Andrew Drazan represents the many Americans who are the adult children of an alcoholic. It’s that legacy that has driven his search for a better treatment for addiction, and to found Wellbridge, a new state-of-the-art addiction treatment and research center just outside of New York on the North Shore of Eastern Long Island near Riverhead, where he is CEO and co-founder.
Drazan experienced the effects of addiction at a young age. One of three children, Drazan’s parents divorced when he was young, and his mother turned to alcohol and abused prescription medication to cope. She passed away at just 35 years of age, when Drazan was only nine, which left an emotional impact on her son that, like many, he did not confront for years.
It wasn’t until about 10 years ago, that Drazan, a successful businessman, husband, and father, started thinking back to his childhood, what it was like, and what had happened to his family. He wondered about the help his mother had received, the medications she had been prescribed, and if she would still be alive if the situation had been handled differently. These reflections led him ultimately to co-found Wellbridge – to help people in need, and their families, towards a more sustained path to recovery.
Drazan’s journey began with learning everything he could about addiction – the causes and current treatments, policies, and the barriers that make getting help so difficult. He met with experts, clinicians, and researchers, as well as with academic institutions to learn about the latest addiction treatments. With his friends, Jan Burman and Steve Krieger of Engel Burman, the NY-based real estate company that provided the ideal location close to New York City, Drazan began planning the addiction center he knew was so desperately needed.
As a proponent of evidence-based treatment, Drazan’s questions about the best clinical approach ultimately led him to a unique partnership with Northwell Health, the tri-state’s largest health care provider. Permits, approvals, and planning took more than eight years, but his tenacity and relentless focus kept the project moving forward. After a nine year journey, Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research officially opened May 18, 2020. And as Drazan likes to say, “now the real hard work begins.”
“With the opioid epidemic ravaging the country, along with the rise in substance use and mental health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the need for addiction treatment and care is greater than ever,” says Drazan. “Additionally, there is a lack of new research needed for clinicians to apply the most effective treatments, so we have built the first addiction research center to be co-located on-site with the residential treatment program and partnered with a major health network.”
Historically, the addiction field has not been evidence or science-based. Wellbridge’s Center for Addiction Research is unique as it is working to bridge that gap between science and clinical practice in the addiction field, to assess patients during treatment, measure their progress, adjust their care according to quantitative and scientific measures.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring this kind of information and data that will allow Wellbridge to define what quality care is, and give both patients and their families the confidence they’re receiving the highest level of care with a clearly defined set of interventions and outcomes,” adds Drazan.
Having witnessed how substance abuse affects the whole family, Drazan knows that it is truly a family disease. Along with an extensive family program to help everyone affected by addiction, Wellbridge offers a community education program to help reduce stigma and educate people about substance abuse and how it impacts our society. In addition to supporting the treatment and recovery of patients, a 200-seat auditorium, creative arts center, and music center will also be utilized for programming that supports the community at large.
For Drazan, Wellbridge’s role is to meet the needs of the people and families they serve. This sense of purpose keeps him focused on the mission of Wellbridge and raising awareness that there is hope and help out there.
“From the front door, when you walk in, Wellbridge is respectful to the patient, to the family, it’s uplifting,” says Drazan. “It provides hope. It provides a feeling of care that is unprecedented in the addiction community.”
Wellbridge is currently accepting patients for treatment and can be toured privately by appointment. For more information or to set up a visit, call 877-935-5274 or visit wellbridge.org.