Evans methadone counseling center prepares to open

A group of medical professionals and administrators prepared this morning for the opening of Evans’ newest medical facility — a methadone clinic.

Treatment Centers of Augusta opens Monday in the Park Place shopping center on Washington Road across from Club Car.

Teresa Martin, medical services director for Valdosta-based parent company Treatment Centers of America, said she disliked the term “methadone clinic” since it understates the services offered at the facility.

Martin, and corporate administrator Jeremy Pate, said the center focuses much more on counseling recovering opiate addicts and administering methadone doses plays a small part in their patients’ recoveries.

“We work with our patients to help them recognize the triggers that led to their addiction,” Pate said. “For many of our patients, drugs are a coping mechanism, a stress reliever. Whereas you or I might go to the gym for stress relief, they turn to a medication.

“We help them to see that there is another way. We help them put their lives back together.”

Pate said Treatment Centers staff even helps their patients find homes and jobs.

“We’re in the business of helping those who come here once again become productive members of society,” Martin said.

Still, the stigma exists that such facilities as Treatment Centers of Augusta cater to hardcore addicts of heroin and other illegal opiate-based drugs.

That perception created a stir last year among owners of other Park Place shops, many of which cater to children. Some of the shop owners even threatened to boycott rent payments until the clinic moved elsewhere.

Pate said it might seem odd to put a facility like Treatment Centers of Augusta in a suburban shopping center, but it is part of his company’s strategy to break the stigma associated with methadone users.

Between 85 to 90 percent of patients at the other six Treatment Centers of America locations in Georgia got hooked on opiate-based prescription medications meant to relieve pain, Pate said.

Most of those patients, Pate added, were men and women with families and jobs.

“This is not a court-mandated program,” Martin said. “People who come here do it voluntarily because they want help.”

Pate said as much as 80 percent of patients of The Augusta Metro Treatment Center on Ellis Street in downtown Augusta are Columbia County residents.

“What we do here is actually a community service,” Pate said. “What we do here helps the people who come to us, helps their families and their employers.”

 

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115,

or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

 

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