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Downstate addiction recovery center opens in Harrington


Downstate Delawareans now have a new place to go for help with drug and alcohol addictions.

Wilmington-based Connections Community Service Programs opened its new withdrawal management center in Harrington this week, with the help of state funding and a $5 million federal rural development loan.


The center offers inpatient detox from life-threatening alcohol withdrawal -- and care for addictions to drugs like heroin or prescription opiates. Director Cathy McKay says it's a new concept for the First State:

"A withdrawal management center can do both things," McKay said. "It can help somebody detoxify from alcohol or benzodiazepines or a drug like that, or it can help somebody transition from the use of street opioids to the use of medications that are used to treat opioid addiction, like methadone or suboxone."

They also provide behavioral support for people to move on with their lives after detox. McKay says the two go hand in hand:


"People need the medical support to get through the actual withdrawal," she said, "but they really need the recovery coaching piece to figure out what their next steps are."


The medical side also includes a so-called "step-down" unit. That's an effort to reduce what McKay calls the revolving door of recovery, where people will check in, check out and immediately relapse.


"So the idea behind having this step-down unit right there in the same place, is that somebody comes in, they're in a 23-hour bed, they get started on a replacement medication," said McKay. "Then, even after discharge, "they can come right back the next day and continue their treatment until they're stabilized and they make that transition to a regular outpatient program."


Some neighbors were concerned about the center's in-town location -- but McKay says that's an unfair stigma. She says addicted people are less likely to commit crime if they have options for getting clean -- and that recovery can save lives.


"Among the general public, there's a perception that there's a critical need," she says.


Delaware saw about one overdose every other day in 2014, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services. They're expecting to provide about $1.7 million in state funding for the Harrington center next year.

It saw about a dozen walk-ins on its first day, and McKay says it does intakes for people 18 and up around the clock. It's located at 9 East St. in Harrington's Spartan Center Shopping Center, and can be reached at (302) 786-7800. 

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