For over 30 years, Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) has used evidence-based practices to treat adults, adolescents and families affected by the disease of addiction. Located in western Buffalo, 90 minutes from the Canadian border, Erie County Medical Center claims to offer the most comprehensive treatment services in Western New York, providing detox, residential care and outpatient services for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.
Accommodations and Food
The 53-bed inpatient program (35 beds for residential and 18 for detox) is located on the ninth floor of the Erie County Medical Center. Residential and detox services are provided for adults ages 18 and over. All rooms are double occupancy with an adjacent bathroom, and while the unit is a traditional hospital setting, clients sleep in conventional twin beds rather than hospital beds.
ECMC has a day room, where clients can watch TV during free time, a nurse’s station, dining area, a small kitchen for snacks and drinks, counseling offices and a large day room for group therapy. Laundry facilities are on the unit and clients are responsible for washing their own clothes, but the hospital staff washes all linens.
Meals are served three times per day and brought to the unit from the hospital cafeteria. Clients are involved in meal planning and work with dietitians one-on-one to devise a weekly menu with a variety of healthy options. In this manner, dietary requests can be accommodated. Caffeine is permitted in the morning and while sugar is not restricted, the client’s kitchen is stocked with fruit, yogurt, cereal, juice and tea.
Treatment and Staff
Clients often begin treatment in detox. ECMC provides a full medical detox, using Suboxone for opiates and Librium for alcohol, all managed by a physician and 24-hour nursing staff. Depending on the severity of withdrawals, the typical length of stay is three to five days, at which point many clients begin treatment in the residential program.
The residential substance abuse program is 28 days long and utilizes CBT and DBT as its primary therapeutic modalities. Group and individual therapy, supplemented by the 12 steps and experiential therapy, are its building blocks.
The typical schedule is a 6:30 am wake up with breakfast at 7:15. Clients attend group therapy from 8 until 11:30 am. Lunch is brought to the unit at noon with free time after lunch. Sessions begin again at 2 pm and last until 5 pm. Group topics include relapse prevention, success strategies and spirituality and process groups. Gender specific groups, often dealing with trauma, take place twice a week. Educational classes include addiction studies, an introduction to the 12 steps, communication strategies and vocational training. Residents attend 12-step meetings on the hospital premises three nights per week. All clients see a Master’s-level therapist once a week for individual therapy. Clients with co-occurring disorders see a psychiatrist for medication management and are assigned a counselor trained in or familiar with their diagnosis.
The treatment team consists of a psychiatrist, nursing staff, Master’s-level therapists, LADCs, nutritionists and treatment technician assistants. The client-to-staff ratio at ECMC is a respectable six-to-one.
Outpatient services for adults and adolescents are offered at three satellite clinics in Buffalo. Outpatient treatment services start with an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which is a six-day-a-week, two-hour-a-day program for those needing intensive stabilization to remain drug and alcohol free. Duration is typically 16 weeks, but may be shorter depending on progress. Discussion topics are similar in scope to the residential program and sessions are an hour long. IOP clients also have individual therapy once per week and attend group and educational sessions daily. Dual diagnosis clients see a psychiatrist once a month for medication management. Any family counseling is scheduled as needed.
Regular outpatient clients meet twice per week for 90-minutes of group therapy and individual therapy is scheduled as needed. All three clinics also provide treatment for adolescents. The adolescent outpatient program meets three afternoons per week for two hours. Topics include peer pressure, gender specific groups, family communication and dynamics and peer talk back. Sober activities are also scheduled. Parents and legal guardians are required to attend family group once a week in support of their kids.
LADCs facilitate all sessions in the outpatient clinics, and clients have access to Master’s-level therapists and a psychiatrist as well.
The families of residential clients are encouraged to be involved in treatment and are welcome to attend educational sessions on Saturdays, after which there is a family process group. During this process, each family member shares their experience with addiction and its effects. All families who attend meet in one large group. Visiting hours are on Sunday from noon to 3 pm. All visitors must be approved the treatment team prior to arriving on the unit and all guests must be at least 13 years old.
Erie County Medical Center offers comprehensive treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders and for a reasonable fee. While treatment takes place in a traditional hospital setting, which some might be resistant to, this is a program that should appeal to those interested in a place that offers a number of treatment modalities, credentialed professionals and an involved family program.
Erie County Medical Center Corporation
462 Grider St.
Buffalo, New York
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