For about 25 years, Chris Coose has worked as an alcohol and substance abuse counselor. He launched Top of the Hill, a state-licensed substance abuse treatment agency, in Portland about 12 years ago.
Coose is now on the verge of launching a satellite office in Damariscotta, providing an additional substance abuse treatment resource to Lincoln County.
Once the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office gives Coose the go-ahead to open his office in the Pine Grove Plaza in Damariscotta, which he expects to occur in mid-December, Coose will be able to see a limited number of clients to support them on their road to recovery.
Over the course of his career, there is “no question there’s been an upswing in opioid addiction,” Coose said. Despite the dramatic increase in addiction, addiction treatment resources are on the decline, Coose said, with the state’s largest substance abuse treatment center, the Mercy Recovery Center in Westbrook, closing its doors in 2015.
“With the decline of services, we have to do the best we can,” Coose said. “We have to continue.”
The opening of the satellite office was prompted by Coose’s slow transition to the area for retirement, he said. Coose recently purchased a house in South Bristol, which he plans to make his primary residence.
Coose opened two small businesses on his South Bristol property this year: MadDog Kayak and Canoe Rentals and South Bristol Fine Art & Antiques.
With Top of the Hill an established practice in Portland, Coose reduced his hours and his role there. The administration, supervision, and counseling services he provided during his tenure at Top of the Hill amounted to an enormous responsibility, but “I love my work,” he said.
By launching a part-time satellite office in Damariscotta, he will still be able to do the work he loves, albeit in a scaled-back manner.
Top of the Hill is an outpatient treatment provider that specializes in evaluations and individualized counseling, Coose said. After a long career working with nonprofits, Coose founded Top of the Hill to maintain autonomy and “push the limits of treatment programs,” he said.
Each of the four practitioners at Top of the Hill has their own history with substance abuse, he said, which they disclose to the people they serve.
While many substance abuse treatment resources also provide mental health services, Top of the Hill does not, instead directing all of its attention to its primary mission of treating alcohol and substance abuse.
“We keep it simple,” Coose said.
In cases of dual diagnosis, where there is also a mental health condition, Top of the Hill will refer out, he said. The simplicity and autonomy have contributed to the success of the practice, he said.
Top of the Hill provides a safe space for individuals struggling with substance abuse to come in for an evaluation, he said. Coose intends to re-create this safe space at his Damariscotta office.
“That’s one of the nice things we provide,” he said, noting that evaluations in large medical buildings are often intimidating. The evaluation process identifies the needs of each individual.
Sometimes, referrals to residential programs or mental health services are in order, he said. Other times, outpatient treatment will provide the support people need to achieve their short- and long-term goals.
The counseling services Coose provides cater to the unique needs of each individual, he said.
Coose also teaches driver education and evaluation programs courses, required for individuals charged with operating under the influence, and works with family members and loved ones of individuals struggling with substance abuse.
Treatment of alcoholism and opioid addiction are very different, Coose said. As an outpatient treatment provider, Top of the Hill sees many clients who are motivated in their recovery.
Top of the Hill works in concert with providers who can prescribe methadone and Suboxone for medication-assisted therapy, Coose said. Suboxone and methadone are prescription drugs that help ease the symptoms of withdrawal and curb cravings.
He hopes to build collaborative relationships with local providers through his new office.
The question of what drives people to substance abuse, or “causes and conditions,” has been debated in the substance abuse treatment community since Coose launched his career, he said.
“My approach is, no matter how you got here, you’ve got a new problem,” Coose said. “That’s what we’re here to help you with.”
For more information about Top of the Hill’s satellite office in Damariscotta, contact Chris Coose at 563-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.