Located in Lower Manhattan, south of the financial district, Exponents has been in the business of helping people with addiction issues (and often HIV) for over 40 years. President and founder Howard Josepher (himself a recovering addict) started the program on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with seven ex-convicts in a converted apartment basement after serving jail time for narcotics possession. Today Josepher is actively involved in the state legislature to amend the mandatory sentencing laws, lobbying for alternative sentencing for addicts.
Exponents offers outpatient addiction services to New Yorkers who are most in need. Recovery at Exponents is based on education, peer support and esteem building actions.
Treatment and Staff
The Exponents philosophy is that addiction is a chronic health issue rather than an acute one and that addicts need care, compassion and respect as opposed to punishment and ridicule. Josepher’s treatment model for Exponents was born out of the gay community’s response to the AIDS epidemic. He saw that through education, awareness, support and self-esteem building, the men and women in Manhattan affected with HIV were able to improve their lives.
The first step in treatment at Exponents is an assessment by a CASAC worker. Each client is assigned to group therapy based on this assessment. Exponents believes in meeting people where they are at—some people are ready for an intense level of therapy, some aren’t, some might still be using when entering treatment. The goal here is sobriety, but at the client’s pace. While there are groups for those with co-occurring disorders, this is not a medical program; there is no detox and no medical staff. Dual diagnosis clients are referred out for psychiatric assessments and medication.
Exponents programs use the therapeutic community model of recovery, CBT and Seeking Safety. Group sessions are 90 minutes long and topics include disease identification, depression, building self-esteem, peer support, small group communication, relapse triggers and prevention along with gender-specific groups for trauma. Most clients see an individual therapist once per week, but more if necessary. Groups take place everyday from 11 am until 7 pm in the evening, giving clients a wide time slot to attend. While Exponents does not teach 12-step methodology or host meetings, clients are encourage to find whatever outside support they need to stay sober.
The outpatient program can last anywhere from 30 days to a year, but there is no end to the support clients receive at Exponents. Peer driven discussion groups and process groups take place weekday evenings, Monday through Friday, and are open to all past and current clients needing support.
The treatment team at Exponents consists of 39 people, many of whom are past alumni who have graduated and become either CASAC counselors or case managers. There are also Master’s-level therapists, specializing in addiction.
Mastering the Beast Within is an eight-week teaching course, taught by Howard Josepher. Over 24 classes, addicts learn the link between depression and addiction. Josepher also stresses that relapse is part of the process and people should not be punished or ridiculed for it. Students learn coping skills and how to combat negative thinking through therapy and peer support. They are also encouraged to find ways to build self-esteem through being of service and furthering education. Clients who take this course and pass are eligible to be peer counselors at Exponents.
Exponents also offers skills training for addiction and recovery at the Exponents Center for Personal & Professional Development. Among other certification courses, people can train to be CASACs and Recovery Coaches. They can also earn credentials for peer recovery training and take part in continuing education workshops.
The ARRIVE Program is dedicated to helping those with HIV/AIDS. It is an eight-week program that happens five times a year, where clients are offered health education and support services, relapse prevention classes, life skills building and vocational training to assist those who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in finding and maintaining sobriety and stability.
Exponent’s philosophy rests on the idea that knowledge is power and that depression is the underling cause of addiction. Treatment encompasses the idea that awareness, education and compassion are the antidote to the chronic illness of addiction. This is affordable treatment for the local community—Exponents accepts Medicaid as well as most insurance, but is free to the uninsured.
2 Washington St
New York, NY 10004
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Photo courtesy of nosha on flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nosha/2272209685/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikemedia Commons
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