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YNN's Cara Thomas tells us about a new treatment program created to help people with both drug abuse and mental health issues.

UTICA, N.Y. -- Substance abuse and mental health disorders go hand in hand.

"More often than not, people with substance abuse are actually masking their mental health disorders by their use. A lot of what's being told to me is they don't want to feel," said Chemical Dependency Counselor, Amanda Brunet.

Depression, PTSD, bi-polar disorder and other mental health issues can be a cause and an effect of drug or alcohol abuse. Studies show that nearly 9 million people have co-occurring disorders, but only about 7 percent receive proper treatment.

In response, the Beacon Center in Utica has started a new duel-diagnosis therapy group called the Compass Program.

Clinical supervisor at the Beacon Center, Admira Spahic, said, "We had this idea that we wanted to create a safe place for them to be able to address both and talk about both so they don't necessarily have that stigma attached of having one or the other."

Mental health counselors say the best results come when both problems are treated at the same time. Only being treated for one or the other, could lead to an increased chance of a relapse.

"When you start to work on both the diagnoses simultaneously then recovery is more effective, because they're not masking their other symptoms, they're actually tolerating them so when they're triggered again by something that pops up in their life they're able to have alternative positive coping skills," said Brunet.

Through the program, patients receive a basic knowledge of how the two disorders affect one another and the symptoms they experience. The program began in October, and so far group leaders are getting a positive response.

Spahic said, "They seem to enjoy it, they speak very highly of it, it's a well attended group so that also shows that it's making some positive impact on their lives."

Counselors say this program isn't a cure, but it's a great first step in battling these life-long disorders.

The Compass Program meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. at multiple Beacon Center locations. For more information about the program, head to www.beaconcenter.net.

The Albert O. Nichols House

The Albert O. Nichols House is a supportive living facility that, since 2006, has been assisting men as they make the transition from the ravages of addiction to a lifetime of abstinence. Located at the site of a former bar, it is named in honor of Beacon Center founder Faith Peterson's late father. A comfortable, attractive, fully restored Victorian home, the Nichols House can offer an intermediate step between the haven and solace of an inpatient treatment facility and the harsh realities of the world outside, helping residents to conquer the stresses and avoid the temptations of life while concurrently attending outpatient treatment. Referrals are also accepted from other sources. Located in the village of Herkimer and tucked away in the foothills of the beautiful Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, this supportive living home provides residents privacy and anonymity while giving them a chance to rebuild their lives and develop their relapse prevention skills.

The caring and compassionate staff of the Albert O. Nichols House are available to help residents with every detail of everyday life, from instructions on basic living skills to linkages to vocational and educational training. On-site, professional cooking classes and nutrition education are some of the benefits extended to our residents with the goal of helping them to attain self-sufficiency.

This home is for men who are serious about their recoveries and who have achieved a period of abstinence prior to admission. Residents may not have a history of arson or of sexual violence. For more information, please call the Albert O. Nichols House at (315) 866-3151.

Beacon Center Relocates to Larger Accommodations

In November of 2008, Beacon Center relocated its outpatient substance-abuse treatment clinic from 430 North Main Street in Herkimer to 210 South Main Street, Herkimer. This move was arranged to accommodate the demand for Beacon Center’s services, which was larger than was initially anticipated when the present office first began accepting clients in October of 2007.

At the time Beacon Center opened its doors at the original Herkimer location, Ed Scudder, Herkimer County’s Commissioner of Mental Health, noted, “We are very happy and excited to know that Beacon Center has opened a local site. We look forward to its success in serving people in our community.” The success that the Commissioner envisioned has made it necessary for Beacon Center to seek a more spacious site early in its foray into Herkimer County.

Beacon Center operates seven substance-abuse facilities in New York State. Owner Faith Nichols Peterson, a Herkimer native, opened the first agency location in suburban Buffalo in June of 1990 with three employees. Since that time, Beacon Center has grown to seven sites—six outpatient substance-abuse treatment agencies and one supportive living home—and approximately 40 employees, guiding the way to a lifetime of sobriety for countless clients over the years. One of Western New York’s largest woman-owned businesses, Beacon Center’s philosophy is that chemical dependency is a highly treatable disease and that all clients should be treated with dignity and respect with the goal of restoring their lives. The agency offers a range of services from evaluations, which include drug and alcohol testing, to individual, group, and family counseling. It also offers specialized treatment programs designed to address individual needs, such as a Young Adult Program and a program called “Women in Trauma.” Families are always encouraged to participate in the client’s recovery. Anyone wishing to make an appointment can call Beacon Center at (315) 717-0189.

 
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