The complete lack of residential treatment in the Williston area for those who are suffering from drug or alcohol addictions was cited as a top need during a summit last December about the surge in cases of opioid addiction in the region.
Summit Counseling, a private non-profit mental health counseling center, has been working since then to help change that situation.
Principals Brenda and George Owen say they have identified a property that appears suitable for a facility in McKenzie County. Like their non-profit counseling service center, the residential facility would have to start very small, with just 16 beds, Brenda said. The 40-room facility would also have to provide housing for staff, and office spaces for therapists and doctors.
“We want to have activities and gardens where people can come and get a holistic approach to things,” she said.
The two have planned a public forum at 7 p.m. tonight to talk about the facility in the Old Alexander gym, to answer community questions. For additional details about that, contact George at 701-230-0469.
While the summit in December was focused on the surge in opioid addiction in the Williston region, alcohol addiction remains one of the most prominent problems in the area, Brenda Owen said. She wants to model her treatment facility on Heartview, a premier treatment facility in the state.
“We have spent some time down there looking at the program,” she said. “The communities that have these are so glad to have the support systems.”
The new facility would be serving people from the community who are already here, struggling to beat addictions, Brenda Owen said. It wouldn’t be bringing people in from outside the region, because there is already a sizeable number of people right here, who need the help.
“This will not be for those who have been court-ordered,” Brenda Owen added. “It is for people who are addicted in your community, so they have a place to go for help.”
Right now, people are having to go to Minot facilities or even out of state. And the waiting list is three to six months out. A local facility would mean families are better able to stay united during a difficult time, and that patients are better able to retain employment while they are in recovery.
Lack of residential care has been a longstanding barrier to addiction recovery in the area, Owen added. It is a lack that means the area is losing good people — family members, sisters, friends and neighbors — to a disease just as terrible as any other life-threatening illness.
“It’s not ‘those’ people,” Brenda Owen said. “These are our brothers, fathers, mothers and our sisters. It’s our own people. We forget that it’s not ‘those’ people.”
She has taken many calls personally from people desperate to find a treatment facility for a family member right away.
“Those are the worst calls to take,” she said, “When you have a parent calling, looking for help for their adult child, a grandparent who has the grandchildren, and there’s no help. That is a frequent call. It’s not every day, but it’s frequent.”
Brenda and George said funding has been the biggest obstacle in their effort so far.
“All of the other places we looked at would have cost three to four times as much to get up to code as this building, and didn’t come with any land,” Brenda Owen said. “Just one sprinkler system would have been the cost of this whole building (in McKenzie County.)”
One facility they looked at would have taken a million dollars, but they also wanted a contract that if the center were to vacate, they would pay $50 million to dismantle the facility.
“And it didn’t come with any property,” Brenda Owen said.
The property in McKenzie County, meanwhile, is $300,000 with 20 acres, and can be remodeled to their needs.
“We would have plenty of room for recreational areas, and it’s a mile from the nearest homestead,” Brenda Owen said.