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Lowell House Breaks Ground on Innovative Opioid Treatment and Recovery Center

November 28, 2018

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LOWELL -- Clients perform yoga stretches inside the low-stress center.

Others learn how to make healthy meals in the kitchen -- classes that will teach them how to function independently and cook on their own.

And then there’s the big plant wall, calming people as they sit in the waiting room. Scents and music also help them feel comfortable.

This is the picture that officials painted Tuesday evening at the groundbreaking ceremony for the state-of-the-art Lowell House Center for Integrated Treatment and Recovery (CITAR) at 101 Jackson St., contiguous to the Lowell Community Health Center.

“We want to promote healthy lifestyle changes,” said Lowell House CEO Bill Garr. “We need to introduce things that we know will make people healthy, and help people stay in recovery.

“This is a place where people will get better, and we will solve this opioid issue,” he later added.

Construction at the $2 million center started last week. Lowell House, which provides both residential and outpatient addiction treatment, plans to move into CITAR by March, Garr promised.

They have been working on this project for about four years.

“This has been a project we’ve been trying to move along for quite some time,” said Jon Kurland, chair of the Lowell House board of directors. “It’s great to see where we are.”

Once this project is complete, the Coalition for a Better Acre -- which owns Lowell House’s facility on Merrimack Street -- will use that site build a 28-unit complex of sober apartments with Lowell House performing the recovery coaching.

Garr approached the Lowell House board in 2014 stressing that the opioid epidemic is a major problem that’s not going away. They were “throwing pebbles in the lake” to address it, he said, but it was more than a pebble problem.

“We need to throw a boulder in the pond,” he recalled telling the board. “Something that makes a major impact.”

This treatment and recovery support center will do just that, Garr said, helping save lives by increasing the accessibility and coordination of high-quality services to local residents and families.

Under a rental agreement between Lowell House and the Lowell Community Health Center, Lowell House will have space on the health center’s fourth floor for the next 20 years, with options to extend up to 60 years.

Garr said it’s critical to bring as many services as possible under one roof. He called it an “amazing partnership” with the health center.

“We are already talking about what we can do together to better integrate care,” said Lowell Community Health Center CEO Susan West Levine.

Lowell House’s building on Merrimack Street is a difficult, trauma-inducing space, Garr said. The waiting room is always too hot or too cold, and it’s easy to get lost in there, he added.

This state-of-the-art center will be built to eliminate trauma. There will be a welcoming waiting room, exercise room, private meditation area, and a Circle Health healthy eating and nutrition center.

“We’ve been trying to address the problem that seems to have no answer,” said Lowell Mayor Bill Samaras. “This is the beginning of a real answer.”

This center provides a total approach to care, the mayor added.

“We have to be able to take them off the street and offer them some type of help,” Samaras said. “When you can offer people a future, you have a chance in making it work.”

Lowell House has raised $1.4 million for the center. They expect $400,000 in new market tax credits. They’re still seeking about $365,000 to complete the capital campaign by July.

Garr asked attendees for pledges at the event, which took place on Giving Tuesday.

“We need your help,” he said.

To donate to Lowell House, visit www.lowellhouseinc.org/donate-now .

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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