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.

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