A New Treatment Program

Back in August, I wrote about how I left a dream job working at the Rutgers Counseling Centers and overseeing the Rutgers Recovery House. I mentioned that there were several new prospects that I was pursuing, including rejoining the United States Army (USA Today ran a nice article about me as well). I am now ready to unveil another one of those opportunities: late last summer, I was hired to be the Executive Director of College Recovery. We are a new business (that has ties to a large, successful and ethical treatment program in California) that has a Sober Living Component as well as a NJ DMHAS-licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Center.

College Recovery (click here for the treatment website) is treatment program that provides individual and group counseling to people with alcohol and/or drug problems and people with co-occurring disorders. We treat people at a variety of levels: Partial Hospitalization (PHP – 20 hours a week), Intensive Outpatient (IOP – 9 hours) and Outpatient (OP – 1 to 8.5 hours a week). We are less than a mile from the Rutgers campus and only a few blocks from the New Brunswick train station. We are located in a brand new, green (eco-friendly) building in downtown New Brunswick just a block away from City Hall and the Courthouse. Our population age range is 18 to 29, although we will take older individuals when they make sense. The key requirement (after the diagnoses) is that they are in college (or just wiped out of college and plan to go back within one semester). Soon, we will be licensed to offer individual and group treatment (both IOP and OP) for people with mental health disorders and/or eating disorders.

Those close to me know about my affinity for supergroups (Cream, the Traveling Wilbury’s, the Avengers, Giffen’s Justice League, the 2006 Swedish Hockey Team, the 2012 NJ Opiate Task Force, Temple of the Dog, the special case unit in The Wire, etc…). Within a week of being hired, I put together an all-star team of treatment experts.

Dr. Louis Baxter is our consulting medical director. He is the past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). He served with me on the aforementioned Task Force and is nationally known for his expertise in medication assisted therapies (MAT’s). Joe Buttler is the clinical director and comes to us with over 40 years of experience in the field. Joe is known throughout the state for his expertise in training clinicians, especially running internship programs. Jass Pelland is the compliance officer and has 30 years of experience on the front lines. She has an absolute expertise in quality assurance and regulations. There are a few other well known figures and experts that I’m in discussions with about joining our team. I’ve hired a number of clinicians that I’ve worked with in other places, as well as a handful of my former students. They are young, bright, motivated and extremely coachable. It’s a great team. I’m both thrilled and proud of it.

At College Recovery, we do monitored urine screens. In addition to traditional groups like gender groups, relapse prevention and multi-family groups, we offer a guided mediation group and multiple yoga classes each week. We encourage exercise and take people to the gym. We take students to 3+ 12-step meetings a week and offer 2+ social activities a week as well. Being outside of Rutgers is a wonderful fit, as there are 40 students in recovery housing and 60 young alumni that live nearby, so there are over 100 young people in recovery that understand the unique issues facing college students who don’t drink or drug. This provides an immediate social circle, set of role models and potential sponsors that are not available to young people in early recovery anywhere else.

We also offer supportive housing (click here for that website). The brand new building has 20 beds, live-in staff and is located a block behind the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue Campus. Residents must submit to a breathalyzer in the morning and night, follow a curfew and be enrolled in some kind of treatment (obviously our treatment program is an easy fit, but they can choose to go to another program if they want). Getting sober at a young age is tough, and doing so on a college campus provides an even more difficult set of challenges. We are providing supportive housing, treatment, exposure to positive peers and role models, and perhaps most significantly, fun activities throughout the week and on every Friday and Saturday night. If people don’t find new ways of having fun, they aren’t going to stay sober.

So, I’m doing what I’ve done for over a dozen years (with my students in Japan, the residents at Integrity House, the residents at Earth House, my students at Elizabeth High School and my Rutgers Recovery House members)….I take them for late night, high caloric foods and on brutally long, surprisingly cold hikes.

Spread the gospel.

 

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Members of College Recovery and I look over the Catskill mountains in the crisp, late autumn weather.