Sonia Ruiz

For 15 years, the Turnbridge Connecticut Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Program has offered sober living and clinical services to young adults. Participants live in residences around New Haven while undergoing treatment at a central counseling center.

Now, Turnbridge is broadening the scope of its services with outpatient programming, designed for local community members as a response to the state’s opioid crisis.

“We recognized that there is a great need in the Greater New Haven area for individuals to receive help, to get help, for substance use and mental health concerns,” said Jack Britton, primary therapist at Turnbridge. “We strongly believe in our approach … integrating a person into their community with supports not just at our clinic, but throughout where they live.”

The outpatient treatment options include a comprehensive roster of addiction treatment services, including individual therapy and psychiatric assessments, as well as consultations, medication management and group counseling. As of Dec. 4, nine clients have enrolled in Turnbridge’s Intensive Outpatient Program, which consists of three-hour therapy sessions, three evenings per week. Beyond designated treatment times, participants also benefit from therapy and meetings with a prescriber on a personal basis. After the Intensive Outpatient Program, clients are phased into a less intensive outpatient program, consisting of one hour per week of therapy at a minimum.

Whereas the core residential programs at Turnbridge deliver care to young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 — many of whom are not from Connecticut — the new community-based programming is intended to engage people from all backgrounds who live in the region. According to Jamie Hazelton, vice president of Turnbridge, the addiction treatment center is offering its services to the general community at times that can accommodate full-time workers, students and those caring for children.

“Essentially, the sky is the limit when it comes to how many patients we can serve because we can offer different time slots, and we can offer multiple groups within the specific time slots,” Hazelton said. “Right now, we’re running a full group, and we’re hoping to open more as more and more people start to find our services.”

The development of the outpatient community clinic aligns with Turnbridge’s longstanding commitment to improving access to addiction treatment. The new outpatient services mark the center’s second program expansion, following its establishment of a Young Women’s Program in June 2016. Turnbridge also works with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a health insurance network, to eliminate financial barriers to health care.

Lower costs to clients and flexible hours could make the outpatient services a viable option for students struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. According to Britton, not only have Yale students enrolled in the residential programs at Turnbridge in the past, but students in need of treatment are also welcomed by the community outpatient clinic.

“We understand that students at Yale have demanding coursework. They have many pursuits, and we want them to have an opportunity for wellness in addition to everything else that they’re doing,” Britton said. “If they needed some support and assistance, we are a great resource that is basically just across the [New Haven] Green.”

New Haven officials, including Mayor Toni Harp, have also expressed their support for Turnbridge’s efforts to provide care to the community. Given outpatient services’ potential for increased cost-effectiveness and the opioid use epidemic in the area, the treatment program could be a resource for the city and its residents.

“New Haven is attempting to take an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to addiction with health care providers and organizations, along with the local city and state officials working hard to do what is right for the New Haven community,” said Patrick O’Connor SPH ’88, chief of General Internal Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital.

O’Connor added that high quality outpatient programs have the advantages of administering addiction treatment that can be incorporated into daily life, and that these programs can generally be provided at a lower cost than inpatient options.

According to Turnbridge’s addiction treatment outcome study, completed in the summer of 2017, over 95 percent of Turnbridge alumni who complete at least 270 days of treatment successfully stay sober for one year or more. Britton attributes the center’s success to the professionals and employees at Turnbridge who are part of the recovery network for both residential and outpatient participants. Clinicians at Turnbridge also connect outpatient clients to community resources, according to Britton.

“The need with the opioid epidemic, the need with … how alcohol-use rates are still very high, there are plenty of individuals who are wanting and looking for these services,” Britton said. “We have the personnel, the talented staff, the programming to offer those services. We wanted to serve the local community, not just the young people who are in our core program.”

Turnbridge is located at 189 Orange St.

Ruiyan Wang | ruiyan.wang@yale.edu