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SweetserThe Basics

Sweetser may sound like a character in a movie, but it’s really a behavioral health organization in Brunswick, Maine. Sweetser’s origins date back to the late 19th century; it was originally formed when four orphanages joined together. The modern organization was founded in the 1970’s as a multi-service facility that helps clients with emotional disturbances, mental illnesses, behavioral disorders and learning disabilities. Sweetser has multiple offices and affiliates, too; it is in more than 75 communities in Maine and has a staff of 600 in addition to its volunteers.

Five of Sweetser’s many offices offer outpatient treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders: Brunswick (pictured), Saco, Sanford, Belfast and Rockland. Psychological assessments as well as individual and group therapy are offered to clients whether they are in the stages of early intervention, active recovery or relapse prevention.

Treatment and Staff

The highest level of care at Sweetser is outpatient treatment and while this includes psychiatric services and medication management for co-occurring disorders, there are no detox or residential services.

The Sweetser methodology is not anti 12-step, but it does not base its program in 12-step methodology. Clients are given meeting information to do with as they please. The format of Sweetser’s outpatient program is individual therapy (unlike many facilities, which use group therapy as the primary method). Clients have a psychoeducational curriculum, where they learn about the cycle of addiction and its effects. Therapists work with clients on how to reform their behavior and re-imagine their lives as well as how to identify and handle real world triggers to use. Periodically, there are also relapse prevention and process groups where clients can discuss issues with peers. For these groups, clients are separated into adult and adolescent cohorts. Some choose to combine their individual therapy with an outside Intensive Outpatient (IOP) or Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). Sweetser therapists are quick to refer these clients to the appropriate local resources.

Sweetser’s team is far reaching; it includes a myriad of professionals—doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, therapists, counselors and support staff. It also partners with independently LSWs and clinicians who treat substance abuse and mental health issues in their own practices. These affiliates are under the Sweetser umbrella, but operate from their own locations.


Sweetser has a family group for loved ones of clients in substance abuse treatment, providing peer support and addiction education.

They also offer many other programs outside of substance abuse services including adventure-based learning for kids, veterans services, crisis and medication management and housing assistance—the list goes on.

In Summary

Sweetser’s addiction program is unconventional and all of the ancillary mental health services could benefit someone with difficult dual diagnosis issues. The cost of treatment is $95 an hour (the estimated cost for a month below is based on Sweetser’s general prescription for treatment—a two-hour substance abuse evaluation and two hours of therapy per week). For those interested in individual therapy instead of group therapy, Sweetser could hit the spot.

Sweetser Executive Office
50 Moody St
Saco, ME 04072-0892

Sweetser Cost: $950 (30 days). Reach Sweetser by phone at (800) 434-3000 or by email. Find Sweetser on Google+ and Facebook

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