Longbranch Recovery Center
Abita Springs’ new $10 million addiction treatment facility promises residents on both shores a tranquil center for recovery.
Imagine if only 10 percent of those with cancer in the U.S. received treatment.
Such is the case with substance abuse.
In 2015, the problem affected 20.8 million Americans, approximately 8 percent of the population. The prevalence of substance abuse is 1.5 times that of all cancers combined, and yet opportunities for treatment remain few and far between.
Chris McMahon and Dan Forman are aiming to change that in Southeast Louisiana.
This month, patients will begin arriving at Longbranch Recovery Center, a $10 million inpatient addiction treatment facility in Abita Springs.
A renovation and rehabilitation of the historic Longbranch Hotel, the center represents the largest investment in private addiction treatment in the history of Louisiana. The site is planning on hiring approximately 50 staff members in 2018.
Longbranch is the brainchild of local healthcare entrepreneur Chris McMahon, who is himself 17 years sober from an opioid addiction. McMahon is also CEO of Passages Hospice in New Orleans.
“This is a mission for me,” he said. “People have been afraid to talk about [addiction], and before this was seen as a moral failing instead of a disease. And it is 100 percent a disease. People got used to going out of state for treatment. Our [state] is the first to have this. Our center is top notch.”
Longbranch Recovery in Abita Springs offers 30- to 90-day programs, 32 patient bedrooms, therapists’ offices, meeting rooms, a restaurant, yoga room, activity center and Japanese meditation garden, all with the goal of providing complete care to patients and their family.
In addition to trauma counseling, dual diagnosis, and family and community support, Longbranch aims to include a well-rounded recovery plan, according to McMahon.
“Our treatment is cutting-edge and will include all aspects of the mind and body, including acupuncture, yoga by the pool, nutrition, and a food and culinary program,” he said. “We want to approach treatment from all sides.”
Longbranch Recovery is available for both male and female patients, who are separated by floors. A proposed women’s wing is being discussed.
The center is a drug-free treatment program, but has a relationship with Covington Behavioral for patients in need of detox prior to admittance.
“We do not want to trade one addiction for another,” McMahon explained.
1 in 7 people in the United States
or 14.6% of the population
are expected to develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives
THE “GOLDILOCKS ZONE”
Such a large investment in addiction treatment is more than warranted in Louisiana. According to the CDC, in 2016 the state ranked seventh in the nation for highest amounts of opioid prescriptions written — 118 per 100 residents.
Yes, you read that right. More prescriptions are written for opioids in Louisiana than there are people to fill them.
Last May, Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz announced the launch of “Operation Angel,” a drug-fighting program that invites anyone battling a drug addiction to show up at any police station in the parish and receive treatment, not jail time. The program is the first of its kind in Louisiana.
Longbranch Recovery’s Abita Springs inpatient center is modeled on and resides in the former Longbranch Hotel, a historic retreat for asylum seekers looking to refresh the body and spirit with the town’s healing waters in a quiet country setting.
It was this past, and its distance from the city, that McMahon said drew him to the site.
“We are implementing a treatment modality that is intense, and many of our patients will already have feelings of fear or trust issues,” he said. “This is a place that feels safe. It’s surrounded by a state park, and we have three-story-high bamboo around us.”
Citing its geographical distance from New Orleans, McMahon said the facility is positioned in the “Goldilocks zone.”
“People don’t want to go too far for treatment, but they don’t want it to be too close either,” he said. “[Longbranch] is the same distance as Hazelden is from Minneapolis. It’s 45 miles from New Orleans.”
of people with a substance abuse problem receive treatment.
Joining McMahon is Longbranch Healthcare Chief Marketing Officer Dan Forman, who oversees marketing and communications for all of the treatment programs at Longbranch.
Forman has extensive experience with addiction recovery, most recently serving as president and CEO of The Dependency Pain Treatment Centers in New Orleans, which was rebranded under a different name, Medication Assisted Recovery Centers (MARC), in 2017 and treats patients at one central location in Metairie.
The brand “Dependency Pain” is also transitioning into The Dependency Pain Foundation with the mission of creating and facilitating treatment opportunities for patients with chronic pain and opioid-use disorder. Forman remains on the advisory committees of both Dependency Pain and MARC.
Friends since elementary school, McMahon tapped Forman after his formal departure from Townsend Treatment Center and The Dependency Pain Treatment Centers.
“I have known Chris McMahon since we were both students at Metairie Park Country Day School,” said Forman. “I followed his career closely and it turns out he followed mine as well. He approached me about joining his executive team after my former company, Townsend, was sold to American Addiction Centers in 2016 — it was a very public acquisition. We both share a mission in that we want to build the quality treatment programs that New Orleans deserves.”
Forman’s role with Longbranch Recovery is to engage patients and their family while providing the essential information on how to receive help.
“I view marketing as an essential piece of a recovery program,” he said. “I’m not selling treatment — my entire focus is to sell against the disease of addiction. We don’t compete with other treatment programs — our only competition is denial. Addiction is like having a slick Madison Avenue public relations company in your brain telling you that it’s okay to continue to use or drink, even though it’s destroying your life and causing you to lose everything.”
Forman’s approach is to convince those who need help to make the change and meet their goal of recovery.
“Our tools allow us to break through those negative messages — that denial, those excuses for continuing to drink and use — and focus on getting the patient to embrace the idea of recovery,” he said. “Marketing is not supposed to fix the issue. Our job is to meet the patient where they are, get the patient to pick up the phone, to ask for help, to accept the idea that living a life in recovery is far better than the life they currently have. Once they call us, our team takes it from there.”
Opioids Flood the South
Top 10 states for opioid prescriptions in 2016 — (Number of prescriptions per 100 residents).
1. Alabama 142.9
2. Tennessee 142.0
3. West Virginia 137.6
4. Kentucky 128.4
5. Oklahoma 127.8
6. Mississippi 120.3
7. Louisiana 118.0
8. Arkansas 115.8
9. Indiana 109.1
10. Michigan 107.0
IN OR OUT
Outpatient facilities will also soon be available in Old Metairie at Longbranch Wellness.
“Longbranch will offer an intensive outpatient program for addiction in Old Metairie that mirrors the quality and substance of our residential program in Abita Springs,” McMahon explained. “[Old Metairie] will provide a combination of medication-assisted treatment and counseling in an outpatient setting, allowing the patient to continue to work and sleep in their own bed at night. The outpatient program will be designed for busy individuals with jobs and families who are unable or unwilling to commit to a residential treatment. It will be highly discreet and confidential and typically paid for by medical insurance. Our outpatient facility is gorgeous. It feels more like a spa than a treatment center.”
For those participating in Longbranch’s new inpatient treatment, McMahon stressed that efforts have been made to encourage family and friends “to participate in the recovery process.”
“We will have a corporate account with the Southern Hotel for visitors,” he said. “We will also have a family program for families and friends, along with visitor hours. We will provide family counseling for patients and their families, as well as grief counseling.”
Alcohol- and drug-related crime and violence, abuse and child neglect, and the increased cost of healthcare has an estimated yearly economic impact of
$249 billion for alcohol misuse
$193 billion for illicit drug use.
BAD AND JUST GETTING WORSE
That’s how both McMahon and Forman describe the current opioid crisis.
“We are seeing more opioid problems today, as pain is now treated on a scale like never before,” said McMahon. “We are creating a new generation of addicts.”
“The opioid crisis is only beginning and the amount of available treatment options are a drop in the bucket against the tide of destruction,” added Forman. “You think it’s bad now, it will only get worse. There aren’t enough good outcomes-based treatment options for the amount of patients who need them and will need them in the future. Louisiana is in desperate need of good treatment options for patients.
“We are bringing Louisiana the addiction treatment program it deserves, along with the privacy and attention the people of Louisiana deserve.”
Additional Addiction Treatment Centers in Southeast Louisiana
Odyssey House Louisiana1121 N. Tonti St.
Nonprofit • Medically supported detox program • Short-term, 28-day adult residential program • long-term housing • adolescent program • community health center
Accepts most insurance • Outpatient facilities in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Covington, Houma, Lake Charles and Metairie • 24-hour nursing coverage • consulting psychiatrists on staff • medical stabilization • group and individual counseling • family counseling
Bridge House/Grace House4150 Earhart Blvd.
Nonprofit • flexible-term residential treatment • group and individual therapy • vocational activities and training
Longbranch Recovery Center21516 Hwy. 36
Abita Springs, Lousiana