Greensburg now home to clinic that helps veterans with PTSD and addiction issues
The growing problem of substance abuse and the growing numbers of veterans who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder means there are plenty of people who are dealing with both issues.
The staff at Strive Health, which marked the grand opening of its Greensburg addiction treatment clinic Thursday, targets counseling and treatment services specifically for veterans who are facing that post-combat battle on two fronts.
In the past, veterans or first-responders experiencing that struggle typically would complete treatment for substance abuse before they received attention for PTSD or any other behavioral problem they might have, said Dr. John Rodolico. Rodolico is chief clinical officer for the Greensburg center and for an affiliated clinic that is opening in New Hampshire.
“A veteran who comes back (from combat) struggling with an addictive disorder might also be struggling with depression or another anxiety disorder,” he said. “There is evidence that, if you treat them both at the same time, you actually have better outcomes.”
Clinic co-founder Eric Frieman noted the importance of having veterans with combat experience guiding the facility's operations.
Rodolico, who is training the clinical staff, is chief of behavioral health for the Massachusetts National Guard. He completed two deployments in Iraq as part of a combat stress unit with the Army Reserves.
Once the Greensburg clinic is up to full speed, it will have about 10 on its staff, Frieman said. That will include a peer recovery specialist with military or first-response experience, with whom patients who are veterans can relate as they progress through treatment, and a non-veteran peer who will interact with the clinic's other patients.
Rodolico said the goal is to have a fellow veteran on staff to serve as a first contact when a veteran calls seeking help.
Getting combat veterans to successfully reintegrate into civilian society is an underlying goal, Frieman said.
“We address it by helping veterans better understand the fact that the community is there for them.
“The military was their community. Now they have a new community, but they still have a support system and they still have structure.”
Strive Health means to provide another avenue for veterans to seek help with an addiction, in addition to turning to a Veterans Affairs facility, Frieman said.
“We're not trying to compete against the VA. We're actually trying to complement them by filling a geographical gap,” he said. “We don't want people from Westmoreland County traveling all the way to Pittsburgh to get the care they need.”