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The past year-and-a-half has been a challenging time for many as COVID-19-related concerns about health and finances led to an increase in substance abuse, most notably with alcohol. This has led to a greater demand for services to help people overcome their drinking or drug use.

Catholic Health’s New Hope is an inpatient, residential substance abuse program located in Freeport. It provides a safe and sober environment for those age 18 and over who need stabilization and help with recovery. New Hope accepts clients experiencing mild to moderate withdrawal and those who are active but not in danger from severe withdrawals.

Catholic Health’s Director of Behavioral Health Central Intake Services Lawrence M. Ferber, Ph.D., said that while there has been a significant uptick in the abuse of various substances, alcohol tops the list.

“Even when bars and restaurants were shut down during the height of the pandemic, liquor stores remained opened and alcohol was easily accessible,” he said.

Dr. Ferber said during the past year, he has seen individuals who had been recovering from addictions relapse as a result of pandemic-related stress. Additionally, there has also been a significant number of first-time patients presenting at Catholic Health hospital emergency departments with substance abuse issues.

Patients in emergency departments can meet with a member of the Sherpa Program, which was developed by the Family & Children’s Association (FCA) and brought to Catholic Health in 2018. Each “Sherpa” is a trained peer recovery coach who meets with those needing substance abuse services and their families to discuss treatment options that include New Hope.

Patients may be in treatment for up to six months, depending on which program is best suited to meet their needs. Detoxification typically lasts up to 10 days. From there, patients enter a 28-day rehabilitation program. Further stabilization may be needed depending on several factors, including family support, access to housing and employment status.

“There is no hard stop when it comes to being safely discharged,” said Dr. Ferber. “We do not take a cookie-cutter approach. Each patient is evaluated individually to determine the best course of action.”

In addition to New Hope, Catholic Health offers substance abuse treatment services at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson that includes a 40-bed chemical dependency unit as part of its 28 day rehabilitation program. The hospital also offers a detoxification program for adolescents ages 13 to 18 with admission determined by a physician and other medical professionals using evidence-based screening tools.

Patients and/or family members can access services offered by New Hope by calling Mercy Hospital’s Crisis/Central Intake office at (516) 705-2248. Additional information is available at chsli.org.

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