BREWER, Maine — The BARN doors are open.
The Bangor Area Recovery Network, a nonprofit organization formed two years ago to address drug and alcohol addiction, has purchased and renovated the former Pam’s Furniture site at 142 Center St., and is holding a grand opening at noon on Wednesday.
“There is a lot of symbolism with the date we chose,” Shawn Yardley, a BARN board member and director of Bangor’s Department of Health and Community Services, said Monday. “It’s between Thanksgiving and a gift-giving holiday. We’re thankful of being sober, and many people think sobriety is the best gift we gave ourselves and the people around us.
“It was meant to be,” he said. “And it’s an easy date to remember — 12 noon on 12/12/12.”
The 7000-square foot BARN, which opened a month ago, provides a place for those in recovery to get services, get involved in activities or to just hang out in a drug- and alcohol-free environment that is comfortable, Yardley said.
“It is a place for people to celebrate sobriety and living drug-free,” he said. “There are 21 or so 12-step groups that offer meetings there,” and other groups that offer “pathways to recovery.”
“In many respects, the BARN is really a place for anyone, regardless of how they found their way to recovery,” Yardley said.
Local and state dignitaries, some who work with those affected by addiction and others who have shown support, are expected at the grand opening, he said, adding they symbolize the importance of the programs offered.
BARN board Chair Jean Baker; Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew; Michelle Hood, president and CEO of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems; Ken Schmidt, Penobscot Community Health Care’s chief executive officer; St. Joseph Hospital emergency department medical director, Dr. Charles Pattavina; and others are scheduled to speak during the grand opening.
A state-sponsored report six years ago basically said the annual economic impact of addition in Penobscot County is around $1 million, Yardley said, adding that every $1 spent on prevention and treatment saves $4,on average.
“People can see the headlines and see their own families and the cost of addiction,” he said, mentioning recent pharmacy and drug possession stories in the Bangor area. “I like to think of this as the good side of that story.”