When Tim Patterson came across Catholic Charities' Buffalo-based Chemical Dependency Treatment Program two years ago, he was no stranger to addiction programs. Previously, he had been in a Suboxone program with a different agency, but during his time there, Patterson said it never felt quite right.
"I felt (like) more of a number," he said, adding that the program was not equipped to handle the grief he was dealing with after the sudden death of his girlfriend. "I ended up leaving that counseling program and maybe for three months, I went through withdrawal. I started buying Suboxone off the street. Out of chance, I got on the internet and I had looked up some programs. Catholic Charities came up."
With Catholic Charities, things felt different. Instead of feeling like one of many, he suddenly felt like an individual.
"Right off the bat, I hit it off well with (my counselor). She really connected with me on how I was feeling and what I was going through," he said. "She really helped me."
Patterson takes part in the Suboxone program, counseling through the Chemical Dependency Treatment Program and also counseling for depression and anxiety.
"They've helped me from day one. They finally got me to work out a lot of issues," he said. "They don't treat you like a number. They treat you like a person."
Catholic Charities' program is New York state OASAS licensed and serves adolescents, adults and families. Clients in the program have access to individual, family and group therapy, as well as crisis intervention, community education and a psychiatric evaluation and consultation. And while the program served more than 350 people last year, each client can expect an individualized approach, a trait that sets Catholic Charities apart, said Bridget Hillery, Patterson's counselor.
"Our treatment team is very motivated to provide individualized treatment and therapy to each of our clients because every client is different and every path to recovery is going to be different," said Hillery. "We feel strongly about working with our clients to decide what course of treatment is going to work best for them."
In Patterson's case, it's the mix of medication assisted therapy and counseling that's worked.
"The counseling that I've done there is phenomenal," he said. "I wasn't great on meetings. Sometimes that works for people. It wasn't really working for me, but the counseling worked for me. It made me a better person today. I'm so grateful."
Patterson, who has also received food assistance from Catholic Charities, said his counselors make him feel like a priority.
"Anytime I need help, I can always reach out to them and they're always there for me. They make time for me," he said. "The other program I would have to wait a week or two weeks."
Since working with Catholic Charities, Patterson said his life has changed for the better.
"Today I'm finally happy, especially because of the work they've done with me," he said. "I've gotten back my spirituality. I'm closer to God now than I ever have been. I've been praying every day for two years. It makes me want to go out and help people now. I love sharing my story with people because I am a positive influence to a lot of people. I've had so many people come up to me and ask me, 'How do you stay clean and sober?' and I believe counseling is the number one thing."
Hillery agreed, saying that Patterson's journey with Catholic Charities has made a good person even better.
"We've loved working with Tim from day one because of his positive attitude, insight and willingness to participate in the counseling process," she said. "The Tim I see now seems to feel even more confident in his ability to live the healthy, happy life he deserves."
Catholic Charities Chemical Dependency Treatment Program accepts most insurance plans and Medicaid. A sliding fee scale is also available. Currently, the program does not have a waiting list.
"We're lucky because we're one of the only clinics in the area that doesn't have a waitlist for the Suboxone program. We can have patients meet with our doctor as soon as they're admitted," Hillery said.
And while seeking help can be daunting, Patterson stressed that people should not be nervous about approaching Catholic Charities.
"They make it comfortable for you. They really do. They don't pressure you," he said. "I enjoy going there."
Hillery echoed similar thoughts.
"The first steps toward making a change can be intimidating, but our team is ready to provide support, care and understanding to anyone who needs it," she said. "And we commend them for their strength in even considering reaching out for help and making a change in their life."
Those wanting to enroll in the program can call 716-895-1033.