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Berkshire Providers To Expand Addiction Services

Like much of the country, western Massachusetts is dealing with a substantial increase in opioid and substance abuse that is taxing existing services. Now two area care providers are seeking to expand their capabilities to deal with the epidemic.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently approved a 30-bed, long-term recovery unit at Berkshire Medical Center for people suffering from opioid and substance abuse addiction in Pittsfield. The new unit is designed to stabilize patients after an initial detox program at places like BMC’s McGee Recovery Center. Dr. Alex Sabo chairs BMC’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. He says the Clinical Stabilization Services unit will be the first of its kind in Berkshire County.

“After a detox, which might take three to five days, a patient then in the past might be going back out into an environment where they would get less support or they might be exposed to other people using alcohol or drugs,” said Sabo.

The next closest unit is The Hope Center in Springfield, about an hour away. The new CSS Unit will offer behavioral health education along with individual and group counseling, according to its director, Shannon McCarthy, who also leads the 21-bed McGee Recovery Center which has an average occupancy of 18.

“There will be eight hours of educational groups that will consist of 12 steps – brain functioning, relapse prevention, seeking safety, anxiety reduction, acupuncture, music, art and pet therapy,” McCarthy said. “There will be wellness groups and the nurses will be doing groups on HIV, AIDS and hepatitis.”

People can stay in the CSS Unit for up to 30 days. Care coordinators will be assigned to help people transition out of the unit by setting up outpatient treatment plans and connecting those patients with primary care doctors, housing options and employment or education assistance. BMC will be hiring 22 people to staff the unit. An opening date has not been set.

»Read the full article at WAMC.org