize they can actually have fun while in recovery. “Life after substance abuse is incredible. There are so many things to do. It’s about developing a well-rounded life, instead of sitting there waiting for it to pass by.” At Samadhi, McNamara plans to teach filmmaking, while others will lead workshops in such subjects as theater and carpentry.  Free services will include basic needs such as laundry and food; recovery coaches; Buddhist-based and 12-Step recovery groups; trauma-informed yoga; counseling; and health and wellness classes. Dance and music will be featured as key components of the center’s programming. Nodelman will teach people how to navigate bills and paperwork.

For now, funding comes from grants, donors, and grass-roots fundraising. Research psychologists will be studying the programs at Samadhi to accumulate evidence that can be presented to New York State for future government funding. McNamara plans to open a residential treatment facility on 76 acres in Oliverea, using the same mindfulness-based therapeutic techniques employed at the outreach center. Also in the works are plans for a holistic detox center.

The January 27 fundraiser will introduce the public to the concepts behind the outreach center, which will open in the spring at 122 Clinton Avenue in midtown Kingston. In addition to the performers, volunteers who will be working at Samadhi will be present to speak about the services they plan to offer and about the personal connections that drew them to get involved. Each of them has dealt with either their own battle with drugs or a family member suffering from addiction — as have nearly all of us these days.

Benefit for Samadhi

A benefit for the Samadhi Recovery Outreach Center will be held at the Colony in Woodstock on Sunday, January 27, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Colony is located at 22 Rock City Road. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door: