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Telehealth services support essential workers in recovery from opioids

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City, Odyssey House staff and clients alike have been stepping up, taking on new responsibilities to keep their colleagues and fellow clients safe and healthy.

John B., 37, came to Odyssey House Outpatient Services in June 2019 for group and individual counseling and connection with a doctor to prescribe Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid use disorder.

That help has made a big difference in John’s life. He was on parole but still struggling with opioid addiction. It was essential for his recovery and parole agreement that he participate in outpatient services. “I went through some dark places, but I got help, and life is much better,” he said. “I’m taking my recovery a lot more seriously now and my life has started falling into place.”

Construction on the frontlines: Helping NYC hospitals handle the pandemic

Like most people, living and working in the midst of a pandemic have been stressful. As a member of the carpenters’ union, John is considered an essential worker, and his work has taken him to particularly somber places. Most recently, John worked for the medical examiner’s office, constructing temporary mortuary tents to expand capacity.

It’s bleak – but necessary – work, and John is grateful he has his counselors at Outpatient Services to reach out to when the strain starts to get to him. “It’s been rewarding in a way – I feel like I’m doing something to help. But it’s been challenging. I try not to take it home with me but it’s not easy.”

John said the counselors at Outpatient Services are very supportive, and that is key to his recovery process. “They believed in me and taught me that I deserved to give myself credit, to let go of guilt and shame, and work through those obstacles. This place really did show me how much they cared. They’re happy to see me doing well, and it makes me want to do even better.”

“He is an unsung hero,” says Maria Tapia, Clinical Supervisor of our Outpatient Services in the Bronx. “John has expressed how hard this job has been for him and how he has found support and solace in his recovery by speaking with his counselor, Mike Reddick, and his peer advocate, Anthony Shaw.”

Mary Callahan, Senior Director of Outpatient Services, agrees, and adds that “John has been consistently dedicated to his recovery from opioids since he joined us, and his motivation has never wavered, not even during this crisis.”

Though there are so many things that have changed as a result of the coronavirus, John says one thing remains the same: his ability to access the services he needs to maintain his recovery. Though he still comes in occasionally for his medication, his groups and counseling sessions are now done via telehealth, and John feels as committed and supported as ever.

“I’ve gotten to know the staff and I know I can call them anytime I feel I need them,” he said. “The people here don’t give up on you, and it reminds me not to give up on myself.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. Please call us – we can help.
Odyssey House Admissions: 866-888-7880
Outpatient Services: 718-860-2994

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