Brian Garrity, lead Peer Recovery Coach for SaVida Health, has been in recovery for nine years and abstaining from all mood-altering substances – including nicotine and medication for an opioid use disorder – for 2½ years.
His journey has been long and full of twists and turns, including medication, willpower, faith and years of healing, both of himself and others.
What he received on this journey, and more specifically what he did not receive – a consistent comprehensive network of support –is what drew him to his career with SaVida Health Maine.
Maine is unique. Maine is progressive. More importantly, Maine has intentionally decided that those struggling with an opioid use disorder deserve the best of what we know and what we have access to. While Medicaid coverage for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) varies by state, with patients in some parts of the country getting little more than the medication itself, Maine – and specifically SaVida Health Maine –have decided that this is just not enough.
“We bring all of the services that support people with substance use disorder under one roof,” Brian said. “When you visit our Opioid Health Home, you will be given access to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to explore, and possibly receive treatment for, both substance use and co-occurring mental health, if that’s part of your story. You will be given access to a peer (another individual in recovery from opioid use) and a medical provider and offered case management services.”
Having a whole team in one location is ideal, especially for members with transportation struggles. But the whole team approach goes deeper. Brian reflected upon one member’s experience, which is actually a common one:
“He missed an appointment, became anxious about rescheduling, and after a couple of days, had convinced himself he lost the opportunity to attend,“ Brian said. “Over the course of those days, he found himself surprised to get messages from various members of his recovery team, concerned about his well-being and wanting to plug him back into the program. He didn’t know whether to be annoyed or impressed!”
At SaVida Health Maine, treatment plans target not just sobriety but wellness, or what the SaVida team refers to as Recovery Health.
“Addiction causes physical disease, emotional disease, spiritual disease, relational disease, legal disease, financial disease – it affects every area of life,” Brian explained. “As individuals seeking recovery, we need to address and find healing for all those areas to achieve real recovery and health. And we’re there to help hold you accountable to the path of recovery that you identified you needed and are working toward.”
“Compassionate accountability” is the term Director of Behavioral Health Abbie Rohde coined to describe the structures through which SaVida Health Maine helps members stay on the path of recovery they chose for themselves. Frequent check-ins and randomly scheduled urine screenings are part of the process, as are honest conversations about any setbacks. Treatment goals, and all of the smaller, daily steps that both the member and team committed to, drive treatment.
Abbie’s background is almost entirely in mental health, and as an affected loved one, she frequently reflects on her own family’s struggle to support her family members to find overall wellness. Building a program that individualized care for the member, in a system that often relies on group treatment and access to multidisciplinary professionals, was SaVida Health’s first mission.
“We intended to do this, to build this treatment program like no one else here in Maine,” Abbie said. “This started with the education, training and experience of our providers.” For Abbie, this meant providers who are licensed to treat both mental illness and substance use.
This commitment to Maine individuals and communities has not gone unnoticed, nor has SaVida Health’s ability to think outside the box and mobilize when needed. As a result, SaVida Health was approached by the Maine Office of Behavioral Health and Substance Use and awarded a grant to engage in bridge services for various small communities in central and northern Maine.
“We are committed to bring recovery coaching, access to providers and medication, referrals to harm reduction services and/or higher levels of care, into these tiny towns,” Brian said. “We want them to seek out SaVida Health. However, we are more committed to connecting them to any program or resources that will help them recapture their lives.”