A Recovery House / Detox Center May Be Built In North Wilmington

WILMINGTON, MA — A 40-bed recovery house detox center may soon be built in Wilmington.

A North Reading lawyer, who suffered from addiction earlier in his life, hopes to construct the facility at 362 Middlesex Avenue, which is the vacant land across from Pizza Mia/Uptown Deli, next to the North Wilmington MBTA Commuter Rail station.

The plans are “in the very early stages,” according to the town’s Director of Public Health Shelley Newhouse, who provided an update to the Wilmington Board of Health at their recent meeting.

The proposed tenant, which also has a similar facility in Wakefield for the past eight years, has begun meeting with town officials to solicit feedback.

“Any reservations I had went away after the presentation,” said Newhouse. “The company received a stellar recommendation from the Wakefield Board of Health and Wakefield Chief of Police.”

The detox center would serve as the first step in the recovery process for addicts, according to Newhouse.  Addicts would stay for just 1-2 weeks, then move on to a longer term rehab facility.  While at the center, addicts would not be permitted to leave the building, have visitors, or use a cell phone.

Regulated by the state’s Department of Public Health, the center would have the appropriate level of licensed medical professionals, including a medical director and nurses.  The site would have 24/7 security.

According to Newhouse, Wilmington residents would receive priority when a bed opens up.  There will also be employment preferences for Wilmington residents. The 2-level proposed structure, described as “beautiful,” would be built by Channel Buildings Company of Wilmington.  The center hopes to become a strong community partner and develop a strong relationship with Wilmington Public Schools.

The proposed tenant intends on holding neighborhood meetings with abutters. He has also expressed a desire to meet with town boards, including the Board of Health and Board of Selectmen, as early as October, to discuss his plans.  In addition, the tenant will likely need to go through the town’s special permitting process as the land is currently zoned for general business.

Newhouse noted that the Dollar General, a dollar store chain, has also expressed interest in the land.

362 Middlesex Avenue

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22 thoughts

    1. Ok I’m new to this whole thing, so cut me some slack if I’m asking questions that have already been answered. How have these addicts done after their 1-2 week stay at this place in Wakefield? (Don’t get all bent out of shape there, Anonymous, just messing around about the addict thing. But frim a medical standpoint, isn’t the term addict accurate as they are “addict”ed to drugs? But I will get to that in a minute.) Also, to everyone who is for this place actually coming here, I’d like to know how close you actually live to the site. (Please don’t post your address. I don’t care that much.) Im like 1/3 of a mile from it. Not a big fan of jogging by a drug rehab with my kid. It seems a little trashy. Speaking of which, to everyone who is all upset about Wilmington going down a notch and all the Dollar Tree stuff, this is not exactly Beacon Hill. It’s a middle class high school town. People move here to work week to week to pay their mortgage and raise their kids through high school. Not the stuff Hollywood dreams are made of. Everyone chill out. Also the idea of a coffee shop/hand-me-down bookstore makes me want to choke myself on a gluten-free muffin. Good God.
      Next on my list, the junkie/addict comment. Seriously? Come on now. I’m all for a mild amount of political correctness, but that’s ridiculous. Disrespectful? So is taking illegal drugs and all that comes with it. You’re asking a bunch of middle class people to apply Master’s degree jargon to the heroin users that will be living in their backyard for 2 weeks. Tall order chief. Sorry. Probably not gonna catch on.
      And finally, the Billerica comment: pure gold. Thank God for Billerica. Wilmington and Tewksbury’s punching bag. Don’t get me wrong, wicked cheap, but the best jokes usually are.
      In conclusion, keep the substance abuse victim whatevers in an area that’s not like 12 feet from kids houses. Seriously Wilmington, how stupid. Good night everyone.

  1. Find a more remote place for your building… and Dollar General is looking at the property too? What is this “town”? How about a nice farm fresh store or a cute coffee/hand me down book store or something worth it to the tax payers huh? We look like Boston St in Lynn already as it is.

    1. How about my2cents starts a company and uses this land ad he/she suggests? What’s that? You are all talk… This recovery center provides jobs and beds for our residents? I am for that; there are too many people in this town who can’t find reliable and rewarding jobs, and far too many dying too young. If this recovery cleans up the area (no pun intended), enforces its security policies as it does in Wakefield, and provides jobs- nay, careers- to this town then I will advocate for it. It is a geeat partnership for local law enforcement as well. Why all the naysayers? Would you rather our community continue to deteriorate as it is, froth with medicine-turned-poison and youth leaving town for better opportunities elsewhere?

  2. A legitimate facility for recovery would be acceptable. I know nothing about this guy, but the recovery industry is a sketchy sketchy animal. Patient brokering, insurance fraud,etc… it’s rampant in Massachusetts. Get rich quick schemes and taking advantage of addicts is all too common place and a lot if it is done by other former users. Be careful… background check the hell out of him. If all is good… go for it.

    1. As a substance use researcher and a Wilmington resident, I need to make a few points based on the article above. I hold a Masters degree in public health, have published work on substance use, and have worked the last few years at a program treating substance use in individuals under the age of 25 in Boston.

      First, please do not refer to these individuals as “addicts” or “junkies” as it is disrespectful, discriminating and stigmatizing. Language matters in this case and can stand in the way of recovery. Using the word “addict” implies that these individuals suffer from a moral condition, but in reality, substance use is a complex disease of both the brain and body. It has serious health consequences, including damage to the various body systems and disruption of the regions of the brain responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. Instead of “addict” or “junkie,” call it substance use or substance misuse or an individual with a substance use disorder. Help make Massachusetts a State Without StigMA (#StateWithoutStigMA).

      Second, substance use continues to be an issue and the need for quality detox/treatment facilities in Massachusetts only continues to grow. Wilmington is not immune to the current epidemic. The May 2017 report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed over 400 opioid-related overdose deaths in Middlesex County in 2016 alone and over 75% of deaths included the presence of the powerful drug fentanyl. Even though the MDPH report only quantifies the number of opioid-related deaths and does not quantify deaths related to the use of other substances, it clearly shows this is an issue in our community that deserves attention. A report in the American Journal of Public Health estimates 1.4 million Americans are waiting for substance use treatment nationwide and describes how substance users awaiting treatment are at an increased risk of death. A quality detox facility with experienced and well-trained staff would eliminate one barrier to care by giving preference to Wilmington residents, and could be a vital resource for those battling substance use and their families. If this issue has not personally affected you yet, talking to a few people will reveal someone around you – a friend, neighbor, co-worker, etc – has been. Bottom line: this new facility could save lives.

      Finally, please consider that the proposed tenant of this detox facility comes with stellar recommendations from both the Wakefield Board of Health and the Wakefield Chief of Police. This facility will have rules, security, the appropriate medical and counseling staff trained to treat substance use disorders, and be regulated by the MDPH. Additionally, the facility hopes to build partnerships with the community, the Wilmington Board of Health and Wilmington Public Schools. Before passing judgment on a facility of this type, take some time to gather all the facts – consider the qualifications of the proposed tenant, the recommendations from reputable sources, and the possible benefit to the community.

  3. Wake up Wilmington!!!!
    With all the apartment complexes and dollar tree type stores creeping in already , now lets add a rehab facility ….Wilmington is turning into Lawrence , Lowell , Malden etc.

    1. Dear New residents:
      Billerica, Burlington, Woburn, N. Reading, Reading, & Andover border our town of Wilmington, & guess what? Wilmington & sorounding towns all have the DISEASE of substance abuse. I hope & pray that it hasnt affected you or a family member, or friend YET. If a nice community like Wakefield has a similar facility & it’s working to help the DISEASE, maybe you should think about moving to the planet Mars where you can live happily ever after.

  4. nice idea, but these kids, young adults are making choices that their parents say oh its not them its a sickness
    this is not a sickness. Most of these kids are coming from good homes with parents that are to damn easy on
    kids today. Most parents would rather there kids smoke pot than drink, pot is a gateway drug to every other
    drug on the market that screws of the brain cells. So mam reading your article saying its substance use is not
    a complex disease its a choice of the individual no different than the old school saying alcohlism is a disease
    sorry i have several alcoholics in my family and one drug user (bad user) and its all there choice. Look into
    the up bringing of these people has anyone ever suggested that these people may have been born with
    DEPRESSION problems. One big problem you parents today are afraid to discipline your kids because of state
    laws. Now look at the problem the state and towns have. My parents, in there 80’s, would have come down on
    us if we were late coming in the door or disrespectful to them. You parents of todays day and age let your kids
    swear at you, in front of other people, let girls and boys sleep over houses, live at your houses, 25 years ago
    that would never fly. I believe alot of these problems starts right at the home bad PARENTING compared
    to 25 years ago… KIDS look to get yelled and disciplined thats there form of attention from mom and dad

  5. This is an absolutely ridiculous idea.
    I love how the article opens with “A North Reading Lawyer”. Please…, am I supposed to think that just because this guy recovered and turned his life around that putting a drug/rehab facility in a residential neighborhood is a good thing? Kudos to him and the fact that he recovered and is a success now. I’m sure this guy worked hard at his recovery, hard in law school, and worked hard to get his life together so that he could buy a nice house in a nice neighborhood and raise a family. So here’s my question Mr. Lawyer, After all you overcame to get yourself your dream would you want a rehab/recovery facility built in your front or back yard?? Do you want your children around all the up’s and downs that you experienced in and out of facilities?? All your doing is looking at a parcel of land close to your neighborhood that you can build your “Do Good” facility on and in turn see $$$ signs from. Shame on you for trying to gain a profit in an area that no wants you or your idea in.

    Coming from a family that has a son who is an addict and has been for 15 years I have seen the ins and outs of many a rehab and detox facility.
    For all the neighborhood people who are unaware of what this will bring here are some examples of what’s to come:
    Most of these “patients” are forced or ordered to be in the facility. This means they are going to look for any chance to get out that they can. They are there for a reason. They are addicts and need their drug to function. Being hold up in a house they don’t want to be in away from their drug is going to cause them withdrawals and misery. They will desire to get out and get high at the first chance they get.

    The addicts conduit to drugs is through friends. Lets be clear as day here. They will make sure there friends know where they are going before they go. This means you will have other addicts sitting in the Dunkin Donuts and Richdale parking lots smoking cigarettes and getting high waiting for the opportunity to scoop up there escaped friends to get high. Most of the time these addicts will spend their free time roaming the neighborhood streets while they are waiting and scoping out houses that are vulnerable to be robbed. This is a fact. Don’t sugar coat it supporters. This is true.
    These addicts are sick enough to rob and steal from their own families. Don’t for one second think that the fear of arrest for breaking into a house to help supply their needs is a concern for them.

    Keep in mind that the commuter rail runs directly parallel to this property. Do you not believe that the friends and dealers for these people wont have direct access to visit them and supply them more drugs? If the surrounding neighborhoods don’t fear the dealers and junkies of Lawrence, Lowell and Boston coming down the commuter rail to see there friends and rob your house than you are blind.

    No visitors, no cell phones, 24 hour lock down?? Sounds great but its not fool proof. I’ve seen facility’s like this before. They have great intention but don’t always live up to there promises.

    For all the families around the facility, do you want your children finding syringes and dirty spoons in your driveway and yard? Do you want your dog stepping on a syringe left on the side of the road? The side roads around the area will be the places the addicts and their friends will go to get high. Some place away but still close to the facility. They will drive around the side streets getting high and throwing the syringes out the window once complete. Believe it people. 15 years of first hand experience has seen it.

    Has the town of Wilmington taken into account that the towns high school will only be 1 mile up the street from this place? Massachusetts states a 1 year mandatory jail sentence for anyone caught dealing drugs in a school zone. Than why would the town invite the idea of setting up a rehab/detox facility in its proximity? I will say it again, detox and rehab facilities invite drugs into the area just the same as they do by inviting the addicts/[patients. Where there are addicts there are drugs. Great idea Wilmington, lets flood the area around our high school with drugs and junkies.
    Plain and simple these types of facilities are not made to be in residential neighborhoods. It is a completely awful idea to try to build this facility where it is proposed.

    You talk about Wakefield and all its success. Maybe the facility is a success to those who “want it”, but take a ride to downtown Wakefield and you will get a first hand look at the junkies roaming the streets there. I didn’t even know there was a rehab/detox facility there my first time seeing being downtown. It was obvious to me based on the individuals I saw hanging around the business’ that there was what I thought a methadone clinic near by. I’ve seen enough of these facilities to detect the type of people who reside in them to differentiate addicts from normal people.

    In closing I hope the residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the build area are aware enough to unite and attend all the town meetings where their voices and opinions can be heard. To fight this proposal is a must. It is something that needs to be done as a cohesive unit. Strength comes in numbers and we should have numbers in abundance to fight this proposal and to shoot it down. If your family and children mean anything to you please stay active in this fight. W

  6. ok. have you guys seen Wakefield? junkies ( I have evry right to call them that because my sister is one, walk around all day high on Methadon. We sold or house and it brought our property value down. For all these people who think it’s a great idea do you live in the neighborhood that it might go in? If not you should have NO say. I know this epidemic first hand. My sister has been using heroin for 13 years. She has gone to 5 rehabs. each time just to beat a case not because she wanted to. We’ve spent thousands on rehabs. Let me tell you the REALITY of what this will bring to MY neighborhood. First off, These people in “rehab” have their friends bring in drugs to get them high. They make new connections/ suppliers in their. How great is it that this proposed facility will be right off the commuter rail making it EASY for drugs to flow into our area. Also, my sister in each rehab committed breaking and entering (B&E’s) into multiple houses in the area. After a week in detox the patients get 1-2 hrs free time away from the facility so they walk and drive around the surrounding neighborhood to scope out houses. Oh ya, and let’s mention the multiple syringes my kids will now find and this rehab will be 2 miles from WHS! How exciting! plus the dunkin dounuts and richdale convenience store is right across the street so now I get to them hanging around all day smoking butts. I hate to break it to you people but most of the kids in their are NOT in detox by choice its because they HAVE to go. How many people can tell me that your friend or loved one went to rehab once and stayed sober forever?? NO ONE. I will no longer feel safe in my neighborhood. I will no longer leave my front door and windows opened on a warm summer night. I moved to Wilmington because it had a nice reputation for kids to grow up in. If this facility goes up, we are selling our house and take a HUGE hit because who wants to live right next door to a rehab? Who wants to raise their kids next to a rehab?
    NO ONE. Maybe you people will all your compassion for addicts and the disease should put your money where your mouth is and move to our neighborhood 🙂 I will be at every town meeting and do whatever it takes for this not to happen. This facility should NOT be built in an area with TONS of children!

  7. A.s if you don’t think it’s a choice and every kid now a days is taught about how bad drugs and
    Alcohol is for them and taught in middle school let me say they should know RIGHT FROM WRONG with all the health classes that they have now. Sorry when I went to school you
    We’re not taught any thing about drugs we did not have a dare officer to teach about drugs.
    WE had Bill Fay, Mr Peabody, Mr Birmingham, and Mr. Bruno who taught us lets go guys have
    A great time join the ski club, play basketball, any thing to stay busy and out of trouble. We were given chances to make choices and make the right ones. Maybe just maybe in years to
    Come we can stop teaching the health drug course what these kids don’t know won’t hurt.
    Old school ways seem to have worked for years. At a certain age you should know what a
    Good choice is. If you want to drink fine keep it to minimum. If your that dumb to do heroin
    Sorry A.S that is choice with all the news that’s out there now smarten up

    1. Jo, please take a moment to understand what the detox/recovery center rules are, 3 important rules, #1, patients are not allowed to leave once admitted, #2, no visitors, & #3, no. cell phone use. I understand your concern, please understand, but this is an issue all over the country, it doesn’t discriminate, sooner or later there will be centers of this type in every community, & hopefully they will be a positive solution rather than negative like most uneducated individuals like yourself.

      1. Erica do you live in the neighborhood of the intended facility?
        Like I said before, coming from someone with hands on experience with these centers don’t believe what they’re telling you about the rules.
        Those may be the rules to start but as this facility progresses it will start implementing different rules and different regulations for different patients.
        The thing that everyone is missing on this blog is the fact that no one is denying this country has an epidemic. No one is saying these centers should not be built and that there should not be help for these people. The big issue here is the fact that we as neighbors do not want it in our neighborhood.
        So Erica can you truthfully from the bottom of your heart say yes to the fact that you would want this type of facility in your front yard?

  8. Erica far from uneducated. I have a nephew that is a junkie and he certainly didn’t have
    Anyone hold his hand to do his drugs. There is a half way house around the corner from
    My house and the rules have failed non stop police are being called. You really believe these
    Places have rules, oh sure just to get the OK from the town. You really think these young folks
    Aren’t going to break the rules they break the rules every day using the drugs they do.
    Far from being uneducated (BC grad) thank you just telling like it is realistic ha ha

  9. Wow, please do not misconstrue my previous comment. What I said was that ADDICTION IS NOT A CHOICE. I think trying something the first time IS a choice and unfortuantely I think the ability to know right from wrong is not the only problem. Self esteem plays a large role, too, I agree. I went to school in the 80s so my classmates were made well aware of the dangers of drug use. There was a mystery illness in those days… now known as HIV and AIDS. If we were not taught examples of what was wrong, how would we know what is right and what is wrong? Leaving kids to figure out their own answers is not the solution. Back to this: do we want this in our town? Probably not. Do we need this in our town? We are sadly heading that direction.

  10. I think so many of these people are spot on. The idea of having a detox center one mile from a high school and where small children play is an absolute nightmare. If anything happens to a child or teenager and this goes through it will be the fault of the town of Wilmington for allowing it. And something will happen. It will just be a matter of time. I am disgusted that this is even a proposal when there is a spot on Ballardvale that is properly zoned for this and not near residents.

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