Coastal Recovery Community Center director Amy Stendel (right) and Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery coordinator Darren Ripley (Photo by Andy O’Brien)
Coastal Recovery Community Center director Amy Stendel (right) and Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery coordinator Darren Ripley (Photo by Andy O’Brien)
Midcoast residents recovering from alcohol and drug addiction will soon have a sober place to support their recovery with the grand opening — from noon to 6 p.m. on Monday, May 8 — of the Coastal Recovery Community Center (CRCC) in Room 104 of the Lincoln Street Center in Rockland. The Augusta-based Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery (MAAR) is managing the center, but it will be mostly staffed by volunteer “recovery coaches,” many of whom are also recovering from addiction. Starting Tuesday, May 9, the center will be open to the public, at no charge, Monday through Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. or by appointment (call 691-3697 or email info@coastalrecoverycommunitycenter.org). 

CRCC director Amy Stendel, the organization’s only employee, said the center will help local people remain sober by providing an empathetic and supportive environment with others who have been through the process of maintaining sobriety. 

“A huge part of recovery is giving back what you have been given as well. The gift of sobriety should be shared with everybody,” said Stendel, who is 18 months sober herself. “I think it’s huge that we now have this place available, because just coming out of the PARC unit, detox or rehab back out into the real world is scary. You have to cut ties with many of the friends you used to have and change everything.”

The center will be available for people to drop in and have a cup of coffee or play cards, but its main aim is to help people stay sober. It will host job readiness training, parenting classes and wellness seminars. Stendel said there will also be opportunities to use the gym and the building’s facilities for  substance-free social events. There won’t be any clinical treatment offered at Coastal Recovery Community Center, but the renovated Lincoln Street school classroom will host various 12-step meetings and SMART Recovery, an alternative to traditional programs like Narcotics Anonymous. MAAR coordinator Darren Ripley stressed that there are multiple pathways to recovery and that the organization does not favor one form of treatment over another. But he said peer centers can be a key piece of the puzzle.

 


“When you look at prevention, intervention and treatment, we see this revolving door of people going back into treatment for so many years,” said Ripley, who is also in long-term recovery. “And now we’re seeing that door slowly closing as we have the peer support systems out there. When you have a support system for them to get involved in, a person that used to take six times to get [sober] may get it on the first try.” 

Ripley said his organization chose Rockland for the peer center after holding recovery coach training sessions in Thomaston last year and discovering an active recovery community in the area. There are two other existing peer recovery centers in the state —  the Portland Recovery Community Center and the Bangor Area Recovery Network. Ripley said that while the Rockland center will initially be open 20 hours per week, he is hoping to raise more funds to extend the hours eventually. So far it has received some money from the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition, but the funding will be exhausted in June. Ripley said he is also waiting for the state to release an RFP for peer center funding, which was appropriated by the Legislature last year, but the LePage administration has yet to put it out. The state is tentatively planning to release the RFP sometime this week, according to  Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Samantha Edwards. In the meantime, Stendel and Ripley are planning to assemble an advisory board of people who use the center to assist in the fund-raising effort.

“One way or the other it will remain in operation,” said Ripley. “We have a very supportive community here in Knox County, and we’ve got a great team that’s put together some great ideas for fund-raising.”