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CHESS Health to offer virtual recovery support meetings

Rochester’s CHESS Health, a leading provider of comprehensive addiction technology and support services, has added virtual recovery support meetings to its evidence-based Connections smartphone app.

CHESS Health’s virtual support meetings, or “Alongsides,” offer individuals in substance use disorder recovery a moderated forum to meet and share with peers from anywhere with internet access. The meetings are moderated by CHESS Health’s peer engagement specialists using the integrated video communication functionality within the Connections app.

Each meeting has a theme, which allows patients to choose from and engage in meaningful topics to support their recovery.

“Support meetings are a vital component for many in recovery, and we’re excited to add meetings as another feature of the Connections app,” said CHESS Health CEO Hans Morefield. “Through the Alongside meetings, our peer recovery specialists have enhanced the supportive community spirit that is the foundation of the recovery experience in Connections.”

The new offering is particularly vital now, officials noted, as substance use has increased during the pandemic. In June 2020, 13 percent of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recent data compiled by the American Medical Association indicates that the pandemic also has made “the nation’s drug overdose epidemic worse,” officials noted.

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Huther Doyle to offer mobile substance use disorder services

Huther Doyle has been awarded two grants through the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) that have enabled the opening of the organization’s Mobile Treatment Unit, which will premier its services on the Westside of Monroe County. The Mobile Treatment Unit will begin operations this month to provide substance use disorder services.

The intent is to bring mobile unit services to remote areas to support individuals who would not normally enter a treatment program due to stigma or who are unable to travel to areas where treatment is more readily available. The targeted areas of this grant include the western portion of Monroe County, as well as portions of neighboring counties to the west. Eventually, Huther Doyle will explore using the van to support Monroe County Treatment Courts and other areas throughout the county, officials said.

“Substance use disorder has long been considered an epidemic in our community and across the nation. But it has most certainly become a bigger concern since COVID-19 started. In fact, the national drug testing labs Millennium and Quest have both reported a vast increase in drug use and abuse since the start of the pandemic,” said Huther Doyle President and CEO Kelly Reed. “Consider this, in the period beginning March 13th through the end of May 2020, Millennium found when compared to the period January 1 through March 13th, there was a 32 percent increase in non-prescribed fentanyl, a 12.5 percent increase in heroin use and a 10 percent increase in cocaine use. This was accompanied by an 18 percent increase in the number of suspected drug overdoses.”

Reed also noted that Quest tracked and compared drug positivity rates for the same periods and found a 35 percent increase in non-prescribed fentanyl and a 44 percent increase in heroin use.

“This has only gotten worse over the course of the past 12 months,” Reed said. “While the nation continues its important focus on the COVID pandemic, we must also maintain a laser focus on the drug and alcohol misuse epidemic which continues to kill nearly 70,000 Americans every year.”

The Mobile Unit will be staffed with counselors, peers and medical providers offering state-of-the-art treatment services to community members in need of intervention. The unit will follow a daily schedule that includes locations in various westside towns and villages.

“This new mobile treatment unit will allow us to expand our lifesaving services to previously underserved areas and help us continue to meet people where they are when it comes to their addiction treatment needs,” said OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “Mobile treatment offerings have added a critical component to our continuum of care and have allowed us to reach more people who may not otherwise have been connected to the help and support that they need. We look forward to the benefits that this will bring to Monroe County and the nearby area.”

Services provided will include treatment evaluations, counseling, peer supports and Medication Assisted Treatment. Huther Doyle has been working with local agencies and organizations to spread the word about the unit, which will be placed in low traffic, discreet areas and is unmarked to allow help while also ensuring the protected privacy of those who seek treatment.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer