Guest Op-Ed: The fight against substance abuse

The Resource Counseling Center of Bay Ridge has been in operation for over seven months, and we are growing. On one hand, our growth isn’t exactly good news, as it reflects the problem with drugs and alcohol in our community.

On the other hand, those in need have a place to turn to for help. Every month, we have increased admissions by 50 or more percent! As of February 5, we are already outgrowing our space.

I was told this would happen but I didn’t believe it. I realized Bay Ridge had a substance abuse and alcohol problem, I just didn’t think it was that bad.

I founded The Resource Counseling Center with a philosophy of “Treatment on Demand,” which means you can walk in and be seen by us, getting the help you need, when you need it. Call us on the phone, and you will have an appointment that same day or the next, not two weeks later.

Even if we know the individual needs a higher level of care than we offer, we will see him or her, and get that person connected to the necessary services.

Don’t have insurance? We don’t turn people away who need our help, even if they don’t have insurance. This places a financial burden on us, especially being a non-profit, but when we see a client succeed in treatment who may have otherwise been just another statistic, it makes the struggle worth it.

In our Bay Ridge location, many of our clients are abusing multiple substances. Alcohol is almost always one of them. As alcohol is a very accepted substance, to some people it is a trigger. That is why we suggest to our clients that while giving up drugs, illicit or prescription, don’t drink either.

For many clients, alcohol is their biggest issue. Alcoholism affects the entire family. When one parent is an alcoholic, the chances are one in three that the children will become alcoholics. So if that parent gets treatment, the entire family can benefit.

I have had many families come to my Sunset Park building to talk about their family member and learn how to help that individual. We do these services for free. We also treat the family as a whole. The addict or alcoholic is not the only person suffering.

Many of you might be saying “They’re addicted; why do I care?” As most of you know, with addiction comes crime. With crime, comes fear. Fear ruins communities. We need to fight this crisis together.

We have an opportunity to expand to a larger space to accommodate more clients, but we don’t have the funds.  So we are asking for help. This is a “we” problem that affects all of us.

The Resource Counseling Center is having a Comedy Night fundraiser at the Bay Ridge Manor on March 31. Hosted by award-winning comedy writer Neil Berliner (Howard Stern, Mad Magazine), and featuring comedians Mike Morse, Calvin Cato and Emma Willman, the event will help raise much-needed funds.

If you are unable to make it, or simply would like to make a donation, please visit, and click the “Donate Now” button at the center of the page. All donations are tax deductable.

If you or anyone you know needs help, or you have a question, please feel free to contact us at 718-833-3320. We are located at 408 77th Street, Basement 2, Brooklyn, NY 11209.  All calls are confidential.

Donna Mae DePola is founder and CEO of the Resource Counseling Center.

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