PORTLAND, Maine — Editor's note: The video above aired in March.
In late March, Portland's Milestone Recovery temporarily closed its detoxification center due to a staffing shortage. Nearly four months later, the Portland-based nonprofit will reopen its detox center on Monday, June 21.
“We’re excited not only about re-opening the Detox, but also about the potential to expand it in the near future,” Milestone Recovery Executive Director Oliver Bradeen said in a release. “Last weekend alone we received 312 calls from people looking for treatment. That’s more people than were in my high school graduating class at Camden Hills, all of them desperate for medical treatment, and unable to find it. It’s truly heartbreaking not to be able to help, so the added capacity can’t come soon enough.”
A number of individual donors, foundations, and community groups came together along with the state to make the reopening possible. Maine Director of Opioid Response Gordon Smith said Milestone Recovery is "a critical part of the continuum of treatment services needed as Maine continues to respond to the opioid/substance use disorder epidemic."
Detox centers provide medical care to treat the symptoms of withdrawal from addictive substances. Medical detox is an essential first step in addiction recovery, since serious withdrawal, particularly from alcohol, can be life-threatening.
Milestone’s detoxification program is southern Maine’s only independent, nonprofit detox program. Bradeen said it typically provides care to 1,500 Mainers a year.
"Detoxification services are incredibly limited in the state," Bradeen said, "and while I want to reopen as soon as possible, I want to reopen in a sustainable way that prevents us from closing again. 2020 into 2021 with COVID-19 had us open and closed several times which I do not want to repeat for the rest of 2021."
Starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, Milestone Recovery nursing staff will offer screenings for same-day admission to the facility. Clients seeking services at Milestone can contact the nursing department at 207-775-4790, ext. 111. Available spaces in the program are expected to fill early in the day due to the growing demand for these services.
The facility worked to recruit a number of new employees during it's closure. Milestone also made changes to its program policies to streamline the client intake process.
Speaking to NEWS CENTER Maine in March, Bradeen said the staffing shortages began around the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. Bradeen said they could not operate the detox center with so few nurses and that's what led them to suspend services.
Milestone’s emergency homeless shelter, residential treatment program, women’s recovery house, and HOME Team outreach program, have remained open during the detox closure.
To apply for a nursing position at Milestone, click here.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance addiction, here are some resources to get help:
The video below aired in March.