Milestone Recovery in Portland will reopen its detox program next week, three months after it closed temporarily because of a staffing shortage.

The June 21 reopening comes amid pent-up demand for detox services as Maine continues to deal with a deadly opioid epidemic. Last year, a record 502 Mainers died from overdoses.

Milestone Recovery, which serves Mainers experiencing substance use disorders and homelessness, is the only independent nonprofit medical detox program in southern Maine. More than 1,500 people each year receive services from its location on India Street in Portland.

The temporary closure in March raised concerns that hundreds of people who receive medical treatment of substance-use withdrawal symptoms would be affected. The closure was necessary because of a staffing shortage that began last year and intensified as Milestone began to deal with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Executive Director Oliver Bradeen said in March.

“We’re excited not only about reopening the detox, but also about the potential to expand it in the near future,” Bradeen said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree recently included Milestone’s medical detoxification program in proposals for federal Community Project Funding, according to Bradeen. The proposal would increase the capacity of the program by 50 percent, which Bradeen says would substantially increase individuals’ access to care.

During the closure, Milestone recruited new employees, including in the nursing department, and refined programs, policies and streamlined the intake process. Bradeen said the state, individual donors, foundations and community groups came together to make the reopening possible.

“The medically supervised withdrawal services historically provided by Milestone have saved countless lives and have been a statewide resource,” said Gordon Smith, Maine’s director of opioid response. “They are a critical part of the continuum of treatment services needed as Maine continues to respond to the opioid/substance use disorder epidemic. We are thrilled to learn of the re-opening of the service and were pleased to be part of the financial support needed to accomplish this.”

Nursing staff will being offering screenings for same-day admission at 8 a.m. June 21. Available spaces in the program are expected to fill early in the day. Clients seeking services can contact the nursing department at 207-775-4790, ext. 4790.

Milestone’s emergency homeless shelter, residential treatment program, women’s recovery house and HOME Team outreach program all remained open while the detoxification service was closed.

More information about substance use disorder support and resources is available by calling 211, emailing [email protected], visiting the Maine 211 website, visiting the state’s Know Your Options resource page or visiting the DHHS Office of Behavioral Health’s resource page.


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