In an effort to raise awareness and advance support efforts for more resources, State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli hosted a gathering of local psychiatrists, addiction treatment specialists, police chiefs, town and school officials and others Monday. The meeting was held at the Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service. Not at their Pittsfield offices, or even in North Adams, but at the Brien Center's location on Cottage Street in Great Barrington.

If you're surprised to hear that, that's part of the problem. Pignatelli said a lot of people seeking affordable help think they need to go to Pittsfield. As reported in the Berkshire Eagle, the Cottage Street location's office manager Shawn Mille said around 700 clients from the tri-state area are using the center's outpatient services.

Local abuse specialists say more services are needed, especially more treatment beds, but Pignatelli pointed out that money and location are obstacles to be overcome. The pervasive stigma attached to addiction is another, according to Brien Center President and CEO Christine Macbeth. She told the group the Center is "committed toward South County."  Pignatelli said it's now time to take ideas and make them into specific plans which could be used in future funding proposals.