BRADFORD — Valley Vista, an inpatient substance abuse treatment facility that serves patients all over Vermont, is offering a specific program to treat young men ages 16 to 22.
The Recovery Expedition Course will provide treatment for substance abuse as well as educational opportunities for those patients who are school-aged to be tutored.
John Caceres, marketing director for Valley Vista, said one of the primary reasons for the new program is to reduce the length of time a person will have to wait before getting treatment.
“The second piece of it is, right now what we’re seeing is the greatest population that’s most affected by the opioid crisis is the young adult male, generally in the 16 to 22 (year-old) range,” Caceres said.
Fourteen beds will be designated for the recovery program, which will be at Valley Vista’s Bradford campus and replaces the adolescent treatment program that served male and female patients between the ages of 13 and 17.
Caceres said the change was made after staff members at Valley Vista noticed that a number of the beds in the adolescent treatment program were unused. In 2016 and 2017, six 13- and 14-year-old patients came through the adolescent program, Caceres said. Patients that age seemed to be getting served by mental health providers instead of substance abuse centers, he said.
Caceres said open beds in one program meant that other patients were potentially being turned away from starting treatment for periods as long as three weeks.
“On a rare occasion, three weeks, but still even a week can be too much in some instances,” he said.
Some of the 14 beds are open but Caceres pointed out the program was only about a month old, and Valley Vista wanted to “ease into it in a way that’s best for everybody.”
While Valley Vista is hopeful the new program will reduce the pressure on wait lists, other steps are being taken, including changes to the intake process and a proposal to add two beds to the men’s unit.
“We have experienced extended wait lists for some time, particularly on the men’s unit. All too often, would-be patients have experienced overdoses while waiting for an inpatient treatment bed to become available. That’s just not acceptable. Launching the (Recovery Expedition) program offers a solution,” said Amanda Hudak, treatment director at Valley Vista, in a statement.
With the limited number of substance-abuse treatment centers in Vermont, Caceres said Valley Vista’s patients come from all over the state.
“We see a lot of folks coming from the Rutland area and Addison County, Windsor County — really, all over the state,” he said.
Most of the patients come from population centers like Rutland, Barre, Montpelier, Burlington and Brattleboro.
Patients can access the services of the Recovery Expedition program through a court order to seek treatment, referral from a medical provider or by seeking out the program of their own volition.
Caceres said it would be difficult to estimate how long a patient might stay because it’s so dependent on the patient.
Valley Vista became licensed for the Recovery Expedition program in July and started accepting patients on Oct. 1.
Two new staff members, a recovery specialist and another therapist, are expected to be added. The education providers are continuing from the adolescent program.
In a statement, Brenda Dawson, a supervisor for residential licensing for the Vermont Department for Children and Families, said the new program shows Valley Vista’s ability to take steps to help those affected by the opioid crisis.
“With this realignment of their underutilized adolescent program, the ability to reduce inpatient treatment wait lists will surely help save lives and reduce the number of overdoses that can happen while waiting for a residential bed to become available,” Dawson said.