Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

The Open Access Center on Triphammer Road in the Village of Lansing on March 19, 2023.

March 19, 2023

Open Access, Detox and Stabilization Center Prepares to Open in Tompkins County

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Editor’s Note: This article contains a discussion of substance abuse.

The Alcohol and Drug Council of Tompkins County is preparing to open a new open access, detox and stabilization center in Tompkins County this April, intending to help people with substance abuse issues.

“When we open it will have three levels of care: open access, medically supervised withdrawal and stabilization,” said Angela Sullivan, executive director of the ADCTC. 

The open access unit is used for critical cases and is nonresidential. Sullivan explained that patients can walk into the open access facility at any time and receive information, medication assisted treatment, assessment for substance abuse disorders and other forms of care.

The patient can then go into detox, if needed, or a stabilization period. Detox aims to remove alcohol and drugs from the body, which can be done via medically supervised withdrawal. The stabilization period prepares the patient to be discharged and varies based on the individual.

“If they’re assessed and what they want is detox, they can go upstairs and be in one of our 40 beds. We have 40 beds that are shared between detox and stabilization,” Sullivan said. “If they come in and they are sick or injured, they could actually get physical healthcare as well as medically supervised withdrawal services.”

After patients are stabilized, which would typically take three to five days according to Sullivan, they can enter a stabilization period in the center before they are ready to be discharged into another program, facility or back into the community. 

“We expect [the stabilization period] to probably be mostly about two weeks, but there are stays as long as 45 days,” Sullivan said.

The addition of the open access, detox and stabilization center is critical since it offers services not yet available in Tompkins County.

The open access, detox and stabilization center is filling a huge gap in the continuum of care here in Tompkins County.” Sullivan said.

According to Brad Walworth, communications manager at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services, the new detox center will provide a level of care not yet available to residents.

“I’ve toured it and [it is] going to be an amazing program. It’s been something that’s so needed,” Walworth said. “Traditionally, unfortunately, in Tompkins County, people that need those services would have to go out of [the] county.”

The new center will help people with substance abuse issues. (Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor)

CARS currently offers a men’s residential rehabilitation program, an opioid treatment program and an outpatient program in Ithaca and surrounding areas. However, according to Walworth, the organization is not equipped to treat patients who need detox services.

Walworth explained that with the addition of the new detox center, the whole range of treatment services offered through New York State’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports will be covered in Tompkins County.

Additionally, Sullivan noted that the center will serve as a community resource, allowing for collaboration between other local partner offices.

“We have a community partner office, so say if [someone] needed housing, maybe the housing coordinators from Tompkins Community Action could come in and meet with them while they’re here,” Sullivan said. “We can work more on that person to person connection because the overarching philosophy is that it does take a community.”

Additionally, the center will provide harm reduction tools, which are used to reduce the adverse effects among individuals actively using substances. One example of a harm reduction tool is education on overdose prevention and reversal. 

In a study conducted from 1999 to 2021 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was found that overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, have increased 97-fold. Overdose deaths involving psychostimulants, primarily methamphetamine, with abuse potential have increased 59-fold. 

However, promoting harm reduction strategies can help decrease the negative effects of substance abuse, including the number of overdoses.

“The point of harm reduction is if you’re going to use [drugs], you need to use [them] more safely,” Sullivan said.

The center will have a vending machine that dispenses Narcan kits and fentanyl test strips. Narcan is an opioid overdose reversal drug and the test strips detect the presence of fentanyl in drugs.

“The intent behind a vending machine is that people don’t have to ask somebody for [Narcan kits and fentanyl strips],” Sullivan said. “So it’s a little less stigmatizing and they can just walk in, push the button and have a Narcan kit [or fentanyl test strips] come out.” 

The open access, detox and stabilization center will provide crucial services for Tompkins County residents, including the Cornell community.

“Students struggling with severe addiction issues may require more extensive intervention to ensure their safety,” wrote Jacob Parker Carver, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Coordinator in Cornell Health Counseling and Psychological Services in an email to The Sun. “Having an open access center in our community will provide invaluable, lifesaving support.”

Some Cornell Health faculty members toured the 19,000 square foot facility and said they were impressed by the quality of care.

“The facility provides a safe, welcoming point of entry where individuals can come for support and connect with services,” wrote Dr. Jada Hamilton, who is the medical director and interim chief of clinical operations and services at Cornell Health in a statement to The Sun. “Having them available locally will bolster the comprehensive approach Cornell takes to reducing the harms caused by alcohol and other drugs.”

Sullivan encourages those struggling with substance abuse issues to reach out to either Cornell Health or the ADCTC for help.

“There is a lot of help out there,” Sullivan said. “I know there’s a lot of pressure on Cornell students, but there’s a lot of help for Cornell students, whether it’s through Cornell Health or [ADCTC].” Sullivan said.

Elizabeth Gardner ’26 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

Students struggling with substance abuse concerns can get on-campus help through Cornell Health at health.cornell.edu. Help can also be found in the Ithaca area through Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services at carsny.org. Students may consult with counselors from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673. An Ithaca-based crisis line is available at 607-272-1616. For additional resources, visit caringcommunity.cornell.edu.