MATTHEWS — A new addiction and mental health clinic recently opened on Senna Drive off Matthews Township Parkway, offering another option for those on the path to recovery.

Eleanor Health serves anyone impacted by addiction, whether they are someone currently struggling with addiction, a relapsed individual looking to re-engage in recovery, an older adult needing intensive medical support or a family or loved one of someone with addiction.

The Matthews clinic is Eleanor Health’s tenth in North Carolina. The company also has locations in Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington and New Jersey.

According to Danica Patterson, Eleanor Health’s North Carolina general manager, the expansion into Matthews comes in response to the state’s growing addiction and mental health services and delivery needs, which has been amplified by the pandemic.

Patterson said job loss, blurred boundaries of working from home, the struggle to find childcare and sudden changes to everyday life, no matter how small, have pushed people toward other outlets.

“We’ve seen an increase in people turning to substance as a coping mechanism,” Patterson said. “The pandemic may feel over for some, but we’re seeing a lot of lingering effects.”

She said Matthews was chosen based on its population density and proximity to Charlotte.

“Matthews is super quaint. We love it and we’re excited to be a mainstay in the community,” Patterson said. “There was a need here and we wanted to fill that need.”

Inside the clinic, there are two group rooms, an individual room, lab area and offices for staff, including a behavior health clinician and Community Recovery Partners, or peer coaches, who offer a been-there-done-that approach.

The clinic’s name is an ode to Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the earliest champions for universal human rights including medical care, and her quotes are painted all over the walls. Eleanor also means “shining light” in Greek, which Patterson said fits the clinic’s goal to illuminate a path for each person seeking its services, each community it joins and the industry as a whole.

“We want to be a shining light for people who face stigma with addiction,” Patterson said.

Unlike other treatment centers, staff at Eleanor Health don’t use the word “sobriety.” Instead, they embrace a harm reduction approach to substance abuse disorder that focuses on preventing overdose and infectious disease. It measures success based on improvements, rather than black and white metrics.

“It’s not three strikes and you’re out,” said Operations Manager Jennifer Lemire.

Services at Eleanor Health include medication-assisted treatment, therapy and counseling, psychiatric evaluation, recovery resources and virtual care. Members get a personalized care plan that includes medication-assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms as well as medication management for co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety or depression.

Danaan Yo, a behavior health clinician at the Matthews clinic, offers group and one-on-one outpatient therapy during which she talks to members about their goals, what’s working and what’s not and serves as a resource and sounding board.

She said she stands behind Eleanor Health’s whole-person care model that’s based in science and the understanding that addiction is a disease requiring medical, behavioral and social support.

“I enjoy the combination of addressing both substance abuse and mental health because I feel like I get to better work with the whole person,” Yo said, adding that it’s rewarding to be part of someone’s journey toward recovery. “It feels like a privilege.”

Lemire said staff at Eleanor Health are there for guidance but recognize members’ autonomy in their treatment, and that’s why many see success.

“We’re helping better the community by allowing individuals to learn how to live their best life and not fall down that broken path,” Lemire said. “We don’t tell the members what their best life looks like, they tell us and we help them achieve it.”

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