By Todd Taylor
To address the growing public health threat of substance use disorders, UF Health is expanding its Florida Recovery Center with a new 9,000-square-foot
renovated building that will provide more space for patient care, group activities and faculty workspaces.
UF Health leaders cut the ribbon Jan. 30 on the new facility, which is adjacent to the Florida Recovery Center’s main campus on Southwest 13th Street in Gainesville.
“This expansion will serve as a great resource for our patients and their families, as well as our faculty and staff,” said Regina Bussing, M.D., chair of UF’s department of psychiatry. “This type of investment is a testament to UF Health’s commitment to helping those suffering from substance use disorders recover and rebuild their lives.”
The first floor of the new building provides spacious meeting rooms and a large auditorium to host guest speakers and hold group activities. The second floor houses offices for the UF department of psychiatry and UF Health’s newest outpatient practice for addiction medicine.
An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually in the U.S., and according to a new report from the National Safety Council, for the first time on record Americans are more likely to die of an accidental opioid overdose than in a motor vehicle crash.
“Only about one in 10 people in the U.S. with a substance use disorder will get the treatment they need,” said Scott Teitelbaum, M.D., FASM, medical director of the UF Health Florida Recovery Center, known as the FRC. “At the University of Florida and the FRC, we’re committed to helping people identify the best treatment.”
The FRC provides multidisciplinary treatments that are supported by advanced research from faculty at centers and institutes across campus, including UF’s Evelyn F. and William L. Brain Institute. Calling upon the skills of board-certified addiction medicine specialists, as well as psychiatrists and licensed behavioral health counselors, treatment encompasses the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery followed by the well-established and proven 12-step method.
The FRC is also well-known for its Impaired Professionals Program, helping recovering professionals — primarily physicians and health professionals — from across the U.S. overcome addiction.
“There is an expertise required in evaluating and treating someone whose occupation can affect the safety of others,” said Teitelbaum. “Right now, we have health care professionals from all around the country under our care. They come here because they know we do a great job.”
Led by Teitelbaum, who holds the Pottash Professorship in Psychiatry and Neuroscience, UF boasts one of the nation’s top addiction medicine fellowship programs, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
“For the longest time, addiction medicine wasn’t seen as a real domain or specialty,” said Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and director of the UF Center for Addiction Research & Education. “That’s changed at UF because of the expertise we have here. Training fellows to appreciate the complexities of addiction and the role of the brain in the disease is an awesome responsibility and a wonderful opportunity.”
Roxane Harcourt, executive director of the FRC and administrator for UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital, sees the FRC’s expansion as another step in the right direction as our society continues to acknowledge that substance use disorders aren’t a choice, but rather, a brain disease.
“People often react to substance use disorders differently, and say, ‘Well, they could stop if they wanted to,’” said Harcourt. “So, we have to talk about it and address it. It’s not very pretty and it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care how rich or poor you are or how educated you are. It doesn’t matter.”