Dozens of Islanders suffering from addiction have found their way to off-Island detox centers through a program organized last year by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Last November, with support from an anonymous donor, the two health care providers forged an agreement with Gosnold on Cape Cod, a treatment center in Falmouth, and Stanley Street Treatment and Resources (SSTAR) in Fall River to give Islanders easier access to detox facilities that do not exist on the Vineyard.

Fifty-seven people used the program between last November and April, according to data from Community Services provided to the Gazette. This week Community Services and the hospital plan to sign an agreement with a third detox center, at AdCare Hospital in Dartmouth.

“Having access to the beds has allowed us to service this population much more effectively,” said Dianne MacKellar, a longtime mental health counselor and a member of a substance abuse disorder team at the hospital. “The time that it used to take to do a bed search and hold somebody in the ER for a day or two while we tried to get them a bed — it’s just been a godsend.”

The program is halfway through a yearlong pilot phase, but Community Services executive director Juliette Fay said it may become more permanent after November. “We are going to see how we finish up at the end of the year,” she said.

In the program’s first six months, 32 people entered detox by way of Community Services and 25 through the hospital. Among those placed by community services, 18 went to Gosnold on Cape Cod, 11 to SSTAR and three to AdCare. More than three quarters of the patients were men, with the largest portion in their 50s. Of the six women who used the service, three were as young as their 20s.

Three quarters of the patients surveyed by Community Services reported alcohol as their substance of choice, with some also listing cocaine or marijuana. Only the last 12 patients were surveyed.

The hospital reports that eight of the 25 people it placed in detox were suffering from opiate addiction, including some brought to the emergency department after being treated with Narcan for an overdose. Ms. Fay said that while alcohol abuse is a longstanding problem on the Island, the hospital tends to funnel people with more severe addictions. “Which is good, because that means we are covering both sides of it,” she said.

The hospital reports that attendance at regular narcotics anonymous meetings on the Island have grown from between eight and ten people to as many as 30 in the last year.

Ms. Fay said she doesn’t think the abundance of male patients is necessarily representative of everyone suffering from addiction. “The stigma attached for substance use for women is much more acute,” she said, “so the number of women who self-report or surface is usually less. That’s the prevailing theory.”

She said before last year, getting into a detox center in general was often a long and arduous process, with travel to the mainland presenting a major hurdle. “It usually took a very long time for somebody to identify a bed, and then you didn’t know really where the bed was going to be,” Ms. Fay said, noting that people could end up anywhere in the state a bed was available.

With a year-round population of 16,000, she said the Island could not support its own detox facility, which would depend on a steady stream of both revenue and patients to keep it going. Ms. MacKellar said patients can still chose to go to any facility they want, although the new program helps place them much more quickly.

According to the agreement, patients who come to Community Services or the Island hospital are given immediate access to the first open beds in the off-Island facilities. If a patient can’t get to the center in time, or if there is a change in plans, then the Island providers cover the cost of the bed for a day.

The agreement also provides an option for patients to have a recovery coach transport them to and from the detox center to help make sure the transitions go smoothly. The recovery coach will also work with counselors at the center to lay out the next steps for when the patient returns to the Island.

Ms. Fay said the program is part of a care continuum that includes a new three-month outpatient program through Community Services called New Paths, and a program for administering the relapse-prevention drug Vivitrol. She said a similar program for administering Suboxone, which can reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, is also in the works.

In May, the hospital and Community Services signed an agreement to convert a small building on hospital grounds known as the Red House into a crisis stabilization unit. Ms. Fay said a patient returning from detox off-Island could possibly spend a week or two at the Red House to help them readjust.

Ms. MacKellar agreed that the new detox program helps fill a major gap in the care continuum for Islanders suffering from addiction. “It was discouraging in the past when the message was, it’s really hard to get a bed, or oh you have to wait six weeks,” she said. “We are really serving the population much more effectively.”