Substance Use Disorder Treatment at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center
Care For The Whole Person, Not Just One Condition
Recovering from a substance abuse disorder (SUD) is difficult, and that journey may be long. But the road to recovery can begin close to home, at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.
Northern New Jersey individuals that struggle with alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs can receive comprehensive care at the Paramus-located center, leaving them close to families, friends, jobs, schools or other members of their support system.
The Bergen New Bridge Medical Center’s Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program provides services that include inpatient medical detoxification, an intensive outpatient program and care for patients’ other medical needs, said Srikanth Reddy, MD, chief of Addiction Services at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.
“The American Society of Addiction Medicine, or ASAM, designates five levels of care for substance use disorders, from early intervention and outpatient services at one end of the continuum to medically managed intensive inpatient services at the other end, and I am proud to say that our program is one of the few in the metropolitan area to provide all five levels,” said Dr. Reddy, a board-certified psychiatrist and addiction specialist.
There are two ways this wide range of services benefits individuals with SUD, said Michael Paolello, chief clinical officer, addiction treatment services at the medical center.
“First, we’re able to ‘meet them where they are’ in terms of their current situation, so that regardless of the nature or severity of the challenges they are facing, they can begin treatment right away,” Paolello said. “That might mean anything from medical detoxification for opioid dependence in our inpatient medical unit to participating in our intensive outpatient program. Second, once patients have received initial treatment, they have access to ongoing care in a setting that they know well and where they are well known by our team. This continuity of care is critical for someone who, for example, is moving from our short-term residential program to one of our outpatient programs.”
Paolello said that during his 25-year career as a behavioral health clinician, clinical director and chief clinical officer, he has learned that getting individuals treatment as soon he or she decides that they are ready is important.
“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my career is that when someone with a substance use disorder decides that they need help, you don’t let that moment pass,” Paolello said. “You need to seize the opportunity and get them the treatment they need. If, for instance, you tell me you that you or your loved one wants to participate in our intensive outpatient program, I’ll tell you to come tomorrow, not in a week or a month.”
He said that prompt, easy access to care plays a pivotal in a patient’s recovery, because time is not on their side. “Every eight minutes, a person in the United States dies of an opioid overdose,” Paolello said. “If you have to wait for treatment, you can die while you’re waiting.”
Making Access To Care Easy
“As a society, we need to provide as many points of entry to treatment for substance use disorders as we can, and at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, we’re committed to eliminating barriers to care,” Paolello said.
Dr. Reddy said that providing accessible treatment includes:
- Accepting all major insurance plans, as well as Medicaid (which many SUD programs do not accept) Medicare and other government health insurance programs.
- Helping uninsured patients who qualify for Medicaid enroll in the federal-state insurance program.
- Providing the 24-hour Access Center for Mental Health and Substance Use Services, available 365 days a year and staffed with individuals who will speak with anyone who calls 800-730-2762.
- Patient admissions seven days a week.
- A drop-in center for individuals concerned that they or someone they love may have a substance use problem. Visitors can speak with a staff member for free and without registering.
- Working in tandem with the Medical Center’s Emergency Department in managing patients who come or are transported to the hospital in need of urgent treatment of substance use-related issues.
A Wide Range Of Services To Address Varied Needs
Individuals seeking care from the Bergen New Bridge Medical Center Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program undergo a comprehensive assessment to identify the substance use challenges they face, along with other behavioral or medical conditions they may have.
Based on those findings, and the levels-of-care criteria established by ASAM, patients may be directed to services that include:
- Inpatient medical detoxification. The medical center’s 84-bed inpatient unit includes physicians who are board-certified in addiction psychiatry or addiction medicine, as well as registered nurses and other health care professionals. The staff closely monitors patients as they withdraw from alcohol, opiates, or benzodiazepines in a safe and controlled setting. According to Dr. Reddy, a medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, which is used for inpatient detoxification and in some outpatient programs, is the “gold standard” for treating chemical addiction. “Detoxification represents the start of treatment, not the end of treatment, and once this step is completed, the patient moves to the type of care most appropriate for him or her,” Paolello said. He also said that the majority of individuals with an opioid use disorder need medical detoxification as an initial step in their care.
- Short-term residential care. This program provides a structured environment with round-the-clock support for those undergoing inpatient treatment.
- Dual-diagnosis partial hospitalization program. Designed for those with both chemical addiction and a behavioral health condition who need daily medical and nursing attention. The program, which is a component of the medical center’s behavioral health services, includes daily structured group treatment.
- Intensive outpatient program. Paolello said the program is the “next stop” for many individuals who have received inpatient care. It’s also the “first stop” for others in need of a high level of outpatient services. Participants meet for three hours, three days a week. The program is based on the 12-step model of care and features counseling, psychodrama, family participation and spiritual guidance. Patients are monitored by psychiatrists and certified drug counselors who determine the frequency and duration of participation in the program.
- Suboxone Support Group. This is an outpatient program that monitors patients who are being treated with Suboxone. Participants attend at least three group sessions a month, and receive their prescriptions from a board-certified addiction psychiatry or addiction medicine specialist. Participants are monitored closely to ensure that they have negative toxicology tests.
- Vivitrol Support Group. Offers medical monitoring and group therapy to patients prescribed Vivitrol to treat their opioid or alcohol dependency. Participants attend at least one meeting per month, and receive their prescriptions from board-certified addiction psychiatry or medicine specialists.
- Senior citizen medication, intervention and solutions service. An outpatient program that focuses on individuals age 65 and older. Getting older is sometimes accompanied by more health conditions, as well as a variety of prescriptions to treat those ailments. The program will help individuals deal with issues that may arise from using multiple medications, including pain killers, sedatives and sleeping pills. Treatment recommendations are made following an evaluation of all the medications a patient is taking and an assessment of possible drug-drug interactions.
Care For The Whole Person, Not Just One Condition
Many health challenges accompany individuals with a substance use disorder, and their recovery may depend on addressing those issues, Dr. Reddy said.
“Many of our patients suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions, or may have medical issues such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C,” Dr. Reddy said. “We’re here to help them with all of those conditions, so that they have the best possible chance to not only achieve recovery but to enjoy optimal health overall.”
Bergen New Bridge Medical Center offers the dual-diagnosis partial hospitalization program and other behavioral health services. Psychiatrists also collaborate closely with their colleagues in other specialties to ensure that chronic and acute medical conditions also are treated.
Dr. Reddy said that taking a holistic approach to overall care is helpful in addressing factors that may contribute to substance abuse. This approach is more important that ever, given the stresses created by COVID-19.
“We had an opioid use epidemic before the coronavirus arrived, and the last year or more has only intensified the pressures and anxiety people are feeling, leading to further substance abuse and other behavioral health problems,” he said.
But there is good news. Dr. Reddy said that there are effective ways to address substance use disorders that are readily available nearby at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center’s Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program.
“Recovery is a lifelong commitment. It means filling the void that is created when you dislodge alcohol or drugs from being the center of your existence,” Paolello said. “But that void can be filled with so many wonderful things: family, friends, work and activities that you care about. People come to us with a lot of issues — and not always a lot of hope — but I’ve seen miracles unfold. I meet people two to three years after they have been treated in our programs, and you would never be able to guess that they once had been addicted.”
Dr. Reddy said Bergen New Bridge Medical Center provides the tools needed for individuals suffering from a substance use disorder.
“We have the entire continuum of care here, and we’re here to help people rebuild their lives in a setting that keeps them at home or close to home,” he said. “If people will take the first step and reach out, we’ll work with them and walk with them the rest of the way.”
Accessing Substance Use Disorder Treatment at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center
Individuals seeking care for themselves or for a loved one with an SUD can:
- Call the Access Center at 800-730-2762. Operators are available 24 hours a day every day of the year.
- Visit the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program’s drop-in center at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center to talk with a program staff member. There is no charge and no need to register as a patient. The center is open to those worried about themselves, as well as who are worried about a relative or friend.
When necessary, come to the medical center’s Emergency Department at 230 East Ridgewood Ave. in Paramus
The Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center: 10 Fast Facts
- Provides care to more than 15,000 adults each year, with patients coming from across New Jersey and from surrounding states.
- Admissions to treatment seven days a week.
- Access Center assesses individuals and guides them to appropriate type and level of care.
- Accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and major commercial insurance plans.
- Offers all five levels of care defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
- Four physicians board-certified in addiction psychiatry or addiction medicine.
- Certified counselors with extensive experience in working with patients with substance use disorder.
- 84-bed inpatient medical detoxification unit.
- Provides continuity of care through a wide range of inpatient and outpatient programs.
- Dual-diagnosis care for patients with co-occurring behavioral health conditions and chemical addiction, as well as coordinated medical care for SUD patients’ other physical conditions.
By the Numbers: Substance Use and Abuse in New Jersey
- 01% of the Garden State’s adults, or roughly 483,000 people, had a substance use disorder in the past year.1
- An estimated 69,000 New Jersey residents had an opioid use disorder in 2018-2019.2
- There were 2,900 drug overdose deaths reported in New Jersey in 2018. Almost 90% of the fatalities — 2,583 deaths — involved opioids.3
- 1% of New Jersey men aged 18-34 years reported binge drinking, defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion, in the past 30 days, in the latest available state survey.4
- An estimated 23,000 New Jersey residents younger than age 18 had a substance use disorder in the past year.1
- Mental Health America. The State of Mental Health in America. Available at https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america. Accessed May 23, 2021.
- Kaiser Family Foundation. State Health Facts: Individuals reporting past year disorder. Available at https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/past-year-opioid-use-disorder. Accessed May 23, 2021.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. New Jersey: Opioid-involved deaths and related harms. Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/new-jersey-opioid-involved-deaths-related-harms. Accessed May 23, 2021.
- New Jersey State Department of Health. Health indicator report of alcohol consumption – binge drinking. Available at https://www-doh.state.nj.us/doh-shad/indicator/view/AlcConBinDri.sex_age.html. Accessed May 23, 2021.