New Schuyler Falls detox center 'a beacon of light'

ANDREA VANVALKENBURG/P-R Photo Former Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (left), State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury), Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) and Connie Wille, CEO of Champlain Valley Family Center for Drug Treatment and Youth Services, celebrate the region’s first inpatient detox facility on Friday. The Champlain Family Center Recovery Campus has now opened for addiction detox and stabilization services. 

SCHUYLER FALLS — The region’s first inpatient detox facility is being hailed as a beacon of hope for those taking their first steps on the road to addiction recovery.

With a growing heroin and opioid epidemic devastating families across the North Country, officials hope the new 18-bed detox facility will help those struggling with addiction find successful paths to recovery.

“And recovery is to be celebrated,” United Way of the Adirondack Region Executive Director John Bernardi said during Friday’s grand opening of the Champlain Family Center Recovery Campus.

“This is a beacon of light, not darkness. And It will allow people to move forward to better days.”

COLLABORATIVE EFFORT

Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez commended area leaders, treatment providers and law-enforcement for their dedication to the project since its initial vision nearly five years ago.

“This was really, truly a collaborative effort,” she said at the facility’s packed opening ceremony, noting the unique challenges rural communities have in fighting substance-use disorders, including a lack of access to detox facilities, the nearest of which was previously in Albany or Potsdam.

Familiar with the devastating reaches addiction has across the region, State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) has been one of the leading forces behind making the facility a reality.

Noting that those suffering with addiction often must complete five days of detox before entering treatment, Little said the facility is a much needed addition in the ongoing fight against substance abuse.

She helped secure official funding for the facility in 2016, about eight years after the state shuttered the site’s previous youth-services program at the Norrisville Road location adjacent to Macomb State Park.

“And what a great use of this facility; it’s absolutely phenomenal,” Little said Friday.

SURVIVE AND THRIVE

Assemblyman Billy Jones also applauded the collaboration over the years it took to bring the facility to reality, saying “what it proves is that people in this community, in the North Country community, want to help.”

By making the detox facility a reality, he said, “means we can help these families survive and thrive in recovery.”

Bernardi detailed the far-reaching affects addiction has had on the area, saying the growing opioid epidemic “is tearing families apartment” locally and has greatly contributed to the 90-percent increase in foster care needs in the last five years and a drastically heavier burden on law-enforcement and community services.

Connie Wille, now CEO of Champlain Valley Family Center for Drug Treatment and Youth Services, said the countless supporters of the project “are inspiring hope” amid the darkness of the addiction.

SUPPORT PROGRAMS

The facility comes as part of the Family Center’s continued mission to provide treatment and recovery services to those affected by addiction locally.

Since 2016, it has continued to expand not only with helping to secure and now operate the detox center, but also with buying the former Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction location next to the center on Ampersand Drive in Plattsburgh, which added permanent staff and group space.

The center also operates a satellite office in Hawkins Hall on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus one day a week.

Part of the center’s substance-abuse support also includes a small housing program designed to assist clients who struggle with addiction, are on Medicaid and show willingness to continue participation in treatment services.

The program was created in hopes of reducing hospitalizations and ER visits, while also helping participants secure employment or enrollment in education programs.

The detox facility is seen as complex and much needed addition to detox and stabilization services locally while also providing about two dozen jobs, including medical staff, recovery coaches, maintenance employees and food-service workers.