Tuesday, March 23, 2010

BCI Will Be Closed Wednesday March 24

Brandywine Counseling will be closed Wednesday March 24 for staff training. We will reopen Thursday, March 25.

Monday, March 22, 2010

BCI Board of Directors Welcomes Two New Members

Brandywine Counseling welcomed two new members to our Board of Directors March 16, 2010.

Lauren Pearce of Milton is a Constituent Relations Liaison for Governor Jack Markell. She has been an active volunteer with BCI's Lighthouse Program for the past year, participating in many special activities with the women and children. Currently, she is doing a clothing/toiletry drive in the Governor’s office for residents. “I love working with the Lighthouse and wish I could do more with them,” says Lauren. “I've been working with [counselor] Kelly Enfield, who is wonderful, and I'm attempting to paint their Recovery Room in the Pentecostal church across the street. In May, we planted flowers with the women and children, and I hope to do that again this coming spring.” Lauren joined our board to become more involved with the organization, utilize her public relations experience, and continue pursuing her passion for helping those affected by addiction and HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Harold Rosen, MD, of Wayne, Pennsylvania is Chair of the Department of Psychiatry for Christiana Care Health System. Dr. Rosen has been a valued partner and resource to BCI in recent years as we have expanded our co-occurring disorders services. He has enabled us to strengthen our collaboration with Delaware’s major hospital to benefit the population we mutually serve. In addition, he brings his ideas on a wide range of topics, ranging from board development and vision, to demonstrating the outcomes and cost-effectiveness of BCI’s work, to working toward improvements in the overall health systems in our state.

The BCI Board is comprised of volunteers who support the mission of Brandywine Counseling by serving as our “eyes and ears” in the community, and sharing their time, advice, and expertise. We are glad to welcome our two new additions. Please join us in giving them a warm welcome to BCI!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Synthetic Pot "Spice" Causes Illnesses

Three people in Seaford, Delaware have been hospitalized after overdosing on a synthetic marijuana called "Spice." Please see today's News Journal article for more information. Delaware Health and Social Services has also posted a press release.

The drug is also known as "K2", "K2 Spice", "K2 Summit", "Genie", and "Zohai", and is typically sold as incense. Warning signs include the smell of spicy incense, elevated vital signs (increase in pulse, respiration, blood pressure), and hyperactivity.

Anyone suffering symptoms or side effects from the use of this product, should immediately be taken to the emergency room, or you should contact the local Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sharing Our "Light" with the Senate

The Lighthouse Program had a visit from Senator Tom Carper and several district & state representatives earlier this month. The Senator and the representatives were given a tour of the facility. Senator Carper engaged our residents in conversation surrounding several things, such as the admission process, the treatment schedule and topics, their growth process and their plans after program completion. The ladies, as well as staff, were afforded the opportunity to take pictures with the Senator - that made their day!

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Safety Net of Recovery and Stability

Brandywine Counseling’s Safety Net Services program, now in its third year, is making a difference for Delawareans with high HIV risk and severe substance abuse and mental health issues. Safety Net is an umbrella program offering treatment and pre-treatment to people at various stages of readiness for help, who would otherwise be “lost in the cracks” of social services. The focus is specifically on reaching women and ex-offenders, two of Delaware's highest-risk populations.

In the past year, Safety Net has assisted with over 2500 outreach contacts and 248 HIV tests. Many of our referrals come from the BCI Outreach team, who upon identifying a contact from the target population, will introduce them to the Safety Net Intervention Specialist. The Intervention Specialist will then offer services, see the client through the admission process, and remain in contact throughout their treatment experience. Many referrals also come from the Emergency Room at the Wilmington Hospital, made possible by the unique partnership of BCI with Christiana Care. Both sources have proven to be very successful “front doors” to treatment admission. In the past year, we’ve seamlessly transitioned 74 clients to addiction and mental health treatment, with a total of 148 active clients in the Safety Net program.

Six months after admission, we measure several indicators of recovery and stability. Safety Net participants show good progress on all measures. 56% report no drug use, 80% report no alcohol use, and 52% report no alcohol or drug use. Many reporting HIV risk at admission report reduced risk, with 66% who reported high-risk sexual activity reducing or eliminating risk, and 66% of injection drug users ceasing use. Three-quarters of the clients not housed at admission are now housed. Of the clients reporting no income at admission, 39% now have income. Clients also improved their support system and social connectedness. Half of those without a support network at admission have developed one. 95% of clients have no new arrests. 90% of the clients on mental health medications are compliant with their medications.

Overall, Safety Net Services has enabled many Delawareans with severe addiction and mental health issues to achieve recovery and stability. Our approach is holistic, simultaneously addressing multiple critical issues. The result is a newly created network of services that effectively assists clients into substance abuse treatment and provides a safety net before, during, and after treatment engagement.

Safety Net Services is funded through a grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

3 Years of Needle Exchange in Delaware: Saving Lives and Saving Dollars

The pilot Delaware Needle Exchange Program has had three very successful years. Over 700 people are enrolled, and over 38,654 needles have been exchanged. These potentially infectious syringes have been incinerated and destroyed. Not only have new infections been prevented, but participants have been successfully connected to substance abuse and HIV treatment services. Here are some more highlights, which we are also sharing with legislators today at the Joint Finance Committee budget hearings.

  • 150 people have been referred to drug treatment, with an incredible follow up/success rate of 60%. Referrals have been made to methadone treatment, outpatient and inpatient drug treatment, and detoxification.

  • Over 1200 people have been tested for HIV on the van. More than half were not needle exchange participants, but took advantage of the service being brought to their neighborhood. Testing has identified new HIV positive infections, as well as positives who know their status but are not in treatment. We are linking them to medical care and case management, which further reduces their risk of transmitting the virus.

  • We have begun Pregnancy Screening on our van. Our goal is to reduce the infant mortality rate in Delaware by connecting drug abusing pregnant women to treatment immediately. This will ultimately save both the mother and the baby’s life. Delaware has an extremely successful record of preventing HIV infection among infants born to HIV infected mothers, with only one HIV-positive birth in the last 4 years. Expectant mothers with HIV in Delaware have access to comprehensive, high-quality care; yet, it remains imperative that we encourage them to be tested for HIV and to seek drug treatment.

  • The needle exchange has made a difference for so many individuals in the past three years. Here is just one of those stories:

    "Cecilia" is a 24 year old Hispanic female who joined the needle exchange a little more than a year ago. She was an active drug user but was not ready for treatment. One day, after she had been with us about 6 months, Cecilia came on the van, tired and crying. She had finally had enough of the drug using lifestyle. We made her an appointment at the methadone clinic. She was having trouble signing up for Medicaid to handle her payments, so we helped her with that, and she was successfully admitted. At time of admission, she had a pregnancy test and found out she was 4 months pregnant. She stayed in treatment and gave birth to a healthy baby. Today Cecilia is still active in treatment and is also employed.

  • Lastly, we would like to share with you the cost benefit of needle exchange. Delaware’s program receives $211,000 from the Division of Public Health each year. We know from a recent CDC study that preventing one new HIV infection saves $221,365 in treatment costs. So, the prevention of one new HIV infection pays for the Needle Exchange Program for one year. In three years, Delaware’s needle exchange has prevented an estimated 10-12 new infections by connecting nearly 20 people to HIV care. Therefore, we saved an estimated $2 million that would have been spent on treating those individuals - and that is a modest approximation that does not include the infections prevented when someone is admitted to substance abuse treatment.

The success of the needle exchange is thanks to the inclusive and considerate work of our program staff at Brandywine Counseling, along with incredible support from the City of Wilmington, neighborhood associations, the Faith Community, the Division of Public Health and the Wilmington Police. This is an excellent example of what can happen when a community mobilizes.

We must keep up the work we’re doing. This epidemic remains a challenge, but we are making progress. 3,489 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Delaware. The Black community accounts for 20.9% of the state’s population, but 66% of our HIV/AIDS cases. While the number of new infections each year has declined, in Delaware, 1 in every 83 Blacks has HIV/AIDS.

Delaware’s Needle Exchange remains dedicated to the following goals:

  • We must encourage HIV testing for all those who are at risk.
  • We must encourage all of those that are infected to seek treatment.
  • We must encourage those not infected to take measures to ensure they remain uninfected. Until then, many will continue to pass the virus without knowing it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Advocating for Recovery at Legislative Hall

Delaware's Joint Finance Committee is holding its annual hearing this week on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, in preparation for making difficult decisions for this year's State budget. BCI Counselor Silver Debrick is testifying today to bring to their attention the needs of Delaware's citizens regarding treatment and recovery. Here is what she had to say.

Good afternoon and thank you for allowing me to speak on behalf of addiction services in Delaware. I am Silver Debrick, and I am a Dual Disorder Counselor of Brandywine Counseling, Inc., an addiction, mental health treatment and prevention agency celebrating 25 years of service to addicted persons and their families in the State of Delaware. I would like to thank you for your support in the past and to remind you why funding for these services remains essential.

Brandywine Counseling offers “Same Day Intake” for heroin addiction. We provide a patient their first dose of potentially life-saving methadone treatment the same day they walk in the door, with no wait time or waiting list. Many people have admitted that same day medication enabled them to stick with treatment rather than be back on the streets seeking heroin. Today, 40% of our methadone patients, nearly 450 people, have at least 90 days abstinence. We do not turn anyone away who needs our services.

Brandywine partners with other Delaware service providers, including Christiana Care, Detoxification, and community-based peer support. We strive for consistency, efficiency, and nonduplication of efforts to serve our common population. One successful collaboration is our on-site outreach at Wilmington Hospital, which has enabled us to reach a population that was previously “falling through the cracks.” In just over a year, 114 people have entered treatment thanks to this partnership. Drug use is known to increase one’s risk of chronic disease, including heart disease, cancer, or kidney damage. By helping these people enter treatment earlier, we help them avoid these health problems, while decreasing costs to hospitals and taxpayers.

Brandywine also continues to partner with the State of Delaware to better serve Delawareans with co-occurring substance abuse and mental illness. Co-occurring disorders are becoming more the rule than the exception for drug-dependent people. Nearly 4 in 10 people who come through our door have a Co-Occurring Disorder. Our team is prepared to provide them individualized, person-centered, culturally competent assessment and treatment, with minimal wait time. This includes our clinical staff, many of whom have obtained our Co-Occurring Professional Certification; as well as our physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrist Dr. Carol Tavani.

Another vulnerable population Brandywine serves is women with children. Our residential program, the Lighthouse, is filled to its 10 bed capacity. We have 2 moms who have been awarded regular visitation with their children, and another mom who has regained custody of her children while at the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is keeping these families together. It helps women find the courage to break the generational cycle of addiction and transform their lives to become productive citizens and good mothers. That is why we welcome them upon arrival with a big hug and a smile and say "Welcome to the Light!"

Treatment produces so many individual success stories. We help each person set goals, work toward them, and celebrate when they reach them. Here are just a few examples.

  • One gentleman from Georgetown entered our vocational program. He just got employed with a cellphone company. When he came in to see his counselor, he was in a suit and tie and was beaming with pride!

  • Another young lady named Dawn was living on the streets in Wilmington one year ago. She was addicted to heroin and was sleeping on a bus stop bench in the middle of winter. Today, she has one year clean, she has a place to live, and she is the mom of healthy 9 month old twins.

  • A young man named Kevin took part in our recovery coaching program. He received peer support that helped him build a strong support network, stay clean, and reconnect with his family. He says, “I feel like a productive member of society today. I feel like a normal human being. Most of all, I have my family back today, and just 8 months ago, they wouldn’t even want me in their house.”

Lastly, I would like to remind you that when we treat and prevent addiction, we reduce the consequences of addiction, which often receive much more attention. Addiction is the leading factor in 40% of homelessness, 38% of child abuse and neglect, 50% of domestic violence disputes, 50% of auto accidents and 62% of aggravated assaults. If we as a society recognize addiction as the underlying cause of these concerns, we will see how necessary treatment and prevention are. I ask that you continue to support addiction treatment and prevention services.

Thank you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Memory of Mike Kriner and Chris Sturmfels

We were saddened to learn of the passing of our colleagues Mike Kriner and Chris Sturmfels of Connections CSP on February 25. Many of us at BCI had the opportunity to know them and to observe firsthand their steadfast dedication to their work on behalf of individuals in need. This is truly a loss for Delaware's substance abuse and mental health treatment community. We will miss them as professionals and for the special people they were. Please visit Connections' Web site to read a tribute to Mike and Chris. We send our heartfelt condolences to their families.