MGH Hotline 3.20.09 "My late teens and early 20s were a blur,” says Ben Brown, a 24-year-old patient recovering from drug addiction. "It wasn’t until my mother heard about ARMS that I truly got my life back on track."

Treating patients with open 'ARMS'

27/Mar/2009

Helping substance-abusing young adults: Front row, from left, Sarah Wilmot, LCSW, Kelly and Lucy Mograss, LSW. Back row, from left, Boyle, Kane and Erin Macey, LICSW

"My late teens and early 20s were a blur,” says Ben Brown, a 24-year-old patient recovering from drug addiction. "It wasn’t until my mother heard about ARMS that I truly got my life back on track."

ARMS – Addiction Recovery Management Service – gives young people like Brown the tools and support needed to fight drug and alcohol addiction. Established in October 2007, ARMS is a program of the MGH Psychiatry Department. The program connects patients ages 15 to 25 with appropriate recovery services that have been carefully vetted by MGH caregivers. Each patient’s individualized care involves the most recent research on treatment protocols.

"Basing our program on the latest high-quality research takes the guesswork out of treatments for our patients and their families," says John Kelly, PhD, co-director of ARMS. "Because we measure and evaluate our patients' responses to these treatments, we continually innovate and improve outcomes."

ARMS care does not stop with the patient. Ask any parent of a child with a substance-related problem: addiction can be a dark and hopeless time for the family as well. "Substance abuse and dependence have an impact on every member of the family, and family members in turn have an impact on the willingness of youth to enter treatment," says Martha Kane, PhD, co-director of ARMS. "We provide strong treatment support for parents and other caregivers to help them effectively parent youth with substance abuse problems throughout the recovery process."

In Brown’s case, he made several attempts to get sober – but without a consistent and supportive recovery program, he relapsed into addiction. "I reached a turning point when I was cited for my second DUI," says Brown. His car – which also was his home – was impounded, and he returned to his mother’s house. "She was determined to make a change, and that’s when she made an appointment for me with Jason at ARMS."

Jason Boyle, LCSW, is one of the ARMS recovery coaches. A recovery coach is there for the patient at every step of the process and acts as a bridge between recovery programs.

ARMS has been making a real difference in Brown’s life. He has been sober for more than a year. "MGH, and Jason in particular, played an enormous role in my recovery," he says. "I cannot overstate how his skill, care and professionalism helped me as a patient."

"We want to be a supportive, stabilizing and effective therapeutic force improving the quality of life for young people and their families faced with the grave and enduring unpredictability of addiction," says Kelly.

"We hope to establish a model of care that is sensitive to the realities of substance-related problems."

Learn more about ARMS