Antonio Ruberto Jr., LCSW, CASAC, Director of Center Recovery
The Center’s new Director of Recovery, Antonio Ruberto Jr., LCSW, CASAC, shared this compelling testimony at a recent hearing before State Commissioner, Arlene González-Sánchez, who heads up the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), illustrating the immense impact of our programming.
“’A living nightmare’ is how a recent client described his life prior to stumbling into Center Recovery. His growing crystal meth dependency rapidly ushered him from a stable job to unemployment and near homeless in a matter of months, causing debilitating paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations. In short order, he stopped going to work and even became scared of entering his own apartment for fear of being followed. Although reluctant at first, he came to Center Recovery on the encouragement of his friends and slowly adapted to the Center’s treatment program. A part of his treatment, he worked to stabilize his mental health with Medical Director and psychiatrist, Dr. Shane Spicer. Progressively he was able to maintain abstinence; his paranoia stopped and was able to return to work on a part time basis while continuing to engage in treatment. He has formed friendships and is gaining powerful support from others in the program that struggle with similar issues.”
Ruberto’s testimony to the state’s OASAS Commissioner went on to explain the huge difference Center Recovery makes in the lives of countless members of our community and push for continued and expanded state funding of our program. Center Recovery is the only New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) licensed, outpatient substance abuse treatment program designed specifically for LGBT communities. Since 2007 the program has helped hundreds of people achieve and maintain sobriety. The majority of current clients in a recent program satisfaction survey indicated that the primary reason they chose the Center’s recovery program is its LGBT focus. They pointed out that their counselors understand their feelings, and that makes them feel comfortable and safe while talking about issues of concern.
Ruberto went on to testify:
“Alcoholism & substance abuse remain a major problem for my community – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Research indicates lesbians and gay men are at 2 to 3 times greater risk for alcohol and substance abuse than the general population. These issues also do not decrease with age as with the general population. In addition, recent research shows transgender people have comparable or higher rates of both alcohol and substance abuse within the LGB communities. In the last 10-years or so we have been confronted with a new crisis with the increased use of crystal methamphetamine by gay and bisexual men.”
“Our program looks forward to working closely with OASAS regarding their plans over the next four years. In particular, as we look to grow our program further, we hope for continued financial support for this vital and unique resource, along with additional support for areas prioritized for growth, including, but not limited to, co-occurring disorders and tobacco treatment.”
“The need for programs such as ours, which support special populations, is still essential. LGBT people face stigma, homophobia and transphobia, violence, and trauma which leave them at significantly greater risk for alcohol and substance abuse. Crystal methamphetamine use by gay and bisexual men show no sign of abating and over 30% of our participants reports its use. In addition, your continued and increased financial support will allow us to implement interventions specific to growing populations within our communities such as LGBT youth and Spanish-speaking participants, all of whom are showing increasing need for treatment services and would benefit from the continued availability of our established program, services, and knowledge.”
In conclusion, Ruberto thanked the commissioner for the opportunity to share the story of Center Recovery and asked for continued support:
“Our participants wish to achieve sustained abstinence and recovery of their lives. We hope that we can count on your leadership to help this program grow and deliver services to a still-marginalized population that remains at high-risk for addiction.”
Center Recovery services include: individual, group and family counseling; alcohol and substance abuse education; HIV prevention, education and referral services; vocational preparation activities and skills development; DUI assessments; psychiatric, medical and other health and wellness services; and services for significant others.
To learn more visit us online. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact Center Recovery at (646) 556-9300 and ask to speak with a counselor.