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The road to recovery

A message from the president of Greenwich Hospital

The pandemic has impacted the physical and mental health of most of us, particularly those struggling with substance use disorders. The need to social distance, avoid group settings and quarantine when necessary has created barriers for individuals seeking treatment for addiction. Economic anxiety, loneliness and the stress of COVID-19 have led to an uptick in the number of people misusing alcohol or drugs and threatened those on the path to recovery.

Now the good news.

As Amir Garakani, MD, notes in our cover story, advances in addiction medicine have transformed the way we understand and treat the disease. We now know that treating a person’s underlying mood and anxiety problems are a critical part of treating their addiction, as substance and mental health problems are inextricably connected.

A board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Garakani is medical director of Greenwich Hospital’s Addiction Recovery Center (ARC), where thousands of individuals have sought treatment during the past four decades. Dr. Garakani is also chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Greenwich Hospital. ARC offers outpatient, scientifically based services that address the biological, psychological and behavioral needs of each patient, including group, individual and family counseling, medication-assisted treatment and psychiatric therapy. Patients can meet with clinicians in person or via telemedicine.

Among those on the recovery path is Keith O’Leary, featured in this issue. O’Leary considers the clinicians and fellow patients at ARC his “saving grace” for helping him confront an alcohol addiction. He credits his sobriety, in part, to the support of a kind friend (who took him in and directed him to our treatment center) and the other ARC patients who have become his family.

As we start a new year, I’m encouraged by O’Leary’s journey. His willingness to share his story helps to chip away at the stigma associated with addiction in the hope of creating a world that is more compassionate to people facing addiction issues.

Diane P. Kelly, President