New community center in Bethlehem aims to help families impacted by substance use


We often hear of recovery centers opening to help people overcome drug addictions. There was a ribbon of cutting of a recovery center of a different kind Friday.

OASIS Community Healing Center on Bath Pike in Bethlehem is now open.

Its purpose, though, is not to serve those trying to overcome substance abuse, but to help family and loved ones who have experienced a drug-related loss, or are impacted by a loved one's active substance use.

"It's been a dream of mine for many, many years," said Rhonda Miller, the center's executive director.

What started as an idea that stemmed from a conversation in a parking lot after a Northampton County community meeting 23 weeks ago is now a reality for Miller.

Miller knows all too well the need for the Oasis Center. She lost her son Ben to opioid addiction three years ago.

"Families often get overlooked, because the person who suffers from substance abuse needs so much help that the focus is completely on them and they really do need a lot of help, but as a result they get caretaker's burnout," Miller said.

The OASIS Community Healing Center will offer support groups, as well as cooking classes, art therapy and yoga to help heal the mind and spirit. In this day and age, the need could not be greater.

"The need is really tremendous, so as you can imagine in PA, we've lost about 5,000 people a year for the past several years to opioid overdoses, and so you see that number of alone tell you how many families are impacted across the CommonWealth," said Jennifer Smith with the PA Dept. of Drug and Alcohol Program.

Brenda Deckman is a volunteer at the center and also a mother who lost her son to opioids. She wishes there had a been a place like this when she was coping with her son's addiction and now loss.

She believes that the Oasis center will not only help families, but those battling the addiction.