The Institute Receives Grant Funding to Treat Opioid Dependence in Ulster County

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New Paltz, NY (March 16, 2016) – The Institute for Family Health was awarded a $325,000 federal grant to provide effective treatment to Mid-Hudson Valley residents dependent on opioids, including prescription pain medicines and heroin. The funding, which runs for two years, will enable the Institute’s community health centers in Kingston, New Paltz, Ellenville and Hyde Park to treat about 150 patients annually, and screen hundreds more to identify those at risk. The funding will support much-needed drug treatment services in the region: Ulster County EMS responds to about 350 drug overdose calls each year, and heroin-related hospital admissions in the county have nearly doubled since 2007.

The service expansion will focus on training primary care providers to identify and treat opioid dependence as part of their general practice. The program will focus on “Medication Assisted Treatment,” where counseling and support services are coupled with medications that reduce the effects of opioid withdrawal, making it easier for dependent individuals to stop using opioids. Unlike treatment with methadone, which typically requires daily visits to a clinic, Medication Assisted Treatment requires far fewer doctor’s visits. Most patients will participate in weekly counseling sessions and see their physician for periodic check-ups.

“Nationally, the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain medications almost quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, while heroin-related deaths increased 39 percent between 2012 and 2013,” said Virna Little, PsyD, LCSW-R, SAP, the Institute’s Senior Vice President, Psychosocial Services and Community Affairs. “This is also true in the Mid-Hudson region, which has experienced sharp increases in prescription opioid dependence in the past decade, resulting in a dramatic rise in heroin abuse and opioid-related overdose fatalities in the community.”

Neil Calman, MD, President and CEO of the Institute, added, “We are very grateful for this funding, which will permit us to offer screening and treatment to hundreds of individuals, addressing a critical cause of preventable deaths and disability in the community.”