By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson/Marlborough – Any person dealing with substance use disorders or recovery and their family members can now attend a local drop-in center: MetroWest HOPE (Help, Outreach, Prevention and Education). The project is organized by the Hudson and Marlborough substance use prevention coalitions in conjunction with police from each community. Attendees needn’t live in Hudson or Marlborough.
MetroWest HOPE observed its grand opening Nov. 29. Future dates are set for Tuesdays, Dec. 27 and Jan. 31 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Grace Baptist Church, 353 River Rd. in Hudson. Opening the drop-in center around Thanksgiving, Christmas and the new year was intentionally planned, noted Kathy Leonard, chair of the Marlborough Substance Use Prevention Coalition.
“We’ve been working on this since the spring and we really wanted to push getting it opened around the holidays,” she said. “It can be a particularly difficult time for people who are suffering with substance use disorders.”
The local drop-in center is modeled after East Bridgewater HOPE, where Leonard and several other community leaders attended training.
“People are responding to this because it’s a great resource in their community,” she said. “There was nothing else like it in our area.”
At each MetroWest HOPE session, attendees can get information from representatives of agencies, organizations, support groups and treatment facilities. Among local resources available are the Hudson chapter of Learn to Cope for families, and the Marlborough-based Addiction Referral Center and the Recovery Connection. Treatment facilities represented include AdCare, Spectrum Health Centers, Teen Challenge USA, and Recovery Centers of America. Also offered is training for Narcan, a medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose.
“It’s really valuable because this is all-inclusive with different resource tables,” Leonard said of the drop-in center’s offerings. “Oftentimes, people don’t know where to turn when they’re faced with addiction and looking for help. It’s overwhelming to try to make those phone calls by yourself or even know who to call. People can leave the outreach center with information at their fingertips, so that it’s right there when they need it.”
Among the groups with a table at MetroWest HOPE is the Marblehead-based organization Magnolia New Beginnings.
“They have representatives who will make phone calls for you,” Leonard noted. “So if you’re too overwhelmed or don’t have the time, you can make just one phone call and have someone from Magnolia New Beginnings make the calls for you.”
Leonard is passionate about the cause because of firsthand experience. Her son Jonathan Testa died of a heroin overdose at age 27 in December 2014.
“When I was going through this with my son, there really wasn’t as much information available,” she recalled. “Now, you can’t go through life without realizing we have an epidemic. It’s talked about so much more now, which I think helped reduce the stigma so people aren’t afraid to reach out for help. I was one of those people that didn’t know what to do. If I had all of these resources at my fingertips, it would have made the process much easier.”
The MetroWest HOPE organizers are planning to add a second monthly session beginning in February. It will be held at the First Church in Marlborough, 37 High St. They believe that another location will geographically broaden participation of residents from other communities.