CANAAN — Mountainside Treatment Center’s Family Wellness program is one more step in the Canaan facility’s determined efforts to provide innovative and effective recovery and support services to those who need to heal in tandem with their addicted loved ones.
The Family Support Groups at Mountainside are open to parents, spouses, children, friends, and others whose loved ones have struggled with drug or alcohol misuse. Group members are encouraged to share their stories, setbacks, and successes with those who have encountered similar challenges.
“Family involvement is very important to fostering success and growth related to a loved one’s recovery,” said Amy Sedgwick, director of clinical operations at Mountainside. “Getting families involved helps the families heal and find healthy ways to communicate with their loved one as well as consider ways to enforce boundaries and expectations. It also allows the client to feel supported and valued, and to feel less ashamed of their problem. Addiction doesn’t just impact the one using; it impacts the entire family system. Getting the family involved creates a system of improved wellness that will promote healing.”
Sedgwick said that Mountainside has been “expanding its footprint” to additional communities to provide services to people struggling with substance use disorders and co-morbidity. “Understanding that addiction knows no bounds, not all communities have sufficient resources,” she added. Mountainside opened its first outpatient location beyond Connecticut in Chappaqua, N.Y., in 2018. Mountainside intends to continue expanding in order to serve more families and communities in need of effective treatment. “We look forward to opening a new outpatient location in Huntington, N.Y., this summer.”
Speaking on the newly launched family support groups, Carolee Paruta, regional director of outpatient services at Mountainside, said, “When a loved one suffers from addiction, families usually want to provide for them in any way they can — sometimes at the expense of their own well-being. By participating in a support group, families learn the importance of prioritizing their own needs and surrounding themselves with others who want to see them succeed.”
The groups give participants the opportunity to speak with a Family Wellness Clinician, who can offer coping strategies, as well as greater insight into the nature of addiction. In doing so, group members acquire the resources and knowledge to enhance their own parallel process of recovery.
Paruta said that because addiction can strain familial relationships, loved ones must learn how to manage feelings of resentment, anger, sadness, and fear before healing can begin. Family Support Groups are a vital source of reassurance and empowerment for those recovering from a loved one’s drug addiction or alcoholism. The group will meet every fourth Wednesday of the month from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
In light of the opioid epidemic that is “devastating” some communities across the country, Mountainside has deepened its commitment to providing Medication-Assisted Treatment to clients who need addiction medicines to stay on track with their recovery. Said Sedgwick, “Our investment has paid off, and we remain on the cutting edge of advancements in MATs.”
In 2018, Mountainside became one of the first addiction treatment centers to offer Sublocade — a monthly injectable buprenorphine product for the treatment of moderate to severe opioid use disorders. Mountainside now offers naltrexone in the oral form or injectable form, as well as buprenorphine in the sublingual form or injectable form. These types of treatment block patients’ opioid receptors and provide a measure of comfort and stability while they engage in clinical care and self-help services.
Said Sedgwick, “Mountainside has been providing care for over 21 years, and we realized that we needed to enhance Medication-Assisted Treatment as a way to protect our clients and keep them engaged in treatment.”
Explaining the current challenges in treating opioid use and addiction, Sedgwick observed that the rise in fentanyl has “really increased” the risks involved with opiates. “Two bags of heroin today can look very similar but can have different compositions. One can have dangerously high quantities of fentanyl and can be far riskier than the other bag, unbeknownst to the user.”
Testing for opiates and particularly fentanyl hasn’t caught up with the severity of the need. Rapid testing for fentanyl has its own set of barriers and lack of availability that providers are dealing with. Due to the spike in drug overdoses, treatment providers are striving to create greater accessibility to services, including the availability of Medication-Assisted Treatment options said Sedgwick.
Managed care has made providing patient care more challenging, with managed care denials “compromising the safety and well-being of clients who need to remain in treatment,” said Sedgwick. “Managed care dictates how long they believe someone should receive care, from safe medical detoxification to residential care, to psychiatric and initial therapy services. Managed care also creates additional work load for staff to plead for additional time in order to keep clients in treatment, allowing them to meet their goals and stabilize. This advocacy for client care can be every three to five days for someone’s full length of their stay. The complexity of managed care and authorizations adds unnecessary concern to patients already burdened by the toll their addiction created.”
To make matters even more difficult for care providers and managers, alcohol is still a concern and a major issue, impacting all demographic groups. In 2018, roughly 69 percent of people admitted into Mountainside Treatment Center had an alcohol use disorder. Sedgwick explains, “These were people struggling to function in their lives while failing to meet family, work, and social obligations. These were people who identified that they needed support to stop drinking and to find healthier ways to manage their lives.”
In a study from 2017 and according to the Centers for Disease Control, 30 percent of all high school students have consumed alcohol. “It is well known that the earlier one exposes their brain to alcohol consumption, the more likely they are to abuse other drugs, have school and social problems, and have a higher risk of legal involvement,” commented Sedgwick. “Every two minutes in our country, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash. Alcohol is still a problem with today’s youth through adulthood.”
Andre Basso, COO of Mountainside Treatment Center, said his facility’s mission statement is “to raise the standard in comprehensive addiction treatment and provide an unsurpassed treatment experience to our clients.” He added, “Since our inception, 21 years ago, we have worked hard to innovate addiction treatment. We have always taken a mind, body, spirit approach to treatment by combining adventuring therapy and other holistic practices like yoga and acupuncture with more traditional clinical therapies.”
He said the facility has enhanced its programming with data and analytics that provide “the extra support our clients need as they journey along the recovery path toward a sober, happy life.” Basso added, “Having helped almost 14,000 clients so far, I believe we are, in fact, fulfilling our mission statement.”
Unfortunately, addiction is a growing problem in our society, opined Basso. “Reliable, evidence-based treatment is more necessary than ever. Mountainside applies cutting-edge medication, specialized and integrated programming, and reliable data to prescribe treatment that meets the unique needs and interests of each client. As a result, we can deliver improved outcomes and give our clients a higher chance of a long-lasting recovery.”
To inquire about the family support groups and other programs, call Mountainside at 800-762-5433. Visit www.mountainside.com for more information.