On the eastern side of Rockville, set back off Avery Road, near the Rock Creek trail, officials gathered Friday to celebrate a new facility aimed at saving people struggling with addiction.
The Avery Road Treatment Center has 64 beds and several inpatient and outpatient programs for Marylanders facing substance abuse and addiction.
Officials said a previous inpatient treatment facility at the site at 14703 Avery Road, under the same name, fell into disrepair. After years of planning and $14.6 million of funding from the state, county and private partners, the new center recently opened its doors to patients.
According to a news release from the county government, opioid overdose deaths increased by 29% last year countywide from 2019.
State data show that there were 105 drug and alcohol-related deaths countywide in 2019. Of those, 86 of involved opioids.
Dr. Raymond Crowel, director of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, said in an interview that it’s an important time for the new Avery Road Treatment Center to be opening, as those in recovery faced great challenges during the pandemic.
The new center also expands on the type of treatment available at the prior facility, he said. Before, the center was a detox center and offered intensive inpatient treatment, he said. Now, both inpatient and outpatient services will be offered under the same roof.
“This allows people to start before or as they’re leaving the space … so it creates continuity of care for people,” Crowel said. “And that is very important [because] we lose a lot of people in transition between services sometimes.”
County Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz, who is chair of the council’s Health and Human Services Committee, echoed those words.
Albornoz told elected officials, health partners and others gathered for the celebration on Friday that the last year has been “exhausting,” but it’s been even more difficult for those in recovery.
The increase in opioid-related deaths last year means the treatment center will serve a valuable need, right away, he said.
“There has never been a more important time for this facility than right now,” Albornoz said. “This facility is going to save lives.”
The 37,682-square-foot building has a cafeteria, several large meeting spaces, a methadone clinic and other outpatient treatment services. It’s designed with soft, warm colors throughout. Health officials said there now is a full-scale medicine storage room, which used to be in a closet in the old building.
The treatment center is in Council Member Sidney Katz’s district, which covers Gaithersburg and Rockville and other surrounding areas. Katz said there have been some terrible times during the coronavirus pandemic, but the opioid crisis existed beforehand and still persists.
The old treatment center saved many lives, and the new center will build on that, especially for people who were isolated during 2020, Katz said in an interview.
“We need to get people to treatment, so they can get to a better life,” Katz said.
Amy Bormel stayed at the previous facility.
She told those in attendance she struggled with addiction for more than 10 years, and is in recovery. She now works with the Potomac Healthcare Foundation, which has offered addiction treatment services since 1977.
The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on everyone, but particularly challenging on those battling addiction, Bormel said. The new treatment center is much needed, she added.
“To me, this building sends a clear message — that you are worth it,” Bormel said.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org