One of Berkshire County's first peer-led addiction recovery centers is opening in North Adams next month.

The Berkshire Eagle reports volunteers with the recently established Beacon Recovery Community Center will begin offering support services for coping with alcohol and drug addiction at The Green on 85 Main St., according to organizers. They will be around every Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but have not yet determined their start date.

The center's initial services will include recovery coaching and resources for family and friends of people suffering from addiction, said one of the peer volunteers, Terry Joy, who is himself recovering from alcohol addiction.

Addiction, particular to opioids, has been a particularly vexing problem in the Berkshires and across the state.

According to figures from the state Department of Health, from 2000 to 2017, there have been 223 drug overdose deaths in Berkshire County. There were 27 last year and 38 in 2016.

Like other recovery community centers in the state, the Beacon center's programs will be led and decided by its members, said Barbara Reeves, another peer volunteer who said she is recovering from alcoholism.

More than anything, the organizers want to create a space that would help lessen the stigma of being an addict, which they say stands in the way of recovery.

"It takes courage to put yourself out there as a peer,"Mayor Bernard said.

Wendy Penner said only 12 percent of people who need treatment actually get it for reasons that include the shame of addiction, financial expense and lack of access to a treatment facility.

The Beacon was designed as a resource center and won't be offering treatment or medication, she said. It's a place where people can seek their "purpose" and "community," rather than a drop-in center where people just hang out.

The center has been established to serve Northern Berkshire, but it will be open to anyone who walks through the door, organizers said. Anyone who comes intoxicated, or who compromises the safety of others, will be asked to come back another day, organizers said.

Another Berkshire County recovery community center is being opened at The Crane Center in Pittsfield.

Information about the center will also be provided at the "Voices for Recovery" vigil, rally and walk in North Adams on Saturday. The event,  begins at 1 p.m. at Colegrove Park, aims to raise awareness about opioid addiction and recovery resources, celebrate people's recovery and commemorate those who have died from addiction.

Gary Pratt, who works in substance abuse treatment at Berkshire Medical Center's Clinical Stabilization Services program, will give the keynote speech.

There are currently 10 state-funded community recovery centers in Massachusetts, Penner said. The Beacon Center, which isn't among them, is seeking a $60,000 grant to support its operation during its first year.



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