Much has changed in the 40 years since Greenwich Hospital established the Alcohol Recovery Center, known today as the Addiction Recovery Center.
The emphasis on inpatient care has given way to outpatient care and telehealth services. Experts better understand the physiology behind addiction and recognize that relapse can be part of the recovery process for some individuals.
Today the need for comprehensive and compassionate care to assist people with substance use disorders is greater than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health experts are concerned people may be turning to alcohol and drugs to cope. Social distancing and the closure of public spaces due to the highly infectious coronavirus make it harder for people with substance use disorders to seek help, stick with treatment regimens and access social supports.
In response, ARC has expanded its telehealth capabilities due to the pandemic. “Telehealth has been very effective,” said Joshua Hrabosky, PsyD, program director, Outpatient Behavioral Health. “Patients feel safe and protected in their homes, while continuing to connect with their fellow group members and group leaders. We’re also reaching patients who might otherwise not have access to care.”
Unfortunately, Connecticut is on track to surpass its record total of 1,200 opioid fatalities of 2019. The American Medical Association recently raised concern about the increasing number of opioid-related overdoses nationwide during the pandemic. In addition, individuals with addiction problems could face greater risk related to COVID-19 because of the negative effects these substances have on the body’s respiratory and pulmonary systems.
ARC treats individuals facing substance use challenges with alcohol, opioids, cocaine, cannabis and sedatives. Close to 70 percent of patients have an alcohol use disorder and 17 percent are dependent on more than one substance.
“Addiction does not discriminate. We assist people from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Joseph Flynn, MD, a psychiatrist who serves as ARC’s medical director. “Stressors secondary to COVID-19 – unemployment, remote working and learning, juggling children’s schedules, health concerns, and fewer social connections – are contributing to using substances to cope and increasing the risk of relapse for those in recovery.”
Since opening, ARC has provided thousands of individuals the opportunity to confront their dependency and choose a new way of life. The team consists of social workers, counselors, registered nurses and a board-certified psychiatrist. Staff is knowledgeable in all aspects of chemical dependency, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids, sleep agents, marijuana, benzodiazepines and multiple substances of abuse. Staff also supports loved ones whose lives are often impacted by the patient’s illness.
“Our programs match the individual’s unique needs,” said Dr. Flynn. “We offer a continuum of care, from crisis intervention and initial diagnosis through outpatient group-based programs, individual treatments and medication management. Seeking treatment is the first step toward long-term recovery.”