BY MATTHEW S. ADAMS, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
A much-needed, women’s substance-abuse treatment center may be well on its way to the Eastern Shore, in the form of a 50-bed, 25,000-square-foot facility in Daphne. The Shoulder, currently a 40-bed state-certified facility on Coleman Lane in Spanish Fort, has assisted thousands of men overcome substance abuse and dependency problems since its inception in 1988.
After decades of success and the unplanned relocation of its initial Battleship Parkway location following Hurricane Katrina, the center is finally hoping to broaden its services to also include women experiencing addiction and chemical-dependency problems.
The Shoulder’s community value is perhaps best exemplified in the number of individuals it has helped; the current male-only facility saw over 281 participants complete its programs in 2018, most drawing from Baldwin and Mobile counties. The sheer numbers funneling from these localities should adequately stress the regional need of a similar site for women.
However, with no such facility in the area — the closest being located over three hours away in Dothan — area women have limited options, making a dedicated female treatment center a necessity along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
According to Kelsi Tippery, public relations director for The Shoulder, the center held the initial meeting of their capital campaign committee on Sept. 17, and the group has expressed high hopes for the fundraising and involvement capabilities of the local community.
“We are really excited about the development of our new women’s facility,” she said. “We really hope we can work together to highlight the importance of programs like this in our community.”
When asked what the center needs in order to open this new site for women, Tippery wished to express the importance of support from individual donors, corporate sponsors and grants, stressing the influence of support from outside entities. To this end, The Shoulder has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the necessary funds for the new treatment center, and will begin running a public service announcement on local talk radio station FM 106.5, encouraging donations and support from the local community in the coming months.
Additionally, community members are welcome to contact The Shoulder if they wish to serve on the capital campaign committee and help with ongoing fundraising efforts.
If funding allows, the new facility will consist of two levels of residential care: a high-intensity, 28-day program, as well as a separate area designated solely for longer, transitional treatments capable of housing individuals for longer stints, four to six months at a time. The blueprints for the proposed construction are currently available to the public through The Shoulder’s website, along with a list of ways individuals can help with the development of the new program site.
The Shoulder’s mission, as stated on their website, is “to restore individuals and their families … by providing quality, affordable treatment in a safe, secure, Christian environment.”
After the overwhelming success of their male-only facility, The Shoulder is determined to expand this promise to area women suffering from similar dependencies. According to the center’s fundraising site, there has been an over 400 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths in women since 1999. It’s a number steadily on the rise and one very rarely overcome alone.
Opioid use, along with alcoholism and other such addictions, will be addressed at the new facility through a number of strategies, including spirituality, 12-step and peer-support services, among many other techniques.
While women are noted as the fastest-growing number of alcohol and drug users in the United States, the demographic is often overlooked when exploring the subject of substance abuse. In support of the issue, the staff at The Shoulder hopes the implementation of a facility like the one proposed in Daphne will be a great help to those unwilling or unable to travel for expensive, out-of-town treatment options, and allow many to step out from the shadow — and perceived shame — of dependency and addiction problems.
More information is available at theshoulder.org. To donate, search “Shoulder of the Central Gulf Coast Inc.” on gofundme.com.
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