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A place of 'hope' for substance abusers - Record Online

Catholic Charities' clinics serve thousands in Orange, Sullivan

GOSHEN – If you’re in Orange or Sullivan counties and you want treatment for a substance abuse issue, there is a place.

Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County has eight chemical dependency clinics where the organization offers outpatient treatment to all comers. CCCSOC, one of the largest treatment providers in the mid-Hudson region, also has substance abuse services for adolescents.

“We open our doors regardless of race, religion, culture or ability to pay,” said Executive Director Dean Scher.

In 2015, Catholic Charities provided a variety of services to more than 30,000 people in the two counties, with more than 3,500 of those people getting addiction treatment. CCCSOC took over management of The Recovery Center in Monticello a few months ago.

Scher discussed CCCSOC’s philosophy on treatment earlier this month at the organization's new offices at 27 Matthew St. in Goshen, along with Martin Colavito, director of prevention services for Orange and Sullivan counties; Gina Matthews, the program director at the Middletown clinic; and communications director Kristin Jensen.

“We pride ourselves on taking a holistic approach,” Scher said, incorporating psychological and social services counseling to address mental health issues that may accompany substance abuse.

Scher said studies from Harvard University indicate that the substances people abuse are not coincidental, and may, in fact, be a form of self-medication through street drugs.

The first step is to guide someone toward “some degree of abstinence,” Scher said, and to evaluate their mental state. If needed, clients can then be referred to a psychiatrist for any medications that may help them.

“We then try to help them put a focus on things that they may have spent a lifetime trying not to,” Scher said. “At the beginning of treatment, we work with people who are emotionally color blind. They see things as something black or white. And we try to help them see shades of gray, and eventually color.”

Therapy – group and individual – can help them examine and confront the issues that have plagued them, Matthews said.

“Some people, they really struggle to understand their issues,” Matthews said.

CCCSOC also works toward prevention with outreach and education programs, including its partnership in Team Newburgh and participation with Port Jervis Pride.

Dealing with substance abuse issues in a community is a lot like dealing with them in an individual, Colavito said: People need to feel safe. In Newburgh, that has meant 40 public service agencies walking the streets together, talking to people, handing out information and offering help to those in crisis.

“The one thing that I believe we need to cultivate is hope,” Colavito said. “There is hope before it starts. There is hope for people who are experiencing the disease. There’s hope for their families.”