HealthAlliance conference aims to eliminate negative impressions of treatment
KINGSTON>> Reducing the stigma of drug treatment so that more people might seek the help they need was the topic of the 22nd Annual HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley Addiction Medicine and Recovery Conference, held last week.
“Right now, there are over 200 patients in the methadone program,” said Allen Nace, HealthAlliance’s administrative director of addiction treatment services.
The vast majority, Nace said, are “invisible” patients — those whose addiction either isn’t obvious or is known only to the person’s friends and family.
Yet it is the minority of clients — Nace estimates around 15 percent — that is either unable or unwilling to get or stay clean yet ultimately serves as the face of addiction.
“That’s what some people in the public and some in the treatment world would identify as the typical client, and it’s just really the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
“When we talk about removing the stigma so that people come into treatment, we need them to know that the 15 percent is the exception,” Nace said. “We need to reduce the stigma so that people are more willing and there’s less reluctance to get into treatment.”
At the conference, treatment providers, elected officials, members of the judiciary, human services providers and members of the community who have been affected by addiction gathered to discuss how best to spread that message, not only within the treatment community but in the community at large, Nace said.
“Joan down the street isn’t just an addict,” Nace said. “She may also be a mother, a wife, a sister. She may belong to the book club.
“If it’s not in your family, keep looking,” he said, “because very few families are not impacted.”
In addition to discussing ways to remove the stigma associated with seeking treatment for opioid addiction, Nace said conference attendees discussed the meaning of terms like “success” and “harm reduction” so they could see how those terms have different meanings to different people, as well as new services that could help draw people to and keep them in treatment programs.
Earlier this year, the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services granted HealthAlliance, which operates Kingston’s two hospitals, a waiver allowing it to exceed the 200-patient cap placed on the number of people it can serve in its methadone clinic and awarded it a $74,467 grant to expand its facility to accommodate the additional clients.
Nace said the program currently has 222 clients and another 23 currently being processed Additionally, he said, HealthAlliance operates a 10-bed inpatient detox program and a 10-bed inpatient rehabilitation program, as well as the Bridge Back day treatment program.