Graham Doerge was born to a family that was afforded ample opportunity.
The New York native was the youngest of three kids born to a couple whose marriage is still going strong, Doerge said, acknowledging that they afforded him “an incredible life.”
However, he was not protected from the difficulties of later life by his wealthy upbringing.
“Despite all of that [opportunity], I had some issues with substances and struggled with that,”Inside Edition Digital was told by him.
Doerge was not affected by addiction’s common risk factors. He had access to quality education, transportation, and other resources that could be used to his advantage. But alcoholism and substance abuse do not discriminate. Doerge’s struggles were not unique. Addiction is a common and widespread issue.
In fact, over 20 million Americans were diagnosed with Substance Use Disorders in the past year. According to the National Institute of Health NIHAnd the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS).
Doerge found a place in which he could get help for his alcoholism in 2008. He went to Florida’s treatment center. This set him on a new trajectory and sparked his desire to work in recovery and behavioral health himself.
“I knew pretty quickly that this was a field that I wanted to work in. When I was growing up, I didn’t really have that clear direction of, ‘OK, this is what I want to do with my life,’”He said. “By virtue of my getting sober and going down that route, the guys who saved my life — and I really do see the guys that were my therapists and all the clinicians at the treatment program that I went to as having saved my life, no question about it — I thought, what an incredible way to make a career.”
Doerge returned to work after two years of rehabilitation. He began in administration and continued his education on all aspects of the profession.
He was part of a Florida team that established a recovery center. After stepping back, he realized he wanted more. So he opened his North Carolina center.
Giving Help to Others in a Time of Need
New Waters was still in the beginning stages of their construction when the COVID-19 pandemic rolled around in March 2020.
Many hospitals and businesses were affected by this pandemic. But excessive alcohol and drug use spiked during that time.
According to NCDAS accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of death for people under 45 years old. Each year, the US sees over 70,000 deaths from drug overdoses. This was an increase of 4% annually, but it jumped to 30% in the first year after the pandemic. According to a Senate policy brief.
Because of the importance and urgency of their mission, the team didn’t let delays in building plans or adjusted timelines stop them from moving forward. Their grand opening was held in early September.
Doerge is now the founder and CEO of New Waters Recovery, a brand-new detox facility located in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In a state where nearly 30,000 have died of substance overdoses in the past two decades, he opened his facility. And numbers significantly increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, an average of nine North Carolina residents died from overdose-related causes. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services(NCDHHS).
Doerge, who has more than a decade’s experience in the field of recovery, is committed to New Waters as a place of intentionality for clients and their requirements.
New Waters Recovery serves as a detoxification and stabilization program. It is intended to assist individuals at the beginning of their journey. “the first stop in the continuum of care,” Doerge said.
Although there are several long-term rehab centers throughout the state, New Waters Recovery offers a unique integrative wellness center. It also provides a medical detox as well as a mental health assessment.
Doerge’s dedication to person-centered rehabilitation methods started with his own recovery, and he was adamant about approaching this practice from a holistic angle and centering people’s total wellness. To do so, the clinic must have multiple, intentional modalities, he said.
“Think about someone who’s been a chronic alcoholic for six years,” Doerge said. “He is going to be in need of supplements, vitamins, and hydration — that’s somebody who has just been wreaking havoc on his body for a number of years.”
Doerge’s example was apt considering as of 2019, more than 20% of the estimated 138 million U.S. residents over the age of 12 who drink alcohol having an alcohol use disorder. And the issue was only worsened with the onset of the pandemic, per a study from the Massachusetts General Hospital. According to the data, excessive or “binge” drinking jumped up by 21%, and experts estimate an additional 8,000 deaths may occur from this one-year increase, due to alcohol and liver related disease.
Approaching people’s bodies from varied angles that center wellness can result in them reaching a baseline of feeling better faster, Doerge said.
“Then at that point we can get them to where they need to go and start doing clinical work a lot faster,” he said. “Those aspects are so essential to this entire process, and it’s just unfortunate that not everybody is utilizing them because it’s such a big help.”
Throwing Out a One-Size-Fits-All Approach
For as many people that deal with addiction, there are that many ways to support them through recovery, Doerge said, noting he does not subscribe to a one-size-fits-all approach.
“The reality is that there’s no cookie cutter way to treat an addict or to treat somebody who’s dealing with mental health issues. Every single person is different, every person is dealing with different factors and different ailments,” he said. “We really need to take a look at every person that’s coming to us as an individual and create an individualized treatment plan for that person.”
Every person who turns to New Waters for help receives a full medical and mental health workup upon intake, he said. To do this, New Waters is starting small to create what Doerge calls an “intimate” environment, which includes 50 staff members and a cap of 10 clients at a time.
“We’ll have that really small client-to-staff ratio and really bring in different elements that deal with mind, body, and spirit,” Doerge says.
These holistic elements will include acupuncture, massage therapy, an infrared sauna, yoga and meditation offerings. New Waters Recovery will also offer an innovative IV therapy, allowing clients to receive fluids tailored to their body’s specific needs.
Clients will be able to access a gym and chef-prepared meals in addition to the therapy sessions. “I think that a lot of programs don’t do [holistic treatments] because it’s a lot of work and it costs a lot of money,”He said. “But, I think that we’re really falling short when treating clients and we’re not giving them all these different options.”
According to Doerge, the detox portion of a person’s recovery lasts anywhere from five to 14 days on average, depending on factors such as age, length of time substances were used and other health conditions. Doerge says it’s crucial to establish a long-term plan of recovery.
“What we are doing from the detox and stabilization piece is building a thorough aftercare plan and leading the family and everybody who’s involved in the case,”He said. “[This is to] make sure that when they’re discharged from us, they’re either going on to some sort of a residential program or they have a team of folks here built around them that can support them at an outpatient level.”
The center will also offer a mental health assessment track for those who are in need of psychological-based support.
“We started that assessment program because there were so many people that were in crisis, [because] a loved one has hit rock bottom or they’re struggling with psychosis or something in some way, and the family has no idea what to do, who to talk to, or how to navigate,”He said. “We do a deep dive assessment, and we do seven days of psycho-diagnostic testing to figure out what is going on here with this individual and their diagnosis. Then from there, we can make an educated decision on what is the best plan moving forward.”
After these clients go through a full mental and physical health assessment, a detailed treatment plan that includes referrals to appropriate physicians is given.
“I think finding a professional who can help you navigate this process and who has resources is really an important piece,” he said.
In addition to caring for each person as a whole, Doerge emphasized the importance of family involvement during the recovery process. “This is something that we need to continue for the rest of our lives. It’s constant maintenance, and that involves going to meetings, doing step work, having some sort of a spiritual practice in some way,”He said. “But it also involves the family system getting involved, and family stopping enabling and codependency, and really doing some work on themselves as well as the loved one who’s struggling.”