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Northeast Times Calls Livengrin House of Healing

By William Kenny Jan. 3, 2017

Dense woods, un­du­lat­ing hills and gently flow­ing streams shroud the Liven­grin Found­a­tion’s Ben­s­alem headquar­ters, largely isol­at­ing the 43-acre ad­dic­tion treat­ment fa­cil­ity from the bust­ling com­munity out­side it.

The pri­vacy is clearly by design. After all, al­co­hol­ics and drug ab­users in the early stages of re­cov­ery be­ne­fit from the serenity of nature and need not be ex­posed to the pub­lic stig­mas as­so­ci­ated with their dis­ease as they cope with its emo­tion­al, phys­ic­al and fin­an­cial con­sequences.

Liven­grin’s Hul­meville Road cam­pus has looked es­sen­tially that way since a wealthy and bliss­fully ec­cent­ric ad­vert­ising ex­ec­ut­ive and en­tre­pren­eur, Standish Forde Hansell, pur­chased the former Brice Farm and foun­ded the non­profit there in 1966, nam­ing the in­pa­tient fa­cil­ity after a per­son­al man­tra: “live and grin.”

Yet, with its golden an­niversary com­mem­or­a­tions now com­plete and the found­a­tion em­bark­ing on its second half-cen­tury, it finds it­self en­gaged in a fierce com­pet­i­tion where, iron­ic­ally enough, pub­lic at­ten­tion might serve as one of its greatest as­sets.

Road to recovery: Livengrin Foundation serves more than 4,000 patients annually at eight campuses, including a counseling center at 9140 Academy Road in the Northeast. Above, president and CEO Rick Pine leads a tour of the foundation’s Bensalem headquarters. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

Ac­cord­ing to Pres­id­ent and CEO Rick Pine, ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery has be­come big busi­ness with count­less prof­it­eers vy­ing for the same pa­tients and their man­aged care dol­lars. So if Liven­grin can pub­li­cize its ser­vices and suc­cesses with a wide audi­ence, it can grow its repu­ta­tion as a pro­vider of choice — one of the old­est and largest in the re­gion — while en­sur­ing its long-term fin­an­cial se­cur­ity.

At latest count, the found­a­tion serves more than 4,000 pa­tients and their fam­il­ies per year at eight cam­puses, in­clud­ing the in­pa­tient fa­cil­ity in Ben­s­alem and out­pa­tient cen­ters in Phil­adelphia, Bucks County, Mont­gomery County and Al­lentown. In the North­east, there’s a coun­sel­ing cen­ter at 9140 Academy Road and a second of­fice that will open early this year at the Fin­ish­ing Trades In­sti­tute on Horn­ig Road.

“Liven­grin was here do­ing this work long be­fore there was fund­ing for it, be­fore there were re­im­burse­ments for it and be­fore there was pub­lic ac­cept­ance for it,” Pine told the North­east Times dur­ing a re­cent tour of the grounds. “And even if the fund­ing were taken away, Liven­grin would still be here find­ing ways to do this work.”

Look­ing at the latest gov­ern­ment data, one can only con­clude that the work re­mains as rel­ev­ant now as ever. The Na­tion­al In­sti­tute on Al­co­hol Ab­use and Al­co­hol­ism — a branch of the U.S. De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices — re­ports that in a 2014 sur­vey of Amer­ic­an adults, al­most one-fourth ac­know­ledged that they had en­gaged in binge drink­ing dur­ing the pre­vi­ous month, while al­most 7 per­cent said that they had en­gaged in heavy drink­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­sti­tute, binge drink­ing oc­curs when someone con­sumes enough al­co­hol to raise his or her blood-al­co­hol con­tent to .08 per­cent or more. Heavy drink­ing is when someone con­sumes five or more drinks in a sit­ting at least five times dur­ing a 30-day peri­od.

Like­wise, the Na­tion­al In­sti­tute on Drug Ab­use re­ports that in a 2013 sur­vey, about one-tenth of Amer­ic­ans ages 12 and older (al­most 25 mil­lion people) ac­know­ledged that they had used an il­li­cit drug dur­ing the pre­vi­ous month. The vast ma­jor­ity of those folks, about 20 mil­lion, had used marijuana. But the sur­vey fur­ther re­vealed that 6.5 mil­lion people copped to pre­scrip­tion pill ab­use. Oth­er high-rank­ing sub­stances in­cluded co­caine (1.5 mil­lion users), hal­lu­cino­gens (1.3 mil­lion), in­hal­ants (500,000) and heroin (300,000).

These num­bers show that just about every­one is per­son­ally af­fected or knows someone who is af­fected by sub­stance ab­use. Fifty years ago, Hansell be­came keenly aware of this en­dur­ing hu­man con­di­tion.

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2018-02-07T02:40:05-05:00
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