On National Recovery Month, with addiction rates soaring, Recovery Centers of America reminds us that saving one life saves many
Authored by Ken Redmile
“This is serious business; lives are at stake. We do everything we can to relieve the suffering and stigma of substance use disorders. We save lives by helping individuals find recovery and supporting their families and communities in the process…“
– Dr. Heidi Ginter, RCA Chief Medical Officer for Massachusetts
When Recovery Centers of America helps even one person break free from addiction, we help every person that is impacted by that person’s substance use – family, friends, coworkers, therapists, law enforcement, and the list goes on and on.
During this National Recovery Month, with substance use disorder rates at an all-time high, RCA reminds us that freeing one life from the grip of addiction impacts entire communities. RCA treats hundreds of individuals a day, collaterally helping countless communities of people every year end their suffering, too.
“My addiction destroyed my family,” says Vincent Douglas, alumni coordinator at RCA’s Bracebridge Hall in Maryland. “I had burned every bridge. In my mind, the only options I had left were death or jail. I went into treatment, at first, just to feel better. But here I am, 7 years sober. I’m a dad now. I’m a coach. When I healed, everyone else could heal.”
Douglas started abusing pills as a young teen, then got hooked on heroin. He spent every day, all day, for more than a decade feeding that addiction. His moment of clarity came, and he chose life. Now he works at Recovery Centers of America helping others start and maintain their sobriety journey.
“There’s still a stigma associated with addiction recovery,” Douglas said. “It’s time to recover out loud so other people can see that addiction is a disease, and we have the solution.”
Serious Treatment for Serious Problems
RCA is committed to saving lives. Expanding its mental health treatment enables RCA to treat underlying causes of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Dr. Peter Vernig joined the team with the focus of expanding RCA’s behavioral health strategy.
“We already provide mental health services in our existing programs for people with co-occurring disorders,” Vernig said. “What we have done is expand to treat people whose primary concern is mental illness, with or without a drug or alcohol use problem.”
Vernig, a renowned psychologist with decades in the mental health field, says when a person’s coping mechanisms – such as drugs or alcohol – are peeled away, that’s when mental health issues can start to come to the forefront.
“We address more than just the substance use, which is often a symptom. We treat the underlying illness which is the source of the problem: it can be depression, anxiety, trauma, or other issues,” Vernig said. “By treating the source at RCA, not just symptoms, a person may have a better chance to achieve lasting recovery.”
Recognizing the growing need, mental health treatment is offered with or without a substance use disorder. And evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment programs are customized to each person’s individual needs. Programs include PRISE, Discover, Evolutions, RESCU, Frontline, Thrive and Balance.
No one knows better about the ripple effects of addiction than the staff at RCA, many of whom once sought treatment at one of our many facilities, then found purpose in employment here so they could give back and help others in need.
“As we recover, our families recover,” Douglas said. “As I recover, my entire community recovers, my friends recover, my family, even people you don’t even know.”
Recovery Month kicks off today with observance of International Overdose Awareness Day. Drug and alcohol abuse has risen sharply in recent years. The pandemic was no friend to addiction, exacerbating an already rampant problem. Drug overdose deaths rose another 15% in 2021, with more than 107,000 falling victim. Alcohol-related deaths continue to be responsible for over 5% of all deaths worldwide.
Fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids, are the latest growing threat, terrorizing communities and claiming more lives each year. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin which can lead to rapid overdose and death. It is often mixed with heroin and other non-opioid drugs, putting many unsuspecting drug users at risk. RCA is leading the way with therapies and programs to combat this new threat.
Dr. Heidi Ginter, RCA’s Chief Medical Officer for Massachusetts, knows all too well the devastation being created by fentanyl. The New England states have been hit particularly hard.
“Fentanyl is so potent, we have adjusted our medication protocols to ensure patients feel comfortable fast,” Ginter says. “If a patient’s withdrawal symptoms can be managed quickly and effectively, that person will be better positioned to do the ongoing work in their recovery.”
Dr. Ginter uses every tool – medication and behavioral techniques – at her disposal to help people stay alive and engaged in treatment.
We’ve Heard All The Excuses; The Time is Always Right Now
Getting someone to finally say ‘Yes’ to treatment can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.
“I justified my addiction in any way I could,” Douglas said. “I had a million excuses to keep using, but my addiction left a huge wake of destruction for not only myself but everyone around me. It’s like when you’re an addict, the people around you are forced to be addicts, too. Getting clean saved my life and let everyone dealing with my addiction finally heal.”
“There literally is no excuse good enough to keep using,” Douglas said. “The right time to get clean is always right now.”
About Recovery Centers of America
Recovery Centers of America is dedicated to helping patients achieve a life of recovery through evidence-based alcohol and drug addiction treatment, as well as treatment for mental health disorders. RCA has ten inpatient facilities in Earleville and Waldorf (near Washington D.C.), Maryland, Danvers and Westminster, Massachusetts; Devon (near Philadelphia), and Monroeville (near Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania; South Amboy and Mays Landing, NJ; St. Charles, Illinois (outside of Chicago), and Indianapolis, Indiana. A full spectrum of outpatient treatment is also provided at many of these facilities. Patients can obtain immediate substance use disorder care and mental health treatment by calling 1-800-Recovery with complimentary transportation provided in most cases. For the third year, RCA is recognized as having multiple sites atop Newsweek’s 2022 America’s Best Addiction Centers rankings for excellence.
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