Need for tolerance, more treatment emphasized at South Berkshire opioid support session

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Photo Gallery | Opioid addiction meeting at Berkshire South Community Center

GREAT BARRINGTON — A little more tolerance, a bit more awareness and a lot more treatment and outpatient facilities.

Those were three main themes Tuesday night during a support session for opioid addicts and their friends and family.

About 30 people were in attendance on Tuesday night at the South Berkshire Community Center. In addition to those battling addiction, there were friends, family, the curious, town officials and police.

The meeting was chaired by Jennifer Wheeler, a recovering addict who founded D.O.P.E. (Discussing Our Personal Experiences), which initially was a Facebook family with more than 500 friends. Wheeler recently decided to convene the group for face-to-face discussions.

The meetings are biweekly and begin at 7 p.m. The next meeting is April 26.

The main speaker, a woman from Pittsfield, discussed her descent into addiction, and subsequent recovery.

"I knew I needed help," she said. "But getting help was scarier than using to me at the time."

She entered treatment, she said, and has been clean for six years.

But, she said, she is aware of how easy it would be to relapse, "and I'm terrified of that, still."

She spoke of the need for more awareness — and tolerance — of addiction and its problems.

"People don't want to seek treatment because they don't want their neighbors to know they're drug addicts," she said.

There was a call for a Narcotics Anonymous meeting site in South Berkshire. There are presently meetings in Pittsfield and meetings in Canaan, Conn., just over the state line.

Others called for more treatment facilities in the area.

There are currently waiting lists for many facilities and the length of a stay is shortened, said one man.

"You're in there for seven days," he said. "And after five, they take away your medication for the last two days. By the time I get out, the first thing I want to do is use again."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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