After several months of scouring Greater Bangor for a suitable location for the center, Wellspring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, a residential and outpatient services program in Bangor, has found one at 646 Main Road North in Hampden, according to Suzanne Farley, the organization’s executive director.
The detox center in Hampden would be among only two of its kind in Maine. The other one is the Milestone Foundation, a 41-bed facility in Portland.
“It’s a really highly needed program,” Farley said.
In 2016, Maine saw an average of more than one drug overdose death per day, setting a third consecutive all-time record.
Wellspring received $1,167,000 from the state in October of last year to open a residential social setting detoxification center, where people addicted to opiates, alcohol and anti-anxiety drugs can begin their journey toward recovery.
The center first needs to be licensed by the state as a substance abuse and mental health facility, undergo an inspection by the state fire marshal’s office and obtain a certificate of occupancy from the town. If all goes according to plan, Farley expects that the center will be open by October or November.
The unit would be located in one of the two attached buildings on the property, which also houses 15 apartment units and is located in a business district, according to a report prepared for the Hampden Planning Board. The planning board approved a conditional-use permit and site plan for the building owner, Sky Villa LLC, at its public hearing on Wednesday night.
Finding a suitable spot for the center proved challenging, in part because of some landlords’ misunderstanding of or distaste for detox facilities and because many of the buildings it looked at did not meet fire code requirements.
One building Wellspring examined lacked sprinkler systems. Another was just slightly too small. A third had windows too small to comply with fire codes. Many others were too big, too small and were not located in the right planning zones.
At the detox center, people will receive medication to help cope with withdrawal, meet in groups with others recovering from addiction, get referrals to area programs to continue in their recovery, as well as medical and psychiatric services. People struggling to recover from an addiction can spend three to five days or sometimes longer, if needed.
People staying there will be referred by emergency rooms, freeing up valuable hospital space, time and resources.
“People won’t be coming in off the streets,” Farley said. “The only way that they can come into the detox center will be through the emergency rooms, either Eastern Maine [Medical Center] or St. Joseph Hospital.”
The board advocated for the detox center as part of the addiction treatment system that Wellspring, area hospitals and other health care organizations are working to build, Hamilton said.
The need for a detox facility in Greater Bangor was identified several years ago, she said.
“People were detoxing on the street, at homes or in jail and sometimes they end up in the ER. It all depends. But none of those places are really appropriate,” she said.
Farley said the center will employ four full-time staffers and a variety of part-timers to cover overnight shifts.
After detox, Wellspring will work with patients to determine their next steps, depending on the level of care needed, Farley said. If they need to go into a residential treatment facility, they will be placed on a waiting list.
Wellspring will be working with Penobscot Community Health Care, which will conduct rounds at the clinic three times per week and will have a staff member on call for emergencies.
Wellspring also plans to work closely with the Bangor Area Recovery Network, or BARN, and others in the recovery community who can serve as peer coaches.