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Addiction Alliance of Georgia opens new treatment center in Atlanta
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Jennifer Johnson McEwen
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Treatment Center ribbon cutting

Two years after launching the Addiction Alliance of Georgia, partners Emory Healthcare and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation are celebrating the official opening this week of the Emory Addiction Center. A formal ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Oct. 26.

Made possible by almost $10 million in donations from public and private community partners, the center advances the Addiction Alliance of Georgia’s goal of confronting the state’s addiction and overdose epidemic through addiction-related clinical care, education and research.

The new Emory Addiction Center sits on the campus of Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods (1821 Clifton Rd). It offers outpatient and intensive-outpatient addiction treatment and co-occurring mental health care for adolescents and adults. The center welcomed its first patients on June 27 during a soft opening phase.

“We are so grateful to all of the foundations and individuals who made the vision of opening this new treatment center a reality. Their generosity will help save and change lives in this time of tremendous need and for years to come,” said Justine Welsh, MD, medical director of the Addiction Alliance of Georgia and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

Emory Addiction Center is run by leading U.S. health system Emory Healthcare, with management, training and operations support from Hazelden Betty Ford, the nation's leading nonprofit dedicated to people, families and communities affected by substance use disorders.

The new center’s multidisciplinary treatment team includes board-certified addiction psychiatrists, child psychiatrists, addiction counselors and psychologists. Its outpatient services — provided both virtually and in-person — include individual and group therapy as well as medication-assisted treatments and family support. Patients will be referred to Hazelden Betty Ford’s national system of care and other treatment centers whenever a higher, residential level of care is needed. 

“Opening a new outpatient treatment center is a significant milestone in our multi-phased, collaborative plan to help reduce rates of substance use disorder and improve rates of recovery throughout Georgia,” said Stephen Delisi, MD, medical director for Hazelden Betty Ford’s Enterprise Solutions division and assistant adjunct faculty member at the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. “As we celebrate and continue to engage in other initiatives throughout the state, we’re excited to begin looking ahead to longer-range plans, too.”

Hazelden Betty Ford and Emory Healthcare formed the Addiction Alliance of Georgia in 2020 as a community-based, collaborative enterprise that integrates addiction and mental health care, prevention, research and educational initiatives, and engages partners in a sustained effort to reduce the negative impact of addiction and increase the positive impact of recovery in Georgia communities. In addition to opening the new treatment center, the Alliance has been, and continues to be, engaged in a number of education, outreach and research initiatives, including:

  • Grady Hospital Collaboration: With support from a $350,000 grant from the John and Polly Sparks Foundation, the Alliance is working with the Grady Health System and other community partners, including the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, to integrate additional substance use disorder services into Grady's primary care clinics.
  • DBHDD Collaboration: Thanks to a $1.5 million government grant, the Alliance partnered with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities to plan two years of virtual community-wide events and workshops for Community Service Boards, aimed at reducing stigma and preparing community partners for medication-assisted treatment services—and also is partnering with DBHDD to provide immersive educational experiences for medical, nursing and public health students.
  • CDC Collaboration: The Alliance worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide content and subject matter expertise for online micro-learning training modules, an addiction medicine toolkit, and an educational webinar series.
  • Capstone Program: The Alliance developed and delivered an Emory School of Medicine Capstone on addiction and opioid use disorder in the medical setting for fourth-year medical students, and plans to expand the capstone to other medical schools as well.
  • Peachtree Road United Methodist Church (PRUMC) Collaboration:
    • In August 2021, Hazelden Betty Ford Vice President William C. Moyers shared his personal story of recovery at a large community education event held at PRUMC in Atlanta and participated in multiple related media opportunities to highlight efforts by Georgia’s faith community to confront the state’s—and nation’s—addiction and mental health crisis.
    • An October 2022 community event at PRUMC featured a panel of addiction recovery professionals, including the Alliance’s medical director, Dr. Justine Welsh. The panel was led by the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse.
  • Student Education:
    • The Alliance awarded full scholarships to students from four of Georgia’s five medical schools— Morehouse School of Medicine, Medical College of Georgia, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and Emory University School of Medicine—to attend Hazelden Betty Ford’s immersive five-day Professionals in Residence and Summer Institute for Medical Students programs.
    • Utilizing Hazelden Betty Ford’s immersion program model and funding from DBHDD, the Alliance also developed a weeklong Community-Based Immersion Healthcare Education Program and is training students from Emory’s School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Rollins School of Public Health. Discussions are now underway to expand the program to M.D. and Ph.D. students at the Morehouse School of Medicine and Georgia State University.

About the Addiction Alliance of Georgia

Utilizing the experience and strengths of two national health care leaders, Emory Healthcare and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the Addiction Alliance of Georgia is a comprehensive partnership dedicated to reducing substance-use-disorder rates; improving recovery rates; and bringing hope, healing and health to more people and families throughout Georgia and beyond. Founded in 2020, the Alliance integrates addiction treatment and co-occurring mental health care, education, prevention, outreach and research, collaborating with government agencies, concerned donors and partners throughout the larger community.

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