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Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness Program

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Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn and recovering alcoholic and addict David Scofield answer questions posed by concerned parents at a past Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness meeting. File photo by Donna Newman

An outpatient facility slated to open on Technology Drive in Setauket is prepared to provide relief for those suffering from various types of addiction.

Lauren Grady, a private practice clinician and social work investigator for the New York State Department of Health, works at B.E.S.T. PLLC located in Deer Park, which she said will be expanding to Setauket in late February or early March. Grady will be speaking at the Jan. 25 Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness Program held at The Bates House and will answer questions about the services offered by B.E.S.T. and what families can do when a loved one suffers from an addiction.

Practitioners at the facility, which treats those 18 and older and provides counseling for family members who have a loved one addicted to alcohol or drugs, follow the belief that patients have an underlying mental illness.

Lauren Grady, a private practice clinician from B.E.S.T. PLLC, will be on hand for the Jan. 25 Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness Program to answer questions about a new facility in Setauket. Photo from Lauren Grady

“Not only do we want to free the addiction, but we believe the addiction is actually the function of an underlying mental illness that has never been treated,” Grady said, adding the facility utilizes intensive psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.

She said the facility has tailored new programs based on clients’ needs including nondenominational and scientifically oriented recovery groups for those who don’t like traditional faith-based anonymous groups.

The clinician, who has worked at B.E.S.T., which stands for Behavioral Enhancement and Substance abuse medicine Treatment, since 2016, said it has been opened in Deer Park since 2013. In the future, the hope is for the organization to open more facilities in Middle Island and outside of New York in Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio. B.E.S.T. is owned and operated by Dr. Tom Tuzel, who is on the psychiatric team at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, and the facility accepts most insurances and Medicaid.

Grady said she hopes Three Village residents will feel comfortable visiting B.E.S.T. when they need help.

“When people think of outpatient facilities, they think of methadone clinics, and we’re not,” Grady said. “We’re more medically based. So it would be more like you’re walking in to go see a primary care doctor or maybe even your therapist.”

She added staff members are approachable, and B.E.S.T. is a place where addicts can come and talk even if it’s just because they had a rough day.

For the clinician, who said she lost a friend to drug addiction, helping others with substance abuse problems is personal. She said many addicts are trying to feel normal and balance moods by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, when medical attention should be sought to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety. Due to her friend’s death, Grady said she understands the greater consequences of drug use.

“It’s not just about the addict,” she said. “This is an epidemic that is affecting everybody. Mental illness addiction is affecting the family, the friends, the employer and the employees. It hits everybody.”

Grady said she encourages loved ones to talk honestly with addicts and not be afraid of the consequences, such as the person ceasing to talk with them, because she said there is a potential to lose the person to overdosing.

Merrit Hartblay, a substance abuse counselor who leads the series of Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness educational programs, said he is optimistic about the facility coming to the area. He hopes having a center such as B.E.S.T. in Setauket will begin to remove the stigma of drug addiction in the area and more residents will feel comfortable addressing the issue and attending discussions like the ones presented at The Bates House. He said he feels it’s important for residents to do everything to embrace and combat the drug problem that he feels has reached epidemic proportions in the Three Village area.

“You have to get rid of the shame and the guilt and say, ‘No, we’re here because we want people to come and move to this community because they know that we are being proactive instead of reactive,’” Hartblay said.

He hopes loved ones of addicts will take advantage of the family counseling at the facility, even if their child is too young to be treated there, feeling discussions are beneficial to everyone in the addict’s life.

“Once you can get family members engaged and explain to them about the disease of addiction, and how it affects family, that it’s not just the addict but the whole family
becomes addicted to the addict. Once the family can embrace that, my three big words are always prevention, intervention, education,” Hartblay said.

Hartblay encourages Three Village residents to attend the Jan. 25 meeting and to feel comfortable asking questions in what he describes as a safe and open forum.

“You need to come out so we can hear from you, and you can understand and hear the things that we are going to do to make this community a safer community that can deal with drug addiction, that can be more proactive instead of reactive,” Hartblay added. “Deal with the issues before they become a problem. We want this to be a safe community. We want this to be a community that other people look to and say look at what the Three Village community is doing.”

The Jan. 25 meeting will be held at The Bates House located at 1 Bates Road in Setauket at 7 p.m. Heather Reilly, Three Village Central School District certified drug and alcohol counselor, will also be in attendance to answer attendees’ questions. For more information about the meeting, call 631-689-7054. For more information about B.E.S.T. call 631-392-4357.

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