Katie Kinne

Grant allows expansion of Brien Center's addiction treatment, prevention for youth

Katie Kinne
Grant allows expansion of Brien Center's addiction treatment, prevention for youth

PITTSFIELD — A Brien Center program providing substance abuse prevention services and treatment for youth throughout the county has received a $100,000 grant from the Josephine and Louise Crane Foundation.

"Currently, we serve over 4,000 children and youth at the Brien Center," said James Mucia, director of the Child and Adolescent Services division. "As addiction problems continue to increase, this grant will allow our staff to be prepared for working with youth and their families to beat addiction issues."

Mucia said staff of the Patrick Miller Youth Substance Abuse Program work with middle and high schools throughout the county, and the grant will allow an expansion of services in North County and elsewhere. Staff members trained in Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine-recognized addiction prevention programs visit participating schools, he said, focusing on the needs identified at each.

Services include speaking events, prevention programs in classrooms, screening for students who believe they are developing an addiction problem or are referred by school officials, as well as parental education concerning addictions issues and community education initiatives, Mucia said.

"This grant will enable us to expand the delivery of prevention education services to youth in our community," said Christine Macbeth, CEO of the Brien Center. "Given the seriousness of the current opioid epidemic in the Massachusetts, treatment is often the focus. This grant allows us to work on the preventative measures that will reduce the number of youth and young adults falling into substance dependency."

Mucia said funding for the Miller Youth Substance Abuse Program is provided by Berkshire United Way, Northern Berkshire United Way, Williamstown Community Chest and from grants. A large multi-year grant obtained by the Pittsfield Public Schools several years ago allowed for an expansion of the staff, he said, but that funding has since run dry.

"This will be really, really helpful," he said of the Crane Foundation grant.

Concerning the comprehensive state legislation addressing opioid addiction, which was signed Monday by Gov. Charlie Baker, Mucia said it is too early to gauge the impact on Brien Center programs for youth. But he said student screening requirements could result in an increase in the number of youth being referred for addiction treatment services.

The Patrick Miller Youth Substance Abuse Program is a community-based program that provides education, prevention, intervention, screening and outpatient services to address substance use and abuse among Berkshire County youth. For youth with substance use disorders, the Brien Center provides comprehensive assessment, individual and group counseling, and intensive addiction treatment.

Staff includes a psychiatrist and licensed counselors trained in both mental health and addiction treatment, with a specialty in adolescents. The success of the program is demonstrated in a documented reduction in adolescent substance use in communities where the program is present, according to a media release.

The Patrick Miller Youth Substance Abuse Program was founded by B. John and Rosaleen Miller of Pittsfield in memory of their son, Patrick, who died of an accidental overdose, after a long struggle with addiction.

The Brien Center is a community-based, non-profit agency serving about 10,000 children, teens, and adults each year. More information is available at www.briencenter.org.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.