KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Gateway, a Metro Drug Coalition (MDC) recovery community center, just celebrated it’s first year in operation, in which it provided individuals struggling with addiction nearly 23,000 services.

MDC Executive Director Karen Pershing explained that while the center has only been open for a year, the organization began research as early as 2018 into recovery resources and found that it takes between 18 and 24 months for an addicted brain to heal.

“Knowing that people, generally speaking, maybe get 30 days of treatment, so when they come out of treatment, their brains are not fully healed yet, and so they’re very vulnerable, especially those first two years of returning to use, so we started looking at what could MDC do to kind of fill that gap and help support individuals coming out of treatment until they can reach the point where their brains are connected again and they’re making good decisions for themselves?” Pershing said.

During their research, MDC found the concept of recovery community centers, and visited a couple of centers across the country to learn what kinds of services they offered and what outcomes they were seeing. Plans for the center were announced in 2019, construction began in 2021 and it opened in September of 2022.

Pershing said MDC was a little nervous while developing Knoxville‘s first recovery community center. that it might not be used, but instead, she said they were happy to see nearly 23,000 services delivered in their first year.

“People really appreciate the services that we offer here and recommend other individuals to come here to receive services has been incredible. We are seeing miracles happen every day in this facility and it’s just it’s exciting to see it all come together and seeing people benefit from the services,” Pershing said.

The Gateway maintains a calendar on their website of different meetings happening, including all recovery meetings, mindfulness meetings, yoga, music therapy, spiritual principals, and even a men’s domestic violence intervention called “Healing the Home.” Click here to view the calendar.

Early in recovery, the part of the brain responsible for insight, judgement, and empathy gets disconnected from the rest of the brain, Pershing explained. She said this leaves people in active addiction in a place where they are not necessarily rationalizing decisions and thoughts as they need to in order to resist the cravings for substances as someone whose brain is working better may be more able to.

The Gateway helps by providing additional supports and on-going recovery to those transitioning from addiction treatment back into the community and those who are seeking recovery and need someone to walk with them while they navigate their path to recovery, MDC’s website said. Pershing added that these resources help people maintain their recovery over a period of time.

“Having a support system and a community of individuals. Who can kind of help you navigate those times early in your recovery process helps them maintain recovery over a period of time and recovery is a Journey. It’s a lifelong journey, and so there are ups and downs in that process,” Pershing said. “Being able again to have that support system and that network so that they don’t give up hope and understand that each day they have to make a commitment to maintaining their sobriety is really what we’re all about. And what we’re here for.”

The Gateway is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. To learn more about the Gateway, visit Metro Drug Coalition’s website.