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New addiction clinic in Syracuse aims to help with increased rates of drug and alcohol addiction

Ellen Abbott
Monika Taylor, director of Addiction Treatment Services at Crouse Health

People facing drug and alcohol addiction have an opportunity to be treated in a new state-of-the-art facility operated by Crouse Hospital in Syracuse. The outpatient facility opens at a time when doctors expect continued fallout from increased rates of drug and alcohol abuse during the pandemic.

One of the first things you notice entering the brightly lit modern facility is the dosing area. Beyond a reception desk, there’s a room that features several individual stations that allows nurses to administer medication like suboxone, which reduces cravings for opioids.

Monika Taylor, director of Addiction Treatment Services at Crouse Health, said during a recent tour of the facility that nurses can easily administer the drug.

"They verify the patient in front of them, they pull-up the patient on the computer, and the system automatically dispenses the right amount of liquid medication, the patents takes it in front of the nurse, drinks some water and they’re good to go for the day," said Taylor.

Other features of the $17 million facility include -- larger areas for recreational therapy, a life skills lab, a bathroom and shower for patients, and an outside area.

This new facility is almost double the size of the old one that hosted the program for more than three decades. And that creates room for extras. Taylor’s favorite is the ability to separate men from women during treatment.

“A lot of our women have pretty significant trauma histories. And being in a room with men, especially if they had experienced trauma at the hand of a man, is just retraumatizing,” Taylor said. “So it was important for us to have gender specific treatment where women can just be among women for their care."

This expansion comes at a significant time, with a record number of opioid drug overdose deaths last year. Taylor said the pandemic has created more stress and opportunity for drug addiction, and she believes it will be months before experts get the full picture of how isolation and anxiety have exacerbated the opioid epidemic.

“I don’t think we truly understand yet how much of an increase we really have in society for drug and alcohol use,” she said.

Crouse’s outpatient program currently serves about 1,200 patients, most of them for opioid addiction.  Taylor said this new space will allow for another 300 patients and provide a more holistic treatment that can lead to recovery.

"It’s more complete and more comprehensive in what we can do here,” she said. “There were limitations in the old buildings. And here the ability to do things outside, having large rooms inside for activities and life skills, those are all things I feel will be beneficial for the patients.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.