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SACC: Leading the way to wellness

By Sgt. Dengrier M. Baez | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | November 30, 2015


The road to recovery can be a long and difficult one. Once the problem is identified, the next step is to seek the right help. One place in the Tri-Command sits at the top when it comes to helping those who desire to walk on the path to wellness.

 The Substance Abuse Counseling Center Beaufort, with its 9-member staff, treated more than 200 cases this year dealing with substance abuse. Through their dedication of providing the best services and safest environment for clients and staff, the facility earned an accreditation in the top three percent by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities Nov. 18. This is the second consecutive time the facility has earned the high level accreditation.

 “It’s very meaningful to get that level of achievement,” said Don McRae, the clinical supervisor of SACC. “I think this speaks volume regarding the professionalism of the counseling staff here.”

 CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services. The group of companies currently accredits more than 50,000 programs and services at 23,000 locations. More than 8 million persons of all ages are served annually by 6,800 CARF-accredited service providers. CARF accreditation extends to countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, according to its website.

 One area of the survey involved a physical inspection of the facility’s safety. This area proved to be challenging due to the building’s age which was built in the late 1890s. Small but significant improvements were made to ensure the safety of the clients and the staff. The addition of a light at the entrance for when it is dark, railing and signs at the steps, and additional emergency lighting were some of the safety upgrades.

  “We’re always looking to make improvements,” said Carol Beasley, the health and safety officer for SACC. “It’s better for everyone, the staff and the clients, because we're providing them with a safe facility.”

 The center exists to provide treatment services to maximize force preservation and readiness through prevention, deterrence, identification and early intervention, of substance misuse, and substance use disorders according to SACC mission statement.

 Over the fiscal year period there have been more than 200 substance related screenings conducted by the center. Eighty percent of the screenings were alcohol related, 18 percent were drug related, and two percent were for other reasons, according to SACC annual substance use screening statistics.

 “Alcoholism is a problem that gets worse as it goes on as it goes untreated,” said McRae. “Alcoholism is considered a medical issue just like diabetes or any other disease.

 The target for of the substance abuse treatment program is to have no more than 10 percent readmission within a fiscal year. Of the total persons served for the fiscal year 2015, 21 were re-admission clients bringing the recidivism to nine percent- a decrease from the previous year in which the center was nearly double the target goal, according to the screening statistics.

 “The leadership involvement is crucial,” said Jose Lugo, the program director for SACC. “We offer education on substance abuse prevention to the units. Those commands that utilize it see an improvement.”

 The majority of screenings SACC receives are from command referral, meaning a problem was identified by the Marine or sailor’s chain of command or substance abuse control officer. Very few clients are self-referred but the SACC staff encourages those who need help to seek it early.

 The alcohol prevention specialist and the drug demand coordinator offer outreach and education programs tailored to meet the need of individual commands. Prime for Life 4.5 is the four and a half hour class offered to commands on their installations to educate the Marines and sailors.

 “Don’t wait for something to happen to get help,” said Lugo. “The command has to be informed about the referral because they have to sign off on it but that doesn’t mean trouble necessarily. Most of the people who are walk-ins get discouraged when they find this out and end up coming back under other circumstances.”

 Also, SACC offers an outpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment is offered to individuals who have been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder. Intensive outpatient treatment is offered to individuals who need a higher level of care.

 “We like for them to figure out the solution and we want to empower them,” said Lugo. “They could do it. We’re just an avenue that they could use. We are here to help.”

 For more information on substance abuse education contact the unit SACO or visit SACC located in the Behavioral Health Branch located next to the Lyceum aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.