Pathways Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Ten years ago the State of Maryland and Anne Arundel County partnered with Anne Arundel Medical Center to create a much-needed drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for teenagers. Today, that program—now under the auspices of Anne Arundel Health System—has developed into a widely respected 12-step program for teens as well as adults and is one of only two private programs for adolescents in the state. Located on a private, wooded, eight-acre site just minutes from downtown Annapolis, Pathways is a state-of-the-art facility designed for the physical, emotional and social needs of its patients.
As the 10-year anniversary approaches, Pathways Director Shirley Knelly and new medical director, Dr. Roopam Sood-Khandpur, talk about drug abuse in Anne Arundel County and some of Pathways’ goals for its second decade.
Increase in Drug Use
Over the last decade, Knelly has seen a disturbing trend towards greater heroin use among teens. “Alcohol is still the number one problem across the nation—among teens and adults—but in Anne Arundel County, we’re seeing more heroin use, and the users are getting younger and younger. ”
When she came to Pathways in 1995, the breakdown of drug and alcohol use showed 35 percent alcohol abuse, 24 percent marijuana, 16.5 percent cocaine and 12.7 percent heroin. Last year, statistics show 47 percent alcohol abuse, 19 percent marijuana, 8 percent cocaine and 16 percent heroin. Dr. Khandpur said they are also seeing more patients with multiple issues. “Some are ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder) and dependent on drugs, or others may be dealing with multiple addictions,” she said.
Working with patients with multiple issues is a challenge for Pathways, but Knelly said having the hospital as a resource has been an enormous help over the past decade. “The hospital has always provided expertise in domestic violence, spiritual care, dietary, pain management and grief counseling, and that’s not all. We really couldn’t operate without the financial support of the hospital,” she said.
Pathways offers inpatient and outpatient treatment for adolescents 13-17 years of age and for adults 18 and older. “Our goal always has been to help each individual attain the physical, emotional and social tools to reach recovery. The primary focus is the individual—and how to help him or her regain self-respect and a sober lifestyle,” said Knelly. The program is guided by the philosophy that addiction is a progressive illness, treatable through professional and compassionate care, strong family involvement, education and ongoing support.
Dr. Khandpur said, “Historically, addiction programs have focused heavily on interventions that can sometimes be confrontational. We’re shifting away from that model to a more encouraging atmosphere—one that has a more holistic approach. Our staff is trained to treat bio-psycho-social issues. In other words, we’re looking at the mind, body and spirit, not just the symptoms of addiction. We’re using more positive motivation than we have in the past.” Knelly said, “We’re also learning that early intervention has the best results—that, like any other debilitating illness, addiction is a progressive disease; the earlier it’s diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.”
A new program underway assists physicians who need to detoxify patients dependent on prescription medication. Pain is a major health problem that seriously affects individuals, their families and the community at large. Often medications used to treat chronic non-malignant pain may lead to physical dependence. For some well-documented physical conditions, patients require a change in medication or a cessation of medication. Pathways’ new Prescription Medication Detoxification Program provides outpatient detoxification services to patients referred by their physicians. Pathways delivers this care in a carefully coordinated fashion in order to minimize discomfort and risk of serious health problems for the patient and to improve and maximize the patients quality of life.
Evolving Programs Continue to Have Positive Results
Even with the rise of more dangerous drugs and more patients with multiple addictions, Pathways is seeing positive outcomes. Pathways continues to develop and revise current modalities to keep up with the changing needs of the individuals and families who suffer from the disease of addiction.
Knelly said, “Addiction is often an overlooked and stigmatized disease that does respond to treatment and a supportive environment. Treatment does work, and it is Pathways’ goal to continue to provide quality services in a manner that restores a person’s dignity and respect.”