With limited options on the North Shore, Malden looks to offer recovery services

MALDEN, Mass. — Calls for communities to step up in the crisis gripping Methadone Mile as the City of Malden takes active efforts to one day provide services to people north of the city. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh believes it's one piece of the long-term solution in a state-wide issue.

Mayor Walsh is applauding Malden for stepping up to the plate as it prepares to file an application to open a recovery center there.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson tells Boston 25 News that the city could serve 12 different North Shore communities lacking recovery services. That deficiency is one of the many reasons why so many people descend on Boston’s South End daily to get help.

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"There isn't anything offered between Boston and all the way up to Lawrence," said Christenson.
For the Malden mayor, the reality of what those leaving detox are faced with north of Boston is a large gap, which leaves limited options.

"That's a big swath of cities and towns that don't have anything between someone coming from detox and actual recovering," he said. "This is our way of trying to answer to that call."

Malden is preparing to file an application with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in their efforts to open a recovery center on Commercial Street. The Mayor says this is not a methadone clinic.

That center would offer services to 12 different North Shore communities in between Boston and Lawrence.

"You would think an issue like this someone would say, 'that's not something we want here,' but we haven't heard that," the Malden mayor said.

"There's nothing here for any recovery center for 25 miles north," said Paul Hammersley, an addiction recovery resource specialist with the Malden Health Department. "Going in toward Boston, it's 13 miles."

Hammersley says the cluster of services currently being offered in the area branded with the negative nickname, 'Methadone Mile' is bursting at the seams.

Those services are overwhelmed, with not enough help being offered in the communities where many live.

"The bottom line is they don't have enough help there," Hammersley said. "The rest of the state has to mirror that, and it all comes down to funding."

As neighbors and businesses caught up in ground zero of the crisis anxiously wait for a solution, patience is running thin.

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One local pizza shop owner showed Boston 25 News video of a man with a gun allegedly assaulting one of his employees. That owner calls the act a common occurrence.

Business owner and neighbors, who have provided troubling footage of their own, describe an increasing number of encounters with people who have problems.

"I'd like to see some of these programs spread out," said Walsh. "We are not asking for a lot, we are asking people to make sure there are adequate programs in your communities that people can access so they don't have to go all the way to Boston to get treatment."

"I would think that if we had something nearby that would help address some of what's occurring in Boston," said Mayor Christenson.

There are currently 18 recovery centers sprinkled across the state of Massachusetts, a place for those who have detoxed to go during the day for counseling and other services.

Malden city leaders say they’re hoping to receive funding of up to $350,000 from the state once their application is submitted.