PEER-LED ADDICTION RECOVERY CENTERS ABOUND IN MASS., BUT UNTIL NOW THERE HASN’T BEEN A SINGLE ONE WEST OF I-91

BY TIFFANY TAN

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20TH, 2018

MASSLIVE

Berkshire County’s first peer-led addiction recovery center opened in Pittsfield Friday afternoon, the state’s only recovery support center west of the Interstate 91 corridor.

Living in Recovery, housed at the George B. Crane Memorial Center at 81 Linden St., aims to help people permanently break free from addiction through community support.

Like other recovery support centers, Living in Recovery’s programming and activities will be shaped by its members. But several are already on the calendar, such as creative writing workshops, guided meditations, community hikes, family movie nights, as well as recovery meetings that are open to a member’s relatives and friends.

“We wanna build a bridge from early recovery to long-term recovery,” Joe Buyse, program director of Living in Recovery, said. “And quality of life is essential.”

It’s common to see people in the initial stages of recovery relapsing, which could lead to their cycling in and out of detox or treatment centers, Buyse said. Living in Recovery has¬†“coaches” to help people navigate everyday life challenges that could trip them up, such as finding a job and housing.

Though the opioid epidemic is in the forefront of discussions about addiction – state officials have confirmed 1,909 opioid-related deaths in 2017, nearly triple the rate in 2007 – Living in Recovery wants to help battle not just substance addictions. The center can provide resources and referrals to those suffering from addictions like gambling, tobacco, pornography, food and the internet.

There are 10 existing state-funded recovery support centers in Massachusetts, the westernmost of which are in Holyoke and Greenfield.¬†These centers, which Buyse describes as being on the “I-91 corridor,” include a locally and privately funded one in Northampton.

A program of the nonprofit organization ServiceNet, Living in Recovery is dedicated to the memory of Joseph R. Botz, a Pittsfield man who died last year at 45 after struggling with alcoholism.

Botz’s mother and stepfather, Donna and Dave Darcy, donated $145,000 in their desire “to be part of establishing services to help people who were in recovery,” said Jay Sacchetti, senior vice president with ServiceNet.

Other funders included the state department of public health, which provided $27,000 for startup costs such as computers and furniture.

ServiceNet, which offers mental health and human services throughout western Massachusetts, has long seen a need for a recovery support center in the Berkshires. The nonprofit had asked the state to fund one in 2014, but the effort failed.

There are 10 existing state-funded recovery support centers in Massachusetts, the westernmost of which are in Holyoke and Greenfield.

The Massachusetts budget for 2019 provides money for five additional state-funded recovery support centers, Sacchetti said, and ServiceNet intends to propose that Living in Recovery become one of them.

The center’s current funding will last two years, Sacchetti said.

Inside one of the rooms was a painting of a huge, leafy tree, dedicated to Botz.

Around 2 p.m. Friday, dozens of people gathered in front of the George B. Crane Memorial Center for a ceremony to mark the opening of Living in Recovery. That afternoon, volunteers were giving a tour of the recovery support center’s rooms on the second floor, which featured big windows and inspirational lines written on the wall.

Another recovery support center in the Berkshires is anticipated to open in North Adams sometime this month. The Beacon Recovery Community Center, at The Green on 85 Main St., will be offering services for people coping with alcohol and drug addiction, according to organizers.

“Long-term recovery not only can happen, but it does happen,” said Buyse, who describes himself as living in recovery from alcohol. “It happens a lot.”

For more information on Living in Recovery’s programming and activities, call (413) 320-35456.

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