HealthAl­liance con­fer­ence aims to elim­i­nate neg­a­tive im­pres­sions of treat­ment

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­ pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

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.

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