Private substance-abuse facility to open in Tribeca

By Aline Reynolds

A new facility for recovering alcoholics and substance abusers will open on West Broadway in August, and the community is giving its support.

The Hazelden Foundation, a private addiction treatment organization based in Minnesota, will offer lodging, counseling and mentorship to young adults ages 18 to 29 for six to 12 months at a time. The foundation purchased a six-story building at 283 West Broadway in December that was recently gutted and transformed into a brand-new living space.

Manhattan is starved for centers that cater to addicts working toward sobriety, according to Mark Mishek, president and chief executive officer of Hazelden, who presented the plan to the Community Board 1 Tribeca Committee last week. A survey that Hazelden sent out to some 85 universities and colleges in the tri-state area showed a strong need for the facility in the borough.

“It’s a huge opportunity to be able to make a difference with a population that really has a need here,” he said. “We have to provide them with an environment where they can be successful, healthy and productive citizens who are sober.”

The center will target youths that are enrolled in nearby colleges. Though the facility will not serve as an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting spot, it will offer counseling, a 12-step abstinence program and other services for addicts on the road to recovery.

The group counseling sessions will also be open to community members from Downtown and around the city.

The center will forge partnerships with mental-health service providers, according to Mishek, since alcoholism is often coupled with anxiety, depression and other mental disorders. It will also collaborate with schools’ health-service departments to help evaluate and treat the resident youths.

The foundation will be announcing a partnership with a nearby major medical center in the next week, Mishek said.

Youths will be encouraged to stay at the residence over the summer to participate in internships or fellowships, and, down the line, the center hopes to help them secure full- and part-time jobs.

The former addicts will face tremendous temptations to drink and do drugs, both on and off school grounds.

“With the support and sobriety life they’re going to be living, they’ll have to be comfortable walking by the bar when they come home,” said Mishek.

“This is a badly needed facility,” said Jean Grillo, a Tribeca Democratic district leader and public member of C.B. 1. “We need the ability to treat young people who have drug and alcohol addiction issues.”

Treating college students in the neighborhood they live in, she said, is ideal.

“We could all be sober on a desert island,” she said. “It makes sense to have treatment in the community so you can deal with the temptations.”

It also saves families the typically high costs, she said, of sending the youths to out-of-state facilities.

Security cameras inside the building will monitor activity, there will be a curfew, and at least one staff member will be on site 16 hours a day, seven days a week. The staff will also conduct periodic searches for booze and drugs to make sure the young adults are staying sober.

Meshik plans to attend the next First Precinct Community Council meeting to present the plans for the new Downtown center and address any safety or security concerns residents have.

Lodging fees have yet to be determined, Mishek said, but the costs will parallel the average prices of off-campus college dorm rooms. Students will be able to pay using college loans and other means of financial assistance.