HOULTON, Maine — Few would argue that Aroostook County is exempt from the drug and alcohol problems that are prevalent in nearly every community.
But for those individuals struggling with alcohol or drug problems who are also looking for assistance in their recovery path, a new peer center in Houlton could be just the answer.
The Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope, located at 36 North St., has opened its doors in Houlton and is now helping individuals in their recovery. ARCH is a substance abuse recovery peer center located near downtown Houlton.
“A recovery center is not a treatment center,” Becky Miller, a member of Link for Hope, clarified. “We are a place for people who are in recovery or seeking recovery. We are a place they can come to receive support.”
Miller, along with fellow Link for Hope board members Trudy Rairdon and Eileen McLaughlin has worked tirelessly to bring a recovery center the Shiretown to help youths and adults in southern Aroostook with alcohol and drug problems.
“One thing we are not is an overnight center,” Rairdon said. “We wanted this place to be welcoming. Sometimes people may be here with their children or other family members and we did not want it to be a scary place.”
Rairdon said the organization conducted a community-wide forum, which included a number of focus groups, and the near unanimous recommendation from participants was that the community needed a recovery center.
Link For Hope worked on the matter for years and a year ago, the group was informed they had received a five-year state grant to open two peer-run recovery centers in Aroostook County. That grant was spearheaded by the Aroostook Mental Health Center. A similar home opened in December in Caribou.
Houlton’s center is modeled after the Bangor Area Recovery Network, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
The Houlton ARCH facility will feature one full-time staff member, James Boyce, who is a recovering addict. Boyce will serve as a peer support specialist, coordinating meetings and offering counsel to those in need.
“We hope to be a venue for various recovery meetings,” Boyce said. “We are also a place where individuals can come in and get support for their addictions. We help connect people to the resources that are available to them.”
A local recovery center has been a long-standing need in Southern Aroostook County, Miller said.
“Before, people would leave the community for treatment, or get sober when they are in jail, but then they come back and fall back into their old habits because they have not developed any healthy peer support,” she said. “Everybody needs socialization.”
“The biggest deficit in this area is that we do not have any sort of treatment/detox facility in the area,” McLaughlin added. “If someone comes in here, though, they can be referred to places for treatment.”
ARCH will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The hope is that volunteers will come forward to assist with staffing at the Houlton location, so that longer hours could be added.
The group is planning an open house celebration 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14. For information, visit the group’s Facebook page.