GCASA https://www.thebatavian.com/ en https://www.thebatavian.com/themes/barrio_batavian/images/thebatavian_logo.png GCASA https://www.thebatavian.com/ Local Matters © 2008-2023 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Tue, 23 Jul 2024 14:04:03 -0400 https://www.thebatavian.com/themes/barrio_batavian/images/thebatavian_logo.png Fri, 06 Oct 2023 15:26:00 -0400 Reflective and disappointed: CEO extends invitation to 'come down to visit us' https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/reflective-and-disappointed-ceo-extends-invitation-to-come-down-to-visit-us/636754
John Bennett
August 2023 File Photo of John Bennett
Photo by Mike Pettinella

After spending 40 years in a career involved with people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, John Bennett believes he has come to know those people fairly well. And after all is said and done, no matter their struggles and perceived defects, “they’re just people,” he says.

Bennett, the chief executive officer for UConnectCare, formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, or GCASA, is taking some time to collect his thoughts and plans for the agency after his request for funding was turned down Wednesday by four Genesee County legislators. 

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https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/reflective-and-disappointed-ceo-extends-invitation-to-come-down-to-visit-us/636754#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/reflective-and-disappointed-ceo-extends-invitation-to-come-down-to-visit-us/636754 Oct 6, 2023, 3:26pm GCASA Reflective and disappointed: CEO extends invitation to 'come down to visit us' jfbeck_99_272012 <figure role="group" class="caption caption-div align-right"> <div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img alt="John Bennett" class="image-style-large" height="252" loading="lazy" src="https://www.thebatavian.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2023-10/bennett-8-23-ab.jpg?itok=KiqnyBU1" width="200"> </div> </div> <figcaption><em>August 2023 File Photo of John Bennett</em><br><em>Photo by Mike Pettinella</em></figcaption> </figure> <p>After spending 40 years in a career involved with people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, John Bennett believes he has come to know those people fairly well. And after all is said and done, no matter their struggles and perceived defects, “they’re just people,” he says.</p><p>Bennett, the chief executive officer for UConnectCare, formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, or GCASA, is taking some time to collect his thoughts and plans for the agency after his request for funding was turned down Wednesday by four Genesee County legislators.&nbsp;</p>
In rare move, county legislators vote no to $100K request for motel purchase https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/in-rare-move-county-legislators-vote-no-to-100k-request-for-motel-purchase/636728
Gary Maha

In less than a minute Wednesday, four Genesee County legislators did something that is rarely done during a committee meeting, likely ending the current plans of UConnectCare to purchase property on the outskirts of the county and convert it to transitional housing.

The legislators, led by Gary Maha, voted no to support UConnectCare CEO John Bennett’s request for $100,000 to purchase The Attican motel on Route 98.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/in-rare-move-county-legislators-vote-no-to-100k-request-for-motel-purchase/636728#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/in-rare-move-county-legislators-vote-no-to-100k-request-for-motel-purchase/636728 Oct 4, 2023, 7:46pm GCASA In rare move, county legislators vote no to $100K request for motel purchase jfbeck_99_272012 <div class="align-right"> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img loading="lazy" src="https://www.thebatavian.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2023-10/gary-maha-leg-headshot.jpeg?itok=mLDuH9xw" width="300" height="200" alt="Gary Maha" class="image-style-large"> </div> </div> <p>In less than a minute Wednesday, four Genesee County legislators did something that is rarely done during a committee meeting, likely ending the current plans of UConnectCare to purchase property on the outskirts of the county and convert it to transitional housing.</p><p>The legislators, led by Gary Maha, voted no to support UConnectCare CEO John Bennett’s request for $100,000 to purchase The Attican motel on Route 98.</p>
Recovery tied to solid housing and transportation access, mental health official says https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/recovery-tied-to-solid-housing-and-transportation-access-mental-health-official-says It’s hard enough battling mental health issues and opioid addiction, let alone trying to do so without a solid and safe place to live or a way to get around for wellness appointments and necessary travel, Lynda Battaglia says.

The Genesee County Mental Health director talked about those obstacles as

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https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/recovery-tied-to-solid-housing-and-transportation-access-mental-health-official-says#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/jfbeck99272012/recovery-tied-to-solid-housing-and-transportation-access-mental-health-official-says Sep 6, 2023, 7:55am GCASA Recovery tied to solid housing and transportation access, mental health official says jfbeck_99_272012 <p>It’s hard enough battling mental health issues and opioid addiction, let alone trying to do so without a solid and safe place to live or a way to get around for wellness appointments and necessary travel, Lynda Battaglia says.</p><p>The Genesee County Mental Health director talked about those obstacles as</p>
Sponsored Post: GCASA thanks you for keeping our kids safe https://www.thebatavian.com/lisa-ace/sponsored-post-gcasa-thanks-you-for-keeping-our-kids-safe/626035

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https://www.thebatavian.com/lisa-ace/sponsored-post-gcasa-thanks-you-for-keeping-our-kids-safe/626035#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/lisa-ace/sponsored-post-gcasa-thanks-you-for-keeping-our-kids-safe/626035 Jan 9, 2023, 12:00pm GCASA Sponsored Post: GCASA thanks you for keeping our kids safe Lisa Ace <p><a href="https://gcasa.net"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img loading="lazy" src="https://www.thebatavian.com/sites/default/files/users/7438/2022-12/thankyousp-2023.jpg" width="460" height="750"> </div> </div> </a></p>
Transportation grant to enhance GCASA’s ‘road’ to recovery services https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/transportation-grant-to-enhance-gcasa-s-road-to-recovery-services/615072

Press release:

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports has announced that Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has been selected to receive a procurement award of $249,900 to improve the agency’s ability to provide non-medical transportation to its clients.

With this two-year grant, GCASA literally is in a position to make the “road to recovery” much easier for residents in the tri-county area (Wyoming County is included).

“This award will allow us to build upon what we already do in terms of transporting clients to their appointments by allowing us to add more focus on essential trips for non-medical reasons in addition to coordinating rides to and from counseling and treatment sessions,” said Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, GCASA’s director of Project Innovation & Expansion.

Mangino-Crandall said the bulk of the funds will be used toward hiring new drivers and transportation costs. Funds also will enable GCASA to establish contracts with cab companies and to market the program to the community.

“One of the requirements is for us to expand transportation services from five to seven days per week, and we’re already in the process of planning for that change,” she noted.

Transportation Coordinator Nickole Millette, an Attica resident who served GCASA as a driver for a year before moving into her current position in 2021, said the agency wouldn’t be able to serve its clients effectively without being able to provide rides.

“These people are at different stages of recovery and most of them do not have a car,” she said. “So, it’s crucial that we’re able to fill that need.”

She estimated that her office has set up more than 800 rides since the first of the year – mostly through Medicaid.

Currently, GCASA employs a full-time and part-time driver to shuttle clients throughout the city – some to The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road – with pickup points at DePaul, St. Jerome, GCASA and Liberty Square.

“We rely on the taxi companies for trips to Rochester and Buffalo, but we provide service to Albion on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” she said.

Millette said some of the grant money will be used to explore expanding its appointment process or to utilize a different system that clients can access to make an appointment for rides.

“Our goal is to make it as efficient and easy as possible for our patients to get to their appointments, whether it be to the dentist, court, Department of Social Services or to come here (The Recovery Station) for social time,” she said. “I can tell you that the clients – many with no family support -- really appreciate the help.”

OASAS Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham emphasized the importance of providing reliable transportation for those seeking services for a substance use disorder.

“This pilot program allows us to work with our providers on the ground to address these issues, and improve transportation services for people in need of further support or resources,” she said in a press release. “For many people who need services, the lack of resources to travel to and from the programs they need has a negative impact on health outcomes. This has been made worse in some cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Funding awarded under this program must be used for non-medical transportation needs, such as recreational activities likely to increase social connection or emotional well-being, recovery supports, peer interactions, formal or informal mutual support groups such as SMART Recovery and AA or NA meetings, and rides to treatment or harm reduction services or to service providers.

Data and information from this pilot program will help to guide further expansions of transportation services across the state.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/transportation-grant-to-enhance-gcasa-s-road-to-recovery-services/615072#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/transportation-grant-to-enhance-gcasa-s-road-to-recovery-services/615072 Aug 29, 2022, 11:34pm GCASA Transportation grant to enhance GCASA’s ‘road’ to recovery services Press Release <p><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img loading="lazy" src="https://www.thebatavian.com/sites/default/files/users/60/2022-08/n_millette_1.jpg" width="460" height="553"> </div> </div> </p> <p>Press release:</p> <blockquote> <p>The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports has announced that Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has been selected to receive a procurement award of $249,900 to improve the agency’s ability to provide non-medical transportation to its clients.</p> <p>With this two-year grant, GCASA literally</p></blockquote>
GCASA hosting Overdose Awareness event Wednesday at Austin Park https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-hosting-overdose-awareness-event-wednesday-at-austin-park/614588 Press release:

Christopher Budzinack has a straightforward reason for agreeing to speak at next Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day: To show those affected by substance use disorder that there is hope and there is help.

“As a person in long-term recovery, I know first-hand how important these services are and I want to help promote them as much as possible,” said Budzinack, a residential counselor at the Atwater Community Residence operated by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

“It is my hope that someone will leave this event feeling encouraged and inspired to make a change for the better and for the ones who have lost someone to addiction, my hope for them is that they will know they are not alone and there is help for them as well.”

Budzinack, who also serves as a case manager for GCASA’s supportive living program, is one of several people signed up to speak at the annual event, which is set for 4-7 p.m. Aug. 24 at Austin Park in Batavia.

Designed to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and remember the lives that have been lost due to an overdose, the event is being hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force.

Task Force Coordinator Christen Foley said attendees are invited to take part in the family-friendly activities – which include face painting and live music -- and enjoy free pizza, refreshments, and ice cream. A Narcan training also is on the agenda and local agencies will have informational tables.

Participants also will be offered the opportunity to leave a note on the task force’s memory board for a deceased loved one.

Other speakers include Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties; John Bennett, GCASA chief executive officer; the Rev. Vern Saile, pastor of Northgate Free Methodist Church, and Jarett LoCicero, case manager at GCASA.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-hosting-overdose-awareness-event-wednesday-at-austin-park/614588#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-hosting-overdose-awareness-event-wednesday-at-austin-park/614588 Aug 19, 2022, 3:08pm GCASA GCASA hosting Overdose Awareness event Wednesday at Austin Park Press Release <p>Press release:</p> <blockquote> Christopher Budzinack has a straightforward reason for agreeing to speak at next Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day: To show those affected by substance use disorder that there is hope and there is help. <p>“As a person in long-term recovery, I know first-hand how important these services are and I</p></blockquote>
GCASA recognizes board, staff, scholars, friends https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-recognizes-board-staff-scholars-friends/606089

Press release:

Understanding the importance of enlisting all community segments to fight the scourge of substance use disorder, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse leaders on Monday afternoon recognized its board of directors, staff, scholarship recipients and “friends” at the nonprofit agency’s annual meeting.

About 80 people attended the luncheon meeting at Terry Hills Restaurant.

Four individuals and one business were presented with Friends of GCASA awards:

  • Mickey Edwards, superintendent of Albion Central School (and former superintendent at Byron-Bergen Central School), Friend of GCASA Prevention;
  • One World Projects, Harvester Avenue, Batavia, Friend of GCASA Residential Services;
  • Hon. Sanford A. Church, judge for the Orleans County Court Multi-Bench in the Eighth Judicial District of New York (and former Orleans County public defender), Friend of GCASA Treatment;
  • Joy Mercer of Corfu, licensed mental health counselor, Friend of GCASA Treatment;
  • Charlotte Crawford of Batavia, R.N., interim executive director at Crossroads House and retired chief executive officer at Lake Plains Community Care Network, Friend of GCASA Recovery.

Four students each received $1,000 GCASA Foundation Scholarships as a result of their enrollment in fields related to substance abuse prevention/treatment:

  • Kendra Lonnen, a 2022 graduate of Lyndonville Central School, who will be attending Genesee Community College to study Human Resources, with a goal of becoming a social worker;
  • Sarah Volpe, a 2022 graduate of Elba Central School, who also will receive an associate’s degree in General Studies from GCC this summer. She will be attending Daemen University in the fall with direct entry into the Physician Assistant program.
  • Samantha Kabel, a 2022 graduate of Alexander Central School, who also will be attending Daemen University in the fall to study Pre-Medicine Biology;
  • Tess Pettit, a 2019 graduate of Albion Central School, who is graduating from Houghton College with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

“It is our honor and privilege to recognize the people that support the work that we do here at GCASA and to be able to assist in the education of those who are choosing to pursue careers that ultimately will make a positive difference in their lives of so many of our neighbors,” GCASA Chief Executive Officer John Bennett said.

Bennett underscored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on substance use disorder prevention and treatment, noting a remarkable spike in anxiety, depression and other mental health problems among those dealing with drug and alcohol issues.

“At the same time,” he said, filling vacancies for mental health and substance use disorder professionals has become a huge concern. The increase in individuals leaving and the lack of individuals coming into the workforce have created even more problems for a system hit hard by the pandemic.”

He said that the profession is bouncing back to some extent, but “the challenge of the next year or two is figuring out the new normal.”

Calling his staff “the heart and soul of this organization,” Bennett thanked GCASA employees for “persevering and keeping our doors open over the past two years.”

“You are truly amazing, and the board of directors and I appreciate you more than you can imagine,” he said.

Outgoing Board President Virginia Taylor, Ph.D., presided over the election of new board members and the slate of officers. Bennett commended Taylor, a Higher Education Administration consultant, for her dedication and passion for the GCASA mission during her six years as a board member.

Elected to three-year terms were Jerry Ader, Genesee County public defender; Don Allport, Orleans County legislator; Gary Graber, Darien Town justice; Gretchen Rosales, superintendent at Elba Central School; Jennifer Wakefield, GCC Foundation director of Development & Alumni Affairs.

Officers elected were Tim Batzel, president, Alexander Central business administrator; Katie Cotter, vice president, a specialist with WNY Independent Living, and Fred Rarick, secretary-treasurer, Batavia attorney.

In 2021, GCASA provided 812 comprehensive substance use disorder evaluations through its outpatient treatment services, with 249 admitted to the Batavia Outpatient Clinic, 191 admitted to the Albion Outpatient Clinic, and 124 admitted to the Opioid Treatment Program.

Forty-three individuals were admitted to the Atwater Community Residence in Batavia, with another 18 admitted into supportive living.

GCASA’s Prevention educators served 28,938 youth and adults in various programs, while the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force membership stands at 441.

The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road in Batavia served 477 individuals, hosting activities five to six days per week throughout the year, while Employee Assistance Program counselors provided services to 46 people.

Submitted photos.

GCASA ‘FRIENDS’: Joy Mercer, left, and Charlotte Crawford received Friends of GCASA awards on Monday at the agency’s annual meeting at Terry Hills Restaurant.

GCASA SCHOLARS: Recipients of GCASA Foundation Scholarships are, from left, Sarah Volpe, Kendra Lennon and Samantha Kabel.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-recognizes-board-staff-scholars-friends/606089#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-recognizes-board-staff-scholars-friends/606089 May 24, 2022, 1:28pm GCASA GCASA recognizes board, staff, scholars, friends Press Release <p><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img loading="lazy" src="https://www.thebatavian.com/sites/default/files/users/60/2022-05/friends_1.jpg" width="460" height="538"> </div> </div> </p> <p>Press release:</p> <blockquote> <p>Understanding the importance of enlisting all community segments to fight the scourge of substance use disorder, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse leaders on Monday afternoon recognized its board of directors, staff, scholarship recipients and “friends” at the nonprofit agency’s annual meeting.</p> <p>About 80 people attended the</p></blockquote>
Sheila Harding named assistant director of prevention at GCASA https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/sheila-harding-named-assistant-director-of-prevention-at-gcasa/604242

Press release:

With a track record of success as an advocate for youth, Sheila Harding is equipped to help facilitate drug and alcohol awareness programs as the assistant director of Prevention at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

“Sheila demonstrated her abilities to connect with young people as a prevention educator at GCASA for the past seven years,” said Shannon Ford, GCASA’s director of Prevention. “We’re fortunate that she has accepted the assistant director position. Parents and students in Genesee and Orleans counties will be well served by her ability to lead the department.”

Harding oversees seven prevention educators who present evidence-based programming in five Genesee County schools – Batavia, Le Roy, Byron-Bergen, Oakfield-Alabama, Notre Dame and Genesee Valley BOCES – and two Orleans County schools – Medina and Albion.

“We are in these schools from one to four days a week, offering specific programs that illustrate the dangers of illegal substance use, while also providing student screenings, referral services and other presentations,” Harding said. “Our educators also are available when requested by schools that we do not have contracts with.”

Evidence-based programs offered by GCASA include Teen Intervene, Too Good for Drugs, Too Good for Violence, Active Parenting Now and Active Parenting of Teens. Community presentations include the DWI Victim Impact Panel, Responsible Server Training, Narcan and Opioid Overdose Prevention Training, Accountability Circles, Understanding Addiction and Gambling Prevention.

Harding said that reaching parents continues to be a priority.

“Community outreach, especially finding avenues and ways to communicate with parents, is crucial,” she said. “Currently, we participate in required parent meetings at the schools, but we are looking to develop other opportunities to help parents learn and understand the trends concerning alcohol, drugs and tobacco use.”

Harding was employed as a Child Protective Services caseworker at Genesee County Department of Social Services for 12 years prior to working at GCASA. She has a bachelor’s degree in Health Science from Brockport State College.

An Oakfield resident, Harding and her husband, Tyler Harding, have two daughters – Kayla, a junior, and Paige, a freshman, at Oakfield-Alabama Central School.

For more information about substance use prevention efforts at GCASA, contact Harding at 585-815-1883.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/sheila-harding-named-assistant-director-of-prevention-at-gcasa/604242#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/sheila-harding-named-assistant-director-of-prevention-at-gcasa/604242 May 5, 2022, 2:39pm GCASA Sheila Harding named assistant director of prevention at GCASA Press Release <p></p><div class="align-left"> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img loading="lazy" src="https://www.thebatavian.com/sites/default/files/users/60/2022-04/s_harding_1.jpg" width="180" height="277"> </div> </div> Press release: <blockquote> <p>With a track record of success as an advocate for youth, Sheila Harding is equipped to help facilitate drug and alcohol awareness programs as the assistant director of Prevention at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.</p> <p>“Sheila demonstrated her abilities to connect with young people as a</p></blockquote>
GCASA ranked as one of the best companies to work for in NY https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-ranked-as-one-of-the-best-companies-to-work-for-in-ny/604151 Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse continues to be recognized as one of the state’s “best companies to work for.”

For the fifth consecutive year, the New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM) has included the Batavia-based substance use treatment, prevention and recovery agency on its list of Best Companies to Work for in New York.

GCASA was one of 23 companies selected in the medium employers’ category (100-249 employees) for 2022. Additionally, 27 small employers (15-99 employees) and 25 large employers (250 or more employees) were honored at a reception last month in Albany.

“It is truly an honor to be selected for a fifth straight year,” said GCASA Executive Director John Bennett. “We were one of four agencies certified by the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, with the other three in the large employer category. We actually ranked higher than those other three. This is a testament to our employees, who have shown remarkable resilience and commitment to their profession over a challenging last couple of years.”

To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a for-profit, not-for-profit business or government entity;
  • Be a publicly or privately held business;
  • Have a facility in the state of New York;
  • Have at least 15 employees working in New York; and
  • Must be in business for a minimum of 1 year.

Companies from across the state entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Companies to Work for in New York. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company's policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This part was worth approximately 25 percent of the total evaluation.

The second part consisted of a survey to measure the employee experience. This part was worth approximately 75 percent of the total. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings.

Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in New York and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.

For more information on the Best Companies to Work for in New York program, visit www.BestCompaniesNY.com.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-ranked-as-one-of-the-best-companies-to-work-for-in-ny/604151#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/gcasa-ranked-as-one-of-the-best-companies-to-work-for-in-ny/604151 May 4, 2022, 3:43pm GCASA GCASA ranked as one of the best companies to work for in NY Press Release <p>Press release:</p> <blockquote> <p>Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse continues to be recognized as one of the state’s “best companies to work for.”</p> <p>For the fifth consecutive year, the New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM) has included the Batavia-based substance use treatment, prevention and recovery agency on</p></blockquote>
Medication-assisted-treatment has many names, but one goal: To save lives of those in recovery https://www.thebatavian.com/mike-pettinella/medication-assisted-treatment-has-many-names-but-one-goal-to-save-lives-of-those-in

No matter what term is used – and there are several of them, the practice of combining medication and treatment for people struggling with substance use disorder has a singular goal: Saving lives.

“Medication-Assisted-Treatment – or MAT – is an evidence-based program that has been shown to make a positive difference in saving lives for persons with an opiate use disorder. And it's considered the gold standard for treatment of opiate use disorder,” said Ann Bowback, clinical director at Spectrum Health & Human Services in Warsaw.

Bowback is the project director for the Partnership to Address Opioid Epidemic and Save Lives in Western New York Through Medication-Assisted-Treatment, a program funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Speaking at the GOW Opioid Task Force quarterly meeting recently, she explained that her program, in collaboration with Evergreen Health, is looking to increase the number of persons receiving MAT within the Spectrum agencies by at least 200 per year.

“We work to link people with a prescriber the same day, if possible, but at the latest within 72 hours of their initial visit with us,” she said. "We also will add two additional data waiver subscribers per year in order to meet the needs of these additional 200 people. And with this grant, our goal is to ensure that all the MAT clients are offered peer services (recovery advocates) within 60 days of admission.”

Other speakers at the meeting, which took place at The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road and provided access via Zoom videoconferencing, were Melissa Weingarten, Wyoming County Jail nurse, and Kathy Hodgins, chief clinical officer at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Bowback said most substance use disorder providers along with jails and prisons are taking a “whole patient approach” to treatment.

“MAT is more than just medication,” she said. “For some members of the recovery community, including our Evergreen partner, they refer to this as MAR – medication-assisted-recovery. This can be a referred term for some people because it emphasizes a person's commitment to recovery while using medications, and they may or may not be involved with treatment.”

She also said it can be referred to as MOUD (medications for opioid use disorder), which zeroes in on the importance of medication and addressing opiate use, and also as OTP (opioid treatment program) or OBOD (office based opiate treatment).

“PWUD stands for people who use drugs as we’re ideally trying to get away from some of the stigmatizing language like addicts and things like that,” she added. “OUD stands for opiate use disorder and OTP is where you would get medication such as methadone.”

Currently, the Food & Drug Administration has approved three medications for treatment of opiate use disorder -- methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine, Bowback said.

“All medications work a little differently, but all basically normalize brain chemistry in order to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms,” she noted. “Methadone was first used in 1947 to treat opioid addiction and critics complained at that time that methadone merely exchanged one drug for another which led to strict government control over methadone, and that continues today.

“Now, in order to receive methadone for an opiate use disorder, you have to obtain it from an OTP. And although methadone is very effective, some individuals are hesitant to take this medication.”

Bowback said Spectrum offers naltrexone (brand name, Vivitrol), which was approved to treat opiate use disorder in 2010.

“The extended-release formulation is generally preferred for the treatment of opiate use disorder,” she said. “But some individuals do still prefer the pill form. Our prescribers will typically start a person on the pill form prior to prescribing the injection just to ensure the person is able to tolerate it. In order to receive this medication, though, the person cannot have opiates in their system; otherwise, they'll experience withdrawal. So, you must be abstinent for at least seven days.”

Spectrum also offers buprenorphine (also known as suboxone) for MAT, she said. In the 60s, buprenorphine was developed for treatment of pain and approved for treatment of opiate use disorder in 2002.

“Unlike methadone, a person almost immediately receives a seven-day script and within a very short time is able to receive a script for 28 days, which results in less daily disruption to lifestyles,” she advised. “You don't have to be present at a clinic daily … and you don't have to be abstinent for seven days in order to receive the medication.”

Medications reduce withdrawal and cravings and, as a result, decreases the use of illicit drugs and overdose, stabilizes the brain and “most of all, saves lives,” Bowback said.

“It also socially decreases criminal activity and reduces risk of transmission of communicable diseases, reduces risky sexual activity, and increases engagement with treatment.”

MAT is at the core of services at GCASA, which offers an integrated treatment and OTP clinic at its main location in Batavia as well as clinical services at its Orleans County location in Albion, Hodgins said.

“When I started at GCASA in 2002, we were already doing medication-assisted-treatment with alcohol, using naltrexone to treat alcohol dependence,” she said. “And then shortly after, we did start using buprenorphine -- suboxone for opiate use disorder individuals that came in.”

Hodgins said GCASA counselors and medical professionals treat medication for substance use disorder “similar to any kind of medication that you take.”

“So, those on medication are definitely in recovery – it just assists with the recovery. And it really does help reduce the cravings and the physical withdrawal.”

Weingarten shared that Wyoming County Jail started its MAT program in early 2020, offering suboxone and naltrexone.

“We provide medication to those who have been on MAT programs in the community, as long as we can verify that they’ve been in treatment and continued to get it,” she said.

She also mentioned that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation that requires all prisons and jails, beginning in October, to provide MAT to inmates.

“So, we've started that way before she's required it,” she said, adding that the jail program includes individual and group counseling – and connection to peer recovery advocates.

Hodgins said “it just makes sense” to keep incarcerated people on medication, especially considering the rising overdose rates. GCASA provides services to inmates in six jails or prisons, including Genesee, Orleans, Albion, Groveland, Wyoming and Attica.

“Our common goal in our community is to save lives and I’m grateful that the state is on board with that,” she said. “I believe the best way to proceed is to start with a thorough assessment while they’re in jail and getting them on the right medication prior to release. That is how we’re going to save additional lives in our community.”

Photo: Melissa Weingarten, right, Wyoming County Jail nurse, makes a point as Kathy Hodgins, chief clinical officer at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, during the GOW Opioid Task Force meeting at The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road. Submitted photo.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/mike-pettinella/medication-assisted-treatment-has-many-names-but-one-goal-to-save-lives-of-those-in#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/mike-pettinella/medication-assisted-treatment-has-many-names-but-one-goal-to-save-lives-of-those-in May 3, 2022, 10:31am GCASA Medication-assisted-treatment has many names, but one goal: To save lives of those in recovery mikepett <p></p><div class="align-right"> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img loading="lazy" src="https://www.thebatavian.com/sites/default/files/users/129907/2022-05/gow3a.jpg" width="460" height="222"> </div> </div> No matter what term is used – and there are several of them, the practice of combining medication and treatment for people struggling with substance use disorder has a singular goal: Saving lives. <p>“Medication-Assisted-Treatment – or MAT – is an evidence-based program that has been shown to make a positive</p>