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Hope and Healing

ACCESS Recovery Center to be a lifeline for those struggling with substance use disorder


By Maha Freij, President and CEO, ACCESS


At ACCESS, we are acutely aware of the increasingly compelling need to provide support for those challenged by substance use disorder. In 2021, drug overdose deaths nationwide hit an all-time high, and rates in Michigan reached record levels for the second year in a row. We have been working with this tragic issue for many years, providing prevention, therapy and support services, but given the current crisis, we knew it was time to take the next step. 

For me personally, a funeral I attended in 2019 was the turning point. When I went to the Muslim cemetery, I was stunned that almost every fresh grave I passed was that of a young person – 18, 23, 25, 28 years old. I could not ignore it. That day, the problem became so very real to me, and I knew we had to commit to addressing this devastating problem. 

That’s when we began taking more concrete steps to develop what is now the ACCESS Recovery Center. In our discussions, there was a sense of vulnerability. It wasn't only the financial challenges of establishing a dedicated care facility in our community, but also the understanding of the immense effort needed to do this heart-wrenching work. Yet as a grassroots organization that has always been a beacon of hope in the most tumultuous times, standing alongside the community when it needs us most, all of us at ACCESS knew we had no choice but to travel this difficult path. It chose us because the community needed us, and we knew it was imperative that we move forward.

There is no other resource like this – especially for our community, which is often hesitant to talk about substance use due to serious stigma. There are also barriers to treatment success, including a lack of support services and the high cost of care. 

The ACCESS Recovery Center that we are building will take a holistic approach to treatment and recovery. We are bringing together the internal resources and external partnerships ACCESS has established over the years to create the kind of expert team that’s necessary to offer a community-centered approach to prevention, education and healing.   

The Center’s comprehensive range of services will include a crisis stabilization unit, inpatient detoxification, short-term residential care, and wraparound outpatient treatment. Highly trained professionals will provide medication-assisted treatment, clinical counseling, psychiatric care and more through an individualized recovery plan. 

Although we will have a unique focus on the linguistic and cultural needs of the Arab American community, everyone across the area is welcome in this inclusive space – regardless of their ability to pay. 

Will we experience vulnerability as we proceed with this important mission to help our community? Of course. But we will push through. Because we are deeply committed to the ACCESS Recovery Center’s promise to improve, transform and save lives. 



Our new ACCESS Recovery Center, slated to open in 2024, will house a comprehensive range of services to bring critical resources to our neighborhoods and region. Watch for more details as we continue moving forward.




Maha Freij is the President and Chief Executive Officer of ACCESS and has been a leading visionary in the Arab American community for more than 30 years, building philanthropy and strong institutions to strengthen her community’s voice in American society. Freij has also been a key leader in growing ACCESS from its roots as a regional human services organization to what it is today — a community builder nationwide. Under her leadership, ACCESS has successfully raised tens of millions of dollars for endowment building and numerous brick-and-mortar projects, including the first-ever Arab American National Museum in the United States. Her solid experience in management and operations, combined with her inspiring approach to philanthropy and community, has positioned ACCESS as the leading organization addressing the many complex issues that face the Arab American community.