June 30, 2008
Modern Fix for the Age-Old Fix
By Kahn, Kathy
Even in today's "anything goes" society, some things still remain a stigma.
"There were just four of us in the beginning," said Marcus, sitting at the center's newest Rockland county location in Suffern on Route 59. "Originally, it was me and three other nurses who began the program, which traces its roots back to Westchester Medical Center.
"We started out as 'The Weekend Center' in 1976 and originally kept our focus on alcoholism. We opened a center in Mt. Kisco that was probably no bigger than a bread box, but we weren't lonely. There were always people in there who needed someone to talk to. Addiction doesn't end at 6 p.m.; it goes on 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
By 1982, Marcus and her three original partners were licensed by the state and continued their mission, eventually including those addicted to drugs. But being licensed by the state didn't help pay the bills, said Marcus. "We received no funding from anyone - just an official blessing," said Marcus.
How do you stay in business with no money coming in? The founder kept the center going with her typing business, "which was portable. I could bring my work to work at the center, and I worked many nights to keep our doors open, as did my colleagues."
The center received nonprofit status in 1983.
Lexington Center for Recovery (LCR) has now grown from its first tiny office in Westchester, expanding into Dutchess and now into Rockland counties with new offices offering services for people with addiction problems - and now programs include people of all ages.
"Our oldest client was over 90," said Marcus. "She was addicted to pain medication, and she wanted to get off it. It isn't just young people. It affects every age group from every walk of life. Our youngest clients are in high school."
LCR took over St. Francis Hospital's methadone treatment program in Poughkeepsie in 2004, where approximately 200 people are served. "We have the capacity to serve at least 250 people," said Marcus. "We hope to open another satellite in Beacon this month so people will not have to travel all the way to Poughkeepsie. For many receiving services, carfare is a burden and many don't drive. It will help us work with clients right in the community."
While half the people who attend the various programs offered by Lexington are mandated into it by the court system, many come in on their own. Marcus said addictions seem to escalate in a recession economy.
Smoking is the next addiction LCR is getting ready to tackle, "although most people don't like to think of it as a drug addiction," said Marcus. "It's truly the first addiction most people embrace. They do it as young teens, and think nothing of it. They don't see it as a stepping-stone drug. We see many of our patients recover from drug or alcohol abuse, but they do not want to let go of the nicotine addiction or even admit it is an addiction. I know it is going to be a tough sell, but the fact that it is part of the addiction picture has to become a reality for everyone."
On July 24, said Marcus, the state is going to mandate treatment of nicotine addiction and offer help to those trying to kick the habit. "That's how serious a problem it is. They can make it more expensive, but it isn't going to make people stop. Once people start accepting the fact that nicotine is a drug they are addicted to, perhaps they will be more open to receiving treatment and trying to overcome it. The health consequences are enormous, but the mental addiction can be even more overwhelming for them - it is a very important component of it. Smoking may be widely accepted in society, but it is a gateway drug."
The Lexington Center for Recovery is still headquartered in Mt. Kisco, where Dr. Marcus no longer runs the operation out of a tiny office space, but a full treatment center. She is still "on the go and retirement is a dirty word to me," said the founder.
With 13 locations and a variety of services including day rehabilitation, children's services and a PINS (persons in need of supervison) Diversion program, Marcus estimates LCR's offices treat about 1,000 clients each week in its various locations, either in groups or in individual counseling. She's looking forward to opening a new "Generations" program in Poughkeepsie this June and to continue to grow her organization,' which is geared toward mothers and their children.
"Yes, addiction is a problem most people do not want to face until they see it has affected their ability to hold a job, to keep their marriage together, or it starts to affect their children," said Marcus. "We also want to help the children of addicts not repeat the mistakes parents made. The hardest part is acknowledging the fact that you have a problem. The next part is dealing with it and the hardest part: staying sober. That's why we are here."
Times are tough, and recession is looming in the air. Is LCR worried about losing funding? "It's an election year," said Marcus, "so we've been fortunate and not seen any budget cuts. These services are desperately needed, so I hope whatever happens after the election, we are going to receive the same level of funding and support that we have in the past. Recessions and the inability to find a job only contribute to the problem. We actually see a spike in our services when things are going badly in the economy."
Lexington Center for Recovery has an operating budget of $13 million a year, which is funded by state and federal funds, grants, health insurance and self-paying clients "The main goal is to keep services available for the public."
Marcus said LCR got its name from its original street address and has no relation to like-named centers based in Kentucky.
With 180 workers who work with clients on a daily basis, Marcus said she hopes one day there won't be a need for a Lexington Center for Recovery. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were no addiction problems?" she wondered aloud. "But the sad fact is, addiction has been with us since the beginning of time. It's our goal to see the people who come through our doors become our success stories and go on to lead productive lives. That's what we hope for and that's what we strive for."
Copyright Westfair Communications Jun 9, 2008
(c) 2008 Westchester County Business Journal. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.