ROCKLAND, Maine — A group hoping to help address the prevalence of opioid addiction in midcoast Maine is planning to open a recovery resource center later this month in Rockland.
The Coastal Recovery Community Center, which will not offer clinical services, will be the third center of its kind in the state, with the other two in Bangor and Portland. Midcoast Recovery Coalition, which is collaborating on the center with the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery, is expected to sign a lease for space at the repurposed Lincoln Street Center on Thursday, Feb. 9.
No medical treatment or therapy drugs, such as methadone, will be available at the facility. Instead, it will serve as a counseling and information-gathering place for people affected by drug use to come ask questions or hold meetings and for those seeking a recovery from drug addiction to connect with one another and professionals.
Dr. Ira Mandel of the Midcoast Recovery Coalition said Wednesday that the center will serve a “complementary” purpose to clinical treatment options available elsewhere. It will be a supplemental step on the larger road to recovery and community re-integration, which is crucial for a recovering addict.
The “foundation of recovery is to form healthy relationships with friends, neighbors and the community,” he said. “To enter recovery, you need a safe place (around) safe people.”
There currently are two types of public treatment available in the midcoast area through health care centers: abstinence-based treatment, such as 12-step programs, and medication-assisted treatment, according to Mandel. Whether those visiting the new center might prefer an abstinence-based approach or a clinical one, he said, the center can direct and inform individuals about the breadth of options available to them.
The center will be located in a room 50-by-50-foot room in the former school at the corner of Grove and Lincoln streets, which currently houses the Lincoln Street Center for the Arts. It will be modeled after the Portland Recovery Community Center, Mandel said.
“Our priorities are to work on prevention,” Mandel told Rockland city councilors Monday night.
Knox County reported more than 450 hospitalizations because of opiate overdoses in 2015 — one of the highest rates in the state, along with Cumberland County, according to a 2016 report compiled by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Rockland’s history with clinical treatment centers has been sparse and at times fraught, following the 2012 arrest of the former owner of the Turning Tide methadone clinic who was arrested for operating under the influence and possession of cocaine.
In the last year, the number of physicians in Knox County who are able to treat addiction with prescriptions such as Suboxone increased from one to six, Mandel told councilors. The Midcoast Recovery Coalition itself is just a year old.
The Rockland Metro Treatment Center, which offers methadone treatment options, opened in 2013 at the former Turning Tide location on New County Road. Another clinical treatment option called Groups: Recover Together, which offers patients Suboxone, opened on Camden Street in May.
Although the relative “lack of resources” and support available to those affected in the area has been well known, the new center initially will be open only from 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays, Darren Ripley, coordinator for the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery, said at the Feb. 6 council meeting.
Adding longer hours are cost prohibitive, Ripley said. Operating the center for four hours a day for five days per week will require one full-time staff person to be present, he said. He declined to give specifics about what it will cost to do that.
Overall, “it’s quite a step forward for the community,” Ripley said, but its long-term viability will be contingent on future funding. The hope is that the new center proves successful enough to attract a flow of supplemental funds from outside grants and donors, he added.