When I became president and chief executive officer of Integrity House in 2012, I made a promise to our clients, families, trustees, staffers, and stakeholders that I would do all I could to keep our addiction treatment community safe. While Integrity House has faced its share of challenges through the years, no challenge has compared to the fight against the ongoing drug epidemic during COVID-19.
The pandemic forced Integrity House to drastically change how it kept people connected to services overnight. We had to make some very tough choices, like telling our clients’ families they couldn’t visit their loved ones for the time being. We took a devastating financial hit—fundraisers we relied on for general operating funds were out of the question, and treatment utilization dropped due to fear of the virus. We had to allocate a significant amount of resources toward making our programs safer for staffers and clients. Purchasing PPE, thermometers, plexiglass, signage, and having our buildings professionally disinfected have come at a cost that not-for-profits like ours hadn’t exactly budgeted for.
I remember asking myself, “Will Integrity House make it through this?” Well, the answer is yes. We, here at Integrity House, are Resilient for Recovery after all.
As you know, the coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact across our country, resulting in illness, unemployment, food insecurity, financial uncertainty, and even death. Sadly, not just death associated directly with the virus, but indirectly, too. In NJ, we are aware of 2,320 individuals who died of a preventable drug overdose from the start of the year through September.
For the people we serve, loneliness is lethal. Integrity House is here, ready to connect in-person, online, and in communities. Addiction treatment services are essential services. During the pandemic we have expanded our community-based services by introducing new programs, which include a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) and a mobile recovery center. The opposite of addiction is connection.
In closing, I’d like to acknowledge the tremendous resilience of our clients and program graduates. Their courage and perseverance truly make them Resilient for Recovery. In the weeks ahead, you’ll be hearing directly from some of them. I hope that you will answer their call to action and help Integrity House raise $75,000 to rebuild lives as it prepares to face the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay safe and healthy.
Robert J. Budsock
President and Chief Executive Officer