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Recovery advocates aim to reduce stigma surrounding opioid treatment center

A new comprehensive treatment center opened in Lynnwood on Monday following weeks of protests.

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — A new comprehensive treatment center in Lynnwood will begin offering medication-assisted treatment and other services to around 140 patients. It opened Monday after weeks of protests. 

Those who protested opposed its location and argued there was a lack of transparency in the process. They say they still have concerns. 

But recovery advocates say they'd like to see a focus on the need for treatment and a fuller understanding of what it entails. 

Marjorie Drieu is now a program manager at Peer Kent and a proud mother of a 3-year-old. Drieu said that medication-assisted treatment, like the kind that will be offered at the Acadia Healthcare center, helped to save her life. When Drieu was arrested in 2019, she told the King County Jail she would be going through withdrawal for heroin. When they drug-tested her, she learned she was expecting.

"They put me on methadone and it was my first experience with being locked up, detoxing, but a bearable detox," Drieu said. "I could sleep, that's the thing I remember, I could sleep."

Drieu said that was different than previous detox experiences when she had restless legs, memories popping up every time she closed her eyes, and more. 

"Really, a first time for me that I could sit in jail for that long and be okay," she said.

Drieu later switched from methadone to Suboxone and then chose to taper off. She said she felt some withdrawal symptoms but nothing near what she had with heroin. 

Though she said she supports the decision of those who stay on methadone indefinitely. 

"I think it's a personal choice but I would not be where I am today had I not been dosed on methadone when I got arrested," Drieu said. "I think that really saved my life and it gave my brain a chance to get back to normal function and it took care of the cravings while I was adjusting to life in recovery. "

Drieu said she was lucky to live close to where she went for treatment after jail, but for others, traveling a long distance for what is often daily care is another obstacle to recovery. Recovery advocates want to see stigma reduced surrounding common medical care. 

The Washington State Department of Health approved Acadia Healthcare's license for the center, writing that "this clinic is moving only a short distance from its previous location, and has hundreds of existing clients, many of whom live in community near the new location and need access to continued treatment."

"Safe Lynnwood," a group involved in the protests, said members were not available for interviews but released a statement Monday:

"We fully support individuals seeking addiction treatment and believe that everyone deserves access to care. We also recognize the importance of addressing public safety concerns related to such treatment centers, particularly in light of the many concerns with the current location. 

Given the lack of action by public officials and Acadia to address our concerns, we have proposed a comprehensive public safety plan and are actively gathering feedback from the community to ensure its effectiveness. We are committed to working closely with the provider, public officials, and other stakeholders to address any concerns and find solutions that prioritize both the well-being of those in treatment and the safety of our communities. 

Furthermore, we will continue to work with state officials, the Lynnwood City Council, and the city administration to address the gaps found in this process and revise existing laws or guidelines that allowed for a multi-billion dollar corporation to deceive the public and evade accountability in the first place." 

KING 5 also reached out to Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell's office Monday for comment. In a statement, the office said it believes Acadia should have implemented a more robust outreach strategy, noting the need for equitable care, and writing in part, "we truly hope that Acadia is successful in providing therapeutic treatment to those in need and that they will work to inform and partner with our community members moving forward."

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