Liberation Programs, a leading behavioral health organization specializing in substance use treatment in Fairfield County, is adapting to the Coronavirus Pandemic to continue its life saving programs at a time when they are needed more than ever. Liberation’s Outpatient Programs in Bridgeport and Stamford are still accepting walk in admissions for mental health, Methadone, extended release naltrexone, and Buprenorphine as approved by the CT Department of Mental Health Services (DMHAS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Telehealth counseling services are being used in addition to enhanced protections for in person medicating. Inpatient programs are continuing undisrupted with enhanced social distancing measures in place. We have also partnered with a Federally Qualified Health Center to provide telehealth primary care medical services to Recoverees to ensure their safety while allowing for continued medical care. Additionally, Liberation’s Mobile Wellness Van is in Washington Park in Bridgeport from 10am – 2pm on Wednesdays providing Buprenorphine, harm reduction syringe exchange and overdose kits.
In the month of March, Liberation Programs saw an increase in outpatient admissions with one location having an 18% increase in new admissions. As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues, and in its aftermath, Liberation expects to see an increase in admissions and need for their services. The anxiety, fear, stress and sense of loss due to Coronavirus is a recipe for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which has a high comorbidity with Substance Use Disorders. Stress and trauma are strong risk factors for addiction as well as relapse, treatment failure and a lack of willingness to quit. while dealing with trauma can lead to relapse and lack of willingness to quit. Loss of a consistent routine and the unprecedented increase in unemployment are both indicators of a dramatic increase in drug use. Last month, the “Disaster Distress Hotline” at SAMHSA saw an 891% increase in calls over March of 2019 and a 338% increase in calls compared to the month before.
A vital part of Substance Use Treatment is social support which can be difficult with necessary social distancing protocols. It is essential to rely on technology wherever possible to deal with trauma and anxiety while connecting with others. This is also true for first responders, medical staff and frontline workers who are at risk of developing PTSD from this pandemic. Isolation and social distancing can lead to feelings of loneliness and lack of emotional connections which can lead to increased use and self-medication with drugs and alcohol.
After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, substance use increased in Manhattan by 27% and remained high even when reports of depression and PTSD had declined. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there was a 35% increase in hospitalizations for Substance Use Disorder in Louisiana. Both traumatic events had largely regional effects while the Coronavirus Pandemic has national and global ramifications.
Individuals with Substance Use Disorders are not only at risk of having lasting mental health effects due to the Coronavirus, many are more susceptible to complications from contracting Coronavirus. Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder, methamphetamine use and those who smoke or vape are especially at risk of complications. The timing of the Coronavirus Pandemic is especially unfortunate as we are currently experiencing a national and local Opioid Epidemic. It is critical that Substance Use Treatment is available to curb preventable hospitalizations that will pull resources from Coronavirus frontlines. There are also many instances where change in routine and more time spent at home can lead to finding a sense of purpose and desire to seek treatment.
There are many resources available from Liberation Programs as well as SAMHSA and CT DMHAS for those struggling with stressors related to the Coronavirus Pandemic as well as those living with Substance Use Disorders. Liberation Programs remains open to serve the community in lower Fairfield County during this pandemic and after. To get more information, please visit www.liberationprograms.org, call 855.LIB.PROG (855.542.7764) or email email@example.com.
Liberation Programs staff spoke to the Greenwich Time about our Mobile Wellness Van and ways to support harm reduction and save lives.
“As Glennard Brown inched into a parking spot near Jackie Robinson Park in Stamford on Thursday morning, he zipped up his jacket and grabbed a “rover” kit from the back of his van.
Teams from Liberation Programs travel across Fairfield County multiple times per week in the van, offering on-the-ground services to those who need them — from Greenwich into Bridgeport.
The van travels to areas where active drug users might congregate — with services accessible to all — including those who are uninsured. And it goes where its presence is requested.” (excerpt from Greenwich Time Article, Liberation Van Drives on the Road to Recovery.)
Read the full Greenwich Time article here.
Joanne Montgomery, Chief Clinical and Outreach Officer at Liberation Programs, spoke at the New Haven Police Department Harm Reduction Press Conference on February 6, 2020.
New Haven Police has become the first police department to provide harm reduction kits to individuals with substance misuse disorders in hopes of keeping them alive.
Joanne Montgomery spoke of her personal experience with harm reduction techniques. “All of the people I had met through the years, through the harm reduction efforts out in the streets — I knew right away who I could call and where I could go, and I actually went to Liberation Programs, where I now work.”
Pictured above (L-R): DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Joanne Montgomery, Liberation Programs President & CEO John Hamilton
Watch video from the Press Conference Here
Read more about New Haven’s Harm Reduction Efforts and Watch the Full Press Conference Here
Liberation’s President and CEO John Hamilton presented as part of the Greenwich Retired Men’s Association’s weekly speaker series at First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich.
The presentation, How to Strengthen Resiliency in Families, included topics such as addiction potential of substances, parent/child communication, and brain development stages.
John’s presentation was highlighted by and reported in the Greenwich Time:
[John] encouraged parents to lead by example and to exhibit healthy mood-regulation during times of stress. Parents should refrain from judging their children and remain open, nurturing and responsive when their youngsters approach them about these issues, Hamilton said.
“You here in this room could be that consistent, supportive, loving person in the child’s life… [a]nd that could make a difference for everything else going on in their life.”