Portland will soon have 22 additional detox beds for people seeking treatment for substance use disorders.

Pine Tree Recovery Center is set to open Wednesday on Bishop Street in the Morrill’s Corner neighborhood.

“I really feel like Portland is my home, and bringing something like this here is pretty special to me,” said John Buro, the facility’s program director.

Buro, like many treatment specialists, is in recovery himself. The former heroin user said he knows the difficulties of withdrawal and detox, and the challenges of moving forward and regaining a life. He is the former president of The Family Restored, where he remains a board member, and also has worked and been treated at The Plymouth House in Plymouth, New Hampshire. More recently, Buro was program director at Immersion Recovery Center in Boynton Beach, Florida.

His new detox center, in a building that previously housed Spurwink Services, will treat men and women, with stays averaging between five and eight days.

“This is a medical facility first,” Buro said. “This is at the very beginning, when people are at their lowest point.”


Maine, like much of the country, has been mired in an opioid crisis for several years that has killed hundreds and shows few signs of slowing down. One of the major barriers has been access to detox beds, which have been in short supply.

Buro said he sees recovery as a process that begins before a patient arrives. The first step is the phone call that leads to a preassessment. If the patient is accepted for admission, Buro said the person will be picked up, if necessary.

Some potential patients will have mental health or medical issues requiring greater care than his staff can provide, Buro noted, so intake will entail more assessment and a physical exam. The center will be ready to help people detox from all substances, but some withdrawals can be more dangerous than others.

“Alcohol and benzos have a high, high seizure risk,” Buro said. “Benzos” are benzodiazepines, sedatives that include Valium and Xanax.

Dr. Timothy Carnes, who leads the medical staff at Pine Tree Recovery Center, said while detox is a key first step, the road to recovery is not the same for everyone.

“One size does not fit all,” Carnes said. “We are providing patients with information and evidence to make the best decisions.”


The center will have four single-bed rooms, some of which have surveillance to monitor high-risk patients. Once admitted, all patients will have three meetings a day and be tended to by at least two on-duty counselors at all times.

The staff will include eight health technicians, seven nurses and three health care providers, Buro said.

Although the center will not accept MaineCare, Buro said money will be set aside for referrals who lack insurance.

The steps beyond detox can be very challenging if patients lack the insurance or resources to find sober living arrangements. Buro said he hopes to rent space in half of the second floor to counselors, a social worker and others in the recovery community.

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