MALONE — People in Tupper Lake dealing with substance abuse will soon have a new place to get treatment, thanks to a $250,000 federal grant distributed through the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.

Franklin County Community Services Director Susanne Lavigne told members of the Franklin County Legislature on Thursday about the plan to build the facility.

The project is being built in cooperation with a group known as “Tupper Lake Cares.” Lavigne says it is a way for people struggling with addiction to get the help they need.

“This is really a great opportunity for people to have a nonthreatening kind of space to go to,” Lavigne said. “Sometimes people are afraid to reach out to a professional, so this just put a step in the middle of that, where they are working with a peer recovery advocate, have a relationship and have frequent conversations about what they might want to do about their addiction.”

After talking about the client’s addiction issues, the peer advocate will then reach out to a representative at St. Joseph’s Addiction and Treatment Recovery Center.

A clinician will then come to the treatment center and they will do what they call a “warm hand-off.”

“The peer will be making that connection on behalf of that individual to the clinician and hopefully at that point the clinician, the peer and the individual can really get connected,” said Lavigne.

Once everyone meets, they will then decide what treatment option the client might need, whether it is an out-patient option, detox or another level of service beyond that.

Resources will also be available for family members of addicts, who might be struggling to cope with their loved one’s addiction.

Lavigne says a space has been leased and workers are already starting to renovate it. She says as soon as the funds start coming in, the center will be open.

She admits heroin overdoses and deaths are a problem in Tupper Lake.

“Because our smaller communities are a smaller population base, someone’s addiction, someone’s overdose and someone’s death can ripple through a small community and really rivet the impact, so yes, it has been an issue,” said Lavigne.

She says what makes this project different is that people in Tupper Lake stepped up and realized something needed to be done. So they took a step to improve the lives of those suffering from addiction and help to make the community a better place to live.

“It is going to allow community members who know people who have a problem with alcohol or drugs to maybe eliminate a disastrous situation. We have had several in the past couple of months and the police department is our first-on-the-scene response, next to the rescue squad,” said Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun, who is also a member of the county Legislature. “Narcan (a drug used to block the immediate effects of an overdose) has been distributed quite a but in the past few months, we are hoping to eliminate that and make an awareness that there is a place to go and get help” said Maroun.

If all goes according to plan, the outreach center could be open by September.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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