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March 17, 2021

Irsay Gift Expands Successful Addiction Program

IU Health West Hospital

Irsay Gift Expands Successful Addiction Program

A $1 million boost from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is allowing a proven addiction program to increase its reach.

Irsay’s gift to the IU Health Foundation will allow the Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center at IU Health West to expand its hours of operations, and add more staff and programming. While similar programs claim a success rate of about 30 percent, the program at IU Health West succeeds with almost six out of every 10 patients it serves, said Center Director Trisha Palencer, who looks forward to extending that impact.

“The Irsay family is allowing us to grow,” Palencer said. “We will be able to serve more people now.”

The gift arrives in a time of need. Before the COVID-19 epidemic, nearly one in 12 Hoosiers suffered from substance use disorder, according to a recent Indiana University study. After the pandemic arrived, things only got worse. For example, IU Health saw a 23% increase in overdose patients in 2020.

That last stat is particularly relevant for the center, as roughly 65% of their patients struggle with alcohol addiction, Palencer says. About 20% of center patients struggle with opioid use disorder, she added, with the remaining patients facing a variety of addiction issues.

Palencer credits her two-year-old program’s success to its mix of services, such as individual, group and family therapy and recovery coaching, as well as its quick response to people in need, and her team’s relentless support of the people they serve.

As an example, Palencer described a woman who initially connected with the center when police brought her to the ER. The team met with her there, and spent the following year working with her through a persistent cycle of progress and relapse. Now eight months sober and working a full-time job, the proud grandmother recently spent her first Christmas in a decade with the family that had been driven away by her addictions.

Other keys to success, Palencer says, are her team members’ support of each other and adaptability. When COVID-19 forced them to stop seeing patients face-to-face, for example, the team took only two days to contact every patient and put in place plans for care under the new paradigm.

“I’m so grateful for all of you, because you really care about people and it shows,” said another patient. “I got my life back.”

The center is open weekdays from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm. To learn more, call 317.217.2711.

The IU Health Foundation provided matching funds for the Irsay gift, which will support additional IU Health addiction services. If you’d like to support initiatives like this, please consider making a donation to the IU Health Foundation here.

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