ARLINGTON — “Self-love is the first form of freedom.”
“Keep going, because you did not come this far just to come this far.”
“You can | End of story.”
Those are a few of the quotes lining the walls at a new 36-bed substance abuse treatment center opening this month in Arlington.
Executive Director Edmund Smith recognized the need for the Holman Recovery Center as he worked in Snohomish County’s drug court program.
“As a coordinator for drug court, myself and my drug court team were struggling to get people into treatment,” said Smith, who is also in recovery. “The treatment centers were in Eastern Washington. They’re in Kitsap Peninsula. They’re far away. We’re like, ‘Why does Snohomish County not have its own residential substance use disorder treatment program here that’s for Medicaid clients?’”
The facility is critically needed in Snohomish County, where overdoses continue at a rapid pace. In 2019, roughly 250 residents died from overdoses, according to the medical examiner’s office. In 2020, that rose to 303. In 2021, there were 342. In a single month last summer, 36 overdose deaths were recorded.
Last year, fentanyl was responsible for the most overdoses, with 149 deaths connected to the synthetic opioid that is becoming more prevalent nationwide. Methamphetamine accounted for 127, according to county data.
In the first month or so of 2022, over a dozen overdoses have been reported in Snohomish County.
“I don’t think we’re going to, sadly, have any trouble filling this facility,” Smith said. “My hope is that it fills quickly because it will meet the need. The need in the community is very serious right now.”
The Smokey Point center isn’t the only new facility to serve residents with substance abuse disorder. For example, a 32-bed behavioral health and addiction treatment space opened at Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett last August. Unlike the Denney center, Holman isn’t set up for mental health treatment. It prioritizes help with substance abuse, but it is not a detox facility.
Patients can get referred to the new facility in various ways, whether it be from health care providers, drug court or others. They would stay at Holman for 21 to 28 days. In that time, they’d take part in meditation, counseling and 12-step meetings, like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. For those few weeks, they won’t have access to cellphones or TV. Families can come on weekends.
From the first day, staff will work with clients to figure out what happens after they leave Holman. Questions will include: Where are you going to live? How will you support yourself financially? How will you continue your treatment?
“Navigating through social services can really feel like a maze,” Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert said.
Smith hopes the facility, with 18 to 20 staffers, will primarily serve clients on Medicaid, but they’ll also take private insurance. And most will likely be coming from Snohomish County.
The space off Smokey Point Boulevard features a mural donated by the Everett Recovery Café. The Tulalip Tribes donated washers and dryers. With a view of the Cascades, an outdoor area has a basketball court, and it could get badminton nets in the summer.
Named after Susan Holman, who helped those struggling with addiction in Oak Harbor before her death in 2017, the center has been in the works for a few years. The project was awarded a nearly $750,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce, but raising money remained difficult.
In a move that, in Smith’s estimation, made the center possible, Grandview Homes bought the land and built the facility. Construction began in November 2020.
Smith hopes people feel valued there, something he didn’t get when he sought treatment for his own addiction.
“The reason (I do) addiction medicine is to provide those patients with understanding that they deserve the help, that this is a medical condition that should be treated as such,” said Dr. Tania Hernandez, the center’s medical director. “And that there is help, and there are people that care.”
“People do heal from addiction, people do recover,” Smith added. “It’s not helpless.”
The facility is set to open Valentine’s Day.
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.
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