KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Feb. 17, the Metro Drug Coalition will host its “Dopesick: Beyond the Book and Show” panel. The hit Hulu series takes a look at the opioid epidemic. The panel hopes to provide a new perspective in the fight against opioid abuse, and learn how a Hollywood series is a reality for our region.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Knoxville’s first community recovery center called The Gateway. It’s still under construction in North Knoxville, and Metro Drug Coalition is hopeful it will be a unique hub that brings vital resources to one place.

MDC Director of Recovery Support Services, Jason Goodman, can envision perfectly what the still unfinished center will become.

“When you come down this main hallway, one of the things that we’re most excited about is this space that you’ll enter into when you step through this door. This entire open area becomes a conference room that seats up to 100 people,” Goodman points out.

He walked WATE through every room – each with a purpose to help those struggling with addiction find long-term recovery.

“This will be our art room. We plan on having art therapy classes here. Having easels, paper, anything art related in this room,” Goodman explained. “If music is your thing, then this is going to be the space where you’ll be able to participate in things like that. We’ll have hopefully drum sets, guitars, keyboards, that kind of thing.”

“The idea is to have a safe space where people can connect with others in recovery because we all need each other,” MDC Executive Director Karen Pershing said. “Especially people early in recovery, you need that accountability piece, you need to be able to recreate in a safe place. We’ll have things like pool tables and workout equipment because you’re replacing negative health behaviors with positive ones.”

Construction on the project started over the summer and the goal is to have The Gateway up and running by the end of May 2022.

“We hope that this can be a one-stop aftercare plan,” said Goodman. “That folks that leave incarceration, that leave a treatment center, that leave the hospital, where do I go now to continue a healthy process? We want folks to be able to say, ‘Go to The Gateway.'”