There was another meeting in Danvers Thursday night as residents and town leaders gathered to discuss the plan to convert the former Hunt Hospital property into a substance abuse treatment center. About 50 people gathered to discuss concerns that included traffic, safety and the overall impact on the neighborhood.
The recent report from the Governor’s Opiate Task Force has clearly documented the need for additional services like this in our communities.
Recovery Centers of America (RCA) a new organization specializing in owning and operating substance abuse treatment programs has proposed a 220 bed inpatient and outpatient treatment program at the 75 Lindall Street property. RCA’s mission is:
To provide education, treatment and recovery support for Substance Use and Mental Health disorders in every neighborhood in America.
Their goal is to “get 1 million Americans into meaningful recovery”. Unfortunately, not everyone wants this in their neighborhood. One of the local residents, stated “I don’t think there will be a positive impact for us from this facility”.
Deni Carise, Ph. D. is the clinical leader at RCA. Dr. Carise, a Clinical Psychologist, previously served as Deputy Clinical Director at CRC Health Corp. She is also an Adjunct Clinical Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Psychiatry. Prior to coming to CRC Health Corp, she completed a 3-year contract as Chief Clinical Officer at Phoenix House Foundation. Before her contract with Phoenix House she was the Director of the Treatment Systems Research Section at the Philadelphia-based Treatment Research Institute (TRI) where she had been employed since 1994.
Dr. Carise writes a blog for the Huffington Post. In a June posting, she indirectly addressed what is happening in Danvers: “… communities aren’t shy about holding rallies and storming city zoning meetings to protest the opening of addiction treatment facilities near them. Yes — the NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) are out in full force. Experts say addiction is a disease, but sadly, in this country, it’s treated more like a plague.”
The NIMBY effect is also alive and well in Wenham where the townspeople are working hard to stop another facility from opening at Penguin Hall, the former headquarters of Mullen Advertising. It also was in full force two years ago when a plan to open a methadone maintenance program in nearby Salem was brought to a halt by neighborhood opposition.
In her blog, Dr. Carise asks: “So tell me where the risk is? There’s no evidence of increased crime or violence in neighborhoods with treatment programs. I agree, it is a valid question to ask, but the data just don’t support the claims.” Further in Carise’s blog, a treatment clinic director is noted as responding to this perspective in the New York Times, stating, “Never mind your backyard. [Addiction is] probably in your living room. You just haven’t figured it out yet.” In truth, this is an issue in every community.”
Unfortunately, your addicted neighbors are not about to out themselves in a town meeting to support needed services. As long as addiction is seen as a plague and not a disease the risk of shame and stigma is just too great to speak about it openly.